TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Nov. 15, 2012) - While fewer than half (44 per cent) of Canadians are making the maximum contribution of $5,000 per year to their Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA), a new poll released today from BMO Bank of Montreal reveals the majority (57 per cent) plan to contribute the maximum allowable amount within the next five years. For 2012, the report shows Canadians plan to contribute an average of $3,778 to their TFSA.
Additionally, the report revealed:
- One-in-five (21 per cent) TFSA holders has made an account withdrawal this year, with 39 per cent withdrawing less than $1,000
- Since its introduction in 2009, 39 per cent of Canadians have opened a TFSA
- Intentions to open a TFSA have increased in the last year; 29 per cent of Canadians who do not have a TFSA plan to open one, compared with 22 per cent in 2011
- The most common TFSA investment is cash, with the majority (60 per cent) including cash in their TFSA; mutual funds and Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) are the second most popular TFSA investments, with one quarter (26 per cent and 25 per cent respectively) including them
- The least common are stocks (18 per cent), bonds (12 per cent) and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) (three per cent)
"Anyone who earns taxable interest can turn it into tax-free interest with a TFSA, making it a suitable and sensible option for just about any type of investor," said David Heatherly, Vice President, BMO Bank of Montreal. "Furthermore, the flexibility of this product allows Canadians to use a TFSA to its full advantage for any financial goal, be it short or long term."
Gaps Remain in TFSA Knowledge
However, since the TFSA's introduction in 2009 by the Federal Government, a lack of knowledge about it persists. While 60 per cent of Canadians say they are knowledgeable about this savings and investing vehicle, only 44 per cent of Canadians correctly identified the annual maximum contribution limit of $5,000. Furthermore, 37 per cent of Canadians say they do not know what investments can be held within a TFSA, and the majority of TFSA holders are unaware that bonds, stocks, and ETFs can be included in their account.
"Federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty introduced the TFSA four years ago and it is a fantastic savings vehicle. However, the findings suggest it's still a fairly new concept for some," added Mr. Heatherly. "With Financial Literacy Month upon us, now is an ideal time for Canadians to learn more about how TFSAs can help to grow savings tax-free and offset the taxes they pay on their overall investment profits."
- Canadians aged 18 and older can contribute up to $5,000 per year into a TFSA. Any unused contribution room from the previous year can be added to the contribution room for the following year. In addition, any withdrawals can be re-contributed the following year without affecting the annual contribution limits.
- You can hold the same investments in a TFSA as you could in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), including GICs, bonds, cash, mutual funds and stocks.
- Contributions to TFSAs are not deductible for tax purposes, and withdrawals of contributions and earnings from the account are not taxable.
To learn more about BMO's TFSA offering, please visit www.bmo.com/home/personal/banking/investments/tax-free/tfsa.
The Pollara online survey was completed between October 11 and October 16, 2012, with a sample of 1,000 Canadians. A probability sample of this size would yield results accurate to ± 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
About BMO Financial Group
Established in 1817 as Bank of Montreal, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified North American financial services organization. With total assets of $542 billion as at July 31, 2012, and more than 46,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of retail banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.