RRSP or TFSA: Which one makes sense for you?

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At first glance, many investors are left wondering whether they should invest in a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) or a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Both offer tax advantages, but deciding which account is more appropriate for you depends on your current circumstances, future plans, and overall financial strategy.

TFSA and RRSP Similarities

Both accounts offer tax advantages. Plus, both accounts allow you to invest in mutual funds, stocks, segregated funds, bonds and Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs), to name a few.

Registered Retirement Savings plans features include:

1. Contribution limits

Your allowable contribution is a lesser of $29,210 or 18% of earned income, less pension adjustment for 2022. You may also be able to tap into any unused contribution room you have carried forward from previous tax years.

2. Contributions are tax deductible

Allowable contributions are deducted from your gross taxable income for the year, and you may end up with a tax refund (which many recommend putting right back into your RRSP for next year or even a portion into your TFSA). This makes an RRSP an ideal first choice for savings especially for high-income earners, as you will receive a tax deduction in years where you are in a higher marginal tax rate than you might be when you withdraw from the account to supplement income.

3. Defer the taxes

Investments inside an RRSP grow on a tax-deferred basis; tax is payable when funds are withdrawn. Funds typically stay invested until you start income payments in your retirement years. RRSPs must be converted to a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) by the end of the year you turn 71. Withdrawals from RRIFs are fully taxable, and annual withdrawal amounts may reduce government Old Age Security benefits. Those with a rich pension plan, are working in retirement, or have other sources of alternative income, may want to consider additional savings options, such as a TFSA, in consultation with a financial advisor.

4. Estate Considerations

An RRSP (or RRIF) can transfer directly to your spouse or common-law partner upon your death on a tax-deferred basis when he or she is named the beneficiary directly on the account.

Tax Free Savings Accounts

1. Contribution limits

As of January 1, 2022, if you have reached the age of majority, you can contribute up to the maximum annual amount of $6,000. Any unused contribution amount can be carried forward to future years. If you have never contributed to a TFSA before and were at least 18 years old in 2009, your accumulated contribution room is $81,500 in 2022.

2. Tax free

Your annual contribution is not tax-deductible and any growth in your TFSA investments is sheltered from taxation even when money is withdrawn. You can withdraw TFSA money without paying tax at any time and, best of all, the full amount of any withdrawals can be put back into your TFSA in future years (but not the same year). Since there is no tax when you withdraw from a TFSA, you might consider investing in a TFSA when you are currently in a lower marginal tax bracket than you expect to be in the future.

3. Impact of eligibility on government benefits

Income earned in a TFSA and amounts withdrawn do not affect your eligibility for federal income-tested benefits and credits, such as Old Age Security or the Canada Child Tax Benefit.

4. Estate considerations

You can set up the account’s assets to transfer directly to your spouse or common law partner upon your death, as long as he or she is named the successor holder on your TFSA.

While an RRSP is primarily intended for your retirement, you can use a TFSA for any long-term investment goal.

We can help

At Edward Jones, we can help you achieve your financial goals.  A financial advisor can show you how TFSAs and RRSPs can provide you with plenty of flexibility in terms of savings opportunities and the capability to access money for emergencies. Contact your local Edward Jones advisor about a financial strategy that makes sense for you.