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 However, remember that funds withdrawn from your RRSP cannot be re-contributed at a later date.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.
A good credit report and credit score are important factors in determining whether or not you will be approved for a mortgage. Here are some simple steps you can take to maintain a good credit history, and improve your chances of being approved.
What is a Credit Score
Your credit score is a number that illustrates your financial health at a specific point in time. It also serves as an indicator of your financial past, and how consistently you pay off your bills and debts. This is one of the factors mortgage professionals consider in qualifying you for a mortgage.
How to Check Your Credit Score
To find out your credit score, contact Canadas two credit-reporting agencies: Equifax Canada at www.equifax.ca and TransUnion Canada at www.transunion.ca. For a fee, these agencies will provide you with an online copy of your credit score as well as a credit report a detailed summary of your credit history, employment history and personal financial information on file. You can also obtain a free copy of your credit report by mail. If you find any errors in your report, notify the credit-reporting agency and the organization responsible for the inaccuracy immediately.
If You Do Not Have a Credit Score
Its important to begin building a credit history as early as possible. You can begin to build one by applying for and responsibly using a credit card. Your financial institution or mortgage professional can help.
How to Improve Your Credit Score
Demonstrating your ability to manage credit is key to maintaining a good credit score. There are a number of things you can do to improve your credit score. These include: Always pay your bills in full and on time. If you cannot pay the full amount, try to pay at least the required minimum shown on your monthly statement. Pay off your debts (such as loans, credit cards, lines of credit, etc.) as quickly as possible. Never go over the limit on your credit cards, and try to keep your balances well below the limits. Reduce the number of credit card or loan applications you make. Once your credit score has improved, work with your mortgage professional to obtain a mortgage that works for you.
Find Out More
To find out more about credit scores and reports, visit the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada website and download or request a free copy of their guide, Understanding Your Credit Report and Credit Score. This guide provides practical, straightforward information on how to obtain and understand your credit report and score, as well as how to build and maintain a good credit history.
CMHC’s 2017 Mortgage Consumer Survey
In March 2017, CMHC completed an online survey of 3,002 recent mortgage consumers, all prime household decision-makers who had undertaken a mortgage transaction in the past 12 months. Sixty-five percent had undergone a mortgage renewal, 15% had refinanced their mortgage, and 20% had purchased a home with mortgage financing (11% First-Time Buyers and 9% Repeat Buyers). CMHC has conducted this survey since 1999. It is the largest and most comprehensive survey of its kind in Canada.
The Home Buying Process
Sixty-four percent of First-Time Buyers indicated they were renting before purchasing, and 34% lived with family.
Wanting to buy their first home (37%) and feeling financially ready (31%) were the most important reasons First-Time Buyers gave for purchasing a home in the past year. Low interest rates was the most important reason noted by Repeat Buyers at 33%.
Fifty-three percent of buyers were aware of the latest mortgage qualification changes, and 19% noted that it impacted their purchase decision. For example, 11% of buyers said they increased their down payment, 6% purchased a smaller home, 5% purchased in a dfferent location, and 3% delayed their purchase.
Buyers interact with a wide variety of people, and are most likely to consult a real estate agent (72%), or look to a family member or mortgage lender for advice (both at 57%). Forty-one percent reported interacting with a mortgage broker. Of all interactions, real estate agents were noted as most valuable.
Seventy-one percent of First-Time Buyers accessed savings for their down payment, while 18% received a gift from a family member.
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