Should I contribute to a TFSA, RRSP or both?
Should I contribute to a TFSA, RRSP or both?
With the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) available for saving in a tax-free environment, does it still make sense to contribute to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)?
RRSPs can work well if you contribute while you are in a high tax bracket and withdraw when in a lower tax bracket. You can generate a higher net rate of return with an RRSP when the effective tax rate at the time of withdrawal is lower than the effective tax rate at the time of contribution. A TFSA can provide a higher return if the reverse occurs.
For example, if you contribute $1,000 to an RRSP when you are in a 20 per cent tax bracket, your net cost is $800 after the tax savings. If you are in the same tax bracket when you make a withdrawal from your RRSP, your net withdrawal will be equal to your net cost after paying the taxes ($800). However, if you are in a higher tax bracket when you make the withdrawal, say 40 per cent, then your net withdrawal will only be $600 after the taxes are paid (assuming market is flat and there is no return).
TFSA, RRSP OR BOTH?
A TFSA can be an ideal savings vehicle if you are in a low income tax bracket. RRSPs may not be well suited to low income Canadians. The RRSP tax savings are insignificant and you may be in a higher tax bracket when you make withdrawals, as the earlier example demonstrates. You may also want to consider that TFSA withdrawals do not impact income tested benefits and credits, such as child tax benefits and credits, Old Age Security (OAS) or Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).
If you now find yourself in a lower tax bracket, such as when on maternity leave, and have made RRSP contributions in the past, you may want to consider withdrawing from your RRSP to make a TFSA contribution. However, remember that funds withdrawn from your RRSP cannot be re-contributed at a later date.
One strategy would be to contribute to your TFSA now and accumulate RRSP room to be used later when in a higher tax bracket to optimize the tax benefits.
This is a situation where you may want to maximize both your RRSP and TFSA contributions. In fact, the tax savings or refund received from the RRSP contribution could be used to fund the TFSA.
YOU MAY WANT TO RETHINK YOUR HOME BUYERS PLAN SAVINGS
If you are saving for a down payment on a house, a TFSA might be a better option than saving in an RRSP and withdrawing under the Home Buyers Plan (HBP). There are several reasons for this.
■ The flexibility to recontribute the TFSA withdrawal without time limits.1 If HBP repayments are not made on time, the annual repayment amount is added into your income and any missed repayment amount means the RRSP room is lost forever
■ There is no restriction on how much you can withdraw from your TFSA while the HBP restricts you to $25,000 from each your RRSP and your spouses RRSP. Alternatively, you could each contribute $5,000 a year for 5 years to a TFSA and then withdraw $25,000 plus any investment earnings tax free and with no required repayments
■ There are no conditions on TFSA withdrawals, whereas the HBP requires you to be a first time home buyer.
Similar logic could be applied to the Life Long Learning Plan. By using a TFSA to save and fund continuing education, contributors can gain increased withdrawal flexibility while eliminating any enrollment requirements or repayment conditions.
Whether to save in a TFSA, RRSP or both may depend on your savings needs, your eligibility for income tested benefits and your current and expected future financial situation and income level.
1 Amounts withdrawn in a taxation year will be reflected in contribution room in the following year.
Article courtesy of Manulife Financial and should not be relied upon for investment or tax advice. It is recommended to speak to a financial planner to review your particular situation.
Canadian home sales edge down from December to January
According to statistics released today by The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), national home sales were down slightly in January 2017 on a month-over-month basis.
- National home sales declined 1.3% from December 2016 to January 2017
- Actual (not seasonally adjusted) activity in January was up 1.9% from a year earlier
- The number of newly listed homes dropped 6.7% from December 2016 to January 2017
- The MLSHome Price Index (HPI) in January was up 15.0% year-over-year (y-o-y)
- The national average sale price was little changed (+0.2%) y-o-y in January
Sales activity was down from the previous month in about half of all local markets, led by three of Canadas largest urban centres: the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), Greater Vancouver, and Montreal.
Actual (not seasonally adjusted) sales activity was up 1.9% compared to the same month last year. While sales were up from year-ago levels in about two-thirds of all local housing markets including in the GTA, Calgary, Edmonton, London and St Thomas, and Montreal, they were down significantly in the Lower Mainland of British Columbia.
The number of newly listed homes dropped 6.7% in January 2017, the second consecutive monthly decline. New listings were down in about two-thirds of all local markets, led by the GTA and environs across Vancouver Island.
With the monthly decline in new listings surpassing the decline in sales, the national sales-to-new listings ratio jumped to 67.7% in January compared to 64.0% in December and 60.2% in November.
The ratio was above 60% in about half of all local housing markets in January, the vast majority of which are located in British Columbia, in and around the GTA and across southwestern Ontario. A monthly decline in newly listed homes further tightened housing markets that were already in sellers market territory.
There were 4.6 months of inventory on a national basis at the end of January 2017 unchanged from December 2016 and a six-year low for the measure.
The imbalance between limited housing supply and robust demand in Ontarios Greater Golden Horseshoe region is without precedent (the region includes the GTA, Hamilton-Burlington, Oakville-Milton, Guelph, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Brantford, the Niagara Region, Barrie and nearby cottage country). The number of months of inventory in January 2017 stood at or below one month in the GTA, Hamilton-Burlington, Oakville-Milton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Cambridge, Brantford and Guelph.
In the Fraser Valley and Greater Vancouver, prices have receded from their peaks posted in August 2016. That said, home prices in these regions nonetheless remain well above year-ago levels (+24.9% and +15.6% respectively).
Meanwhile, benchmark prices continue to climb in Victoria and elsewhere on Vancouver Island together with Greater Toronto, Oakville-Milton and Guelph. Year-over-year price gains in these five markets ranged from about 18% to 26% in January.
By comparison, home prices were down 2.9% y-o-y in Calgary and by 1.0% y-o-y in Saskatoon. Prices in these two markets now stand 5.9% and 4.3% below their respective peaks reached in 2015.
Home prices were up modestly from year-ago levels in Regina (+3.8%), Ottawa (+3.7%) and Greater Montreal (+3.1%). In Greater Moncton, home prices for the market overall held steady (-0.2%), reflecting an increase in townhouse row units prices (5.8%) that was offset by a decline in prices for one-storey single family homes (-1.0%).
The actual (not seasonally adjusted) national average price for homes sold in January 2017 was $470,253, almost unchanged (+0.2%) from where it stood one year earlier.
The national average price continues to be pulled upward by sales activity in Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto, which remain two of Canadas tightest, most active and expensive housing markets.
That said, Greater Vancouvers share of national sales activity has diminished considerably over the past year, giving it less upward influence on the national average price. The average price is reduced by almost $120,000 to $351,998 if Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto sales are excluded from calculations.
Canadian Housing Starts Trend Increased in January
The trend measure of housing starts in Canada was 199,834 units in January compared to 197,881 in December, according to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The trend is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts.
CMHC uses the trend measure as a complement to the monthly SAAR of housing starts to account for considerable swings in monthly estimates and obtain a more complete picture of the state of Canadas housing market. In some situations analyzing only SAAR data can be misleading, as they are largely driven by the multi-unit segment of the market which can vary significantly from one month to the next.
The standalone monthly SAAR for all areas in Canada was 207,408 units in January, up from 206,305 units in December. The SAAR of urban starts increased by 1.0per cent in January to 189,688 units. Multiple urban starts increased by 4.2per cent to 125,886 units in January and single-detached urban starts decreased by 4.6 per cent, to 63,802 units.
In January, the seasonally adjusted annual rate of urban starts increased in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, but decreased in British Columbia, the Prairies and Quebec.
Rural starts were estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 17,720 units.