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A Tax-Free Savings Account allows you to save without paying income on your investment earnings.

The Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) is an account registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) that allows you to set amounts of tax-free money aside each year throughout your life. The amount contributed as well as the income gained from investments in the account is tax-free, even on withdrawal.

You can work with a registered investment advisor to decide what investments you would like in your TFSA and if they suit your financial goals.

Opening a TFSA

In British Columbia, you must be 19 years or older to open a TFSA, and you don’t need to earn an income to contribute to an account. A registered investment advisor can help you set up your TFSA. Be sure to do the following:

  • Check to see what types of investments you can purchase through the account and your advisor – some advisors are limited to selling mutual funds, for example.
  • Ask questions about the different types of charges and fees related to the investments you purchase in your account.
  • Shop around to compare fees and other charges at other firms.

To open the account, you will need to provide the firm you are dealing with accurate information about your personal and financial circumstances. The Opening an Investment Account: A Guide for Investors from the investment dealer division of the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization (CIRO), discusses the ins and outs of opening different types of accounts.

Contributing to a TFSA

Unlike RRSPs, contributions to the account and administrative fees associated with the TFSA are not deductible for income tax purposes.

Various types of investments qualify for a TFSA, giving you the ability to save more aggressively if you so choose. There are some prohibited investments, so check with your registered investment advisor to ensure the investments you buy qualify for the account.

There are contribution limits for each year dating back to 2009 when the federal government introduced the TFSA.

Withdrawing Funds

You can withdraw money at any time from your TFSA without paying tax or reporting it on your tax returns. After a withdrawal, you can replace funds only if you have available contribution room. Withdrawing money does not reduce the total amount of contributions you have made in a calendar year.

Visit the CRA website for a full explanation on how withdrawals and contributions work.

Closing a TFSA

You can close a TFSA without affecting your overall contribution room for a year. However, there may be tax consequences if you don’t follow the correct process for closing or transferring funds.

Questions about TFSAs

Your registered investment advisor can answer questions about your TFSA, or you can visit the CRA website to find out more.

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