What is a TFSA (Tax-Free Savings Account)?

A Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) is a registered tax-advantaged savings account that can help you earn money, tax-free, for your next big-ticket item.

You can think of a TFSA like a basket, where you can hold qualified investments, that may generate interest, capital gains, and dividends, tax-free.

Whether you're saving for your dream wedding, a rainy day, your first home, or an extended vacation, a TFSA can help you reach your goals sooner. To get you started, we break down: what is a TFSA, how it works, and how it can benefit your savings plan.

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When did Tax-Free-Savings Accounts become available?

The TFSA was introduced in 2009 by the Government of Canada as an incentive for eligible Canadians to save.

How does a TFSA work?

You can hold qualified investments like cash, stocks, bonds, mutual funds in a TFSA and can withdraw the interest, capital gains, and dividends earned in the account at any time1, without paying taxes (or reporting the withdrawals as income when you file your taxes).

Each year, the Government of Canada determines the maximum amount a holder of a TFSA can contribute to it. This limit is known as the contribution room. The contribution room begins to accumulate every year, if any time in the calendar year, a Canadian resident is 18 years and older. If you don't contribute the maximum amount set for a given year, this amount is carried forward and is added on to your contribution room for future years.

Learn more about contribution limits and withdrawal rules.

Who is eligible for a TFSA?

TFSAs are available to every Canadian resident, who has attained the legal age of majority in their province with a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN). 

To open a TFSA with TD, you must be of the age of majority in your province of residence.

Eligibility for non-residents of Canada

Non-residents of Canada with a valid SIN may be eligible for a TFSA; however, contributions made to a TFSA while the contributor is a non-resident are subject to a 1% tax for each month the contribution remains in the account.

If you become a non-resident of Canada after opening a TFSA, you can keep your TFSA and will not be taxed in Canada on the income you earn inside of the account.

What are the benefits of opening a TFSA?

There are many benefits of using a TFSA to save:

  • Added flexibility. A TFSA is a savings solution that offers you the flexibility to save for a multitude of short-term and long-term goals. It can help you reach your saving goals, and you can withdraw your money when you need it2.
  • Tax-free growth. You pay no tax on any investment income you may earn in your TFSA and you can hold a variety of qualified investments, including cash, stocks, guaranteed investment certificates and mutual funds. The higher the return potential on your investments, the faster your savings may grow, tax-free.
  • Retirement planning. A TFSA can complement your personal RRSP by providing additional tax-advantaged savings when you have no more RRSP contribution room or you are over age 71 and not allowed to hold an RRSP anymore. By contributing to a TFSA, your contributions as well as any income earned in the account are tax-free, even when withdrawn.
  • Making Withdrawals. You can withdraw funds from the TFSA without paying tax. This makes the TFSA a great tool to save for big-ticket items. When you're ready to use your funds, you can withdraw without paying tax. This gives you more money for the things you care about.

What are my TFSA investment options?

You can hold a variety of qualified investments in your TFSA – with common investment types being:

  • Cash
  • Mutual funds
  • GICs
  • Stocks
  • Bonds

Each investment type can differ in its advantages and disadvantages based on your savings goals. Consulting with a TD Financial Advisor can help you assess which investment option may be best for you, given the level of risk you're willing to take.

A TD Financial Advisor can also can provide you with more details on eligible investments offered by TD for your TFSA.

For more on TFSA investment rules, learn more.

How is a TFSA different from an RRSP?

TFSAs and RRSPs offer tax advantages that can help you achieve your saving and investing goals. In choosing one over the other, it's important to understand the differences and the benefits of each type of registered plan.

An RRSP is designed specifically to provide you with income after you retire. Your annual contribution limit is based on your income and the contributions you make are tax-deductible; withdrawals, on the other hand, are subject to taxation.

A TFSA is not designed specifically for retirement and can help you save money for a wide range of goals. The amount you can contribute is not based on your income and your contributions are not tax-deductible3. You can withdraw your money any time you want it4, and you don’t pay tax on those withdrawals. You also don’t lose contribution room when you make a withdrawal – you can recontribute that amount to your TFSA the following year or subsequent years.

Learn more about the differences between an RRSP and TFSA and how to decide between the two.

How can I open a TFSA at TD?

For more information on TFSAs and how you can reach your savings goals, book an appointment and visit a branch at a time that’s convenient for you. A TD Financial Advisor can help you find out whether a TFSA can meet your savings and investment goals.

Already have an EasyWeb account? Apply online and fill out an online application if you already have a TD Canada Trust chequing or savings account.

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Ready to get started? Explore your TD Canada Trust TFSA options.

1,2,3,4Subject to any restrictions on the investments chosen.
The above information about the Tax-Free Savings Account is based on the information currently available from the Canadian government. To learn more or to check for updates, visit the TFSA information page on the Canada Revenue Agency website.

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