New data from CRA shows Canadians have nearly 300 billion reasons to love their TFSAs

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The stats released also show a breakdown of TFSA holders by income level, with 52 per cent of TFSA holders reporting a total income of under $50,000 on their 2018 return. The average TFSA balance at Dec. 31, 2018 of $20,300 was pretty consistent across all income brackets from $20,000 up to $90,000. For those with total income above $90,000 and up to $250,000, the average balance was slightly larger at about $27,000. For the highest income-earners, or those Canadians with an income of over $250,000, the average TFSA balance was just shy of $43,000.

Of course, with all this talk of TFSAs, let’s not forget that we are in the middle of RRSP season, as you only have until March 1, 2021 to contribute to your RRSP to be entitled to claim a deduction on your 2020 return. For 2021, the new RRSP dollar limit is $27,830 or 18 per cent of your 2020 earned income, whichever is lower, less any pension adjustment from your employer. (You have until March 1, 2022 to make this year’s contribution.)

When asked whether someone should contribute to an RRSP or TFSA, my standard reply is: “Both!” But for most people, that’s simply not an option due to a lack of funds, so it’s important to point out a few critical differences between the two savings plans.

First, with a TFSA, there’s no maximum age limit to contribute, unlike an RRSP, to which you can only contribute up to, and including, the year in which you turn 71 (unless you have a younger spouse or partner). This makes the TFSA an ideal vehicle for seniors over the age of 71 to continue to shelter their investment income or even to contribute the after-tax value of their mandatory annual RRIF withdrawals. The newly-released stats show that nearly 19 per cent of all TFSA account holders in 2018 were age 70 or older.

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