BMO Financial Group

BMO Financial Group
BMO Bank of Montreal

BMO Bank of Montreal

January 02, 2014 07:00 ET

REPEAT-BMO Annual TFSA Report: TFSA Adoption Among Canadians Increases 23 Per Cent in 2013

- The majority of Canadians claim to be knowledgeable about the TFSA, however just 11 per cent can identify eligible investments and only 19 per cent know the new annual contribution limit

- TFSA holders plan to contribute an average of $3,625 this year

- Cash is the most common component being held in TFSAs, followed by mutual funds and GICs

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Jan. 2, 2014) - BMO Bank of Montreal today released its third annual Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) report, which found that half of Canadians (48 per cent) now report having a TFSA - up 23 per cent from 2012.

However, despite this impressive adoption rate, the study found that many Canadians remain unfamiliar with specific aspects of the program.

The study, conducted by Pollara, revealed:

  • TFSA holders plan to contribute an average of $3,625 this year
  • Canadian men and women are equally likely to have a TFSA, while those aged 65+ are more likely to have an account than Canadians in other age groups (53 per cent)
  • TFSA adoption is strongest in Western Canada (Alberta at 55 per cent, the Prairies and B.C. at 53 per cent each) and weakest in Atlantic Canada (34 per cent)
  • Canadians identified not having to pay taxes on withdrawals (33 per cent) and the ability to withdraw funds at any time (27 per cent) as being the key benefits of the TFSA
  • TFSAs are being used most often as a vehicle to save for retirement (47 per cent) and as an emergency source of funds (43 per cent)
  • Cash is the most common instrument being held in TFSAs (57 per cent), followed by mutual funds (25 per cent), Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) (23 per cent), stocks (14 per cent) and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) (5 per cent)

"When first introduced in the 2008 federal budget, the TFSA was described as a 'tax policy gem' that was good news for the country. Given the impressive adoption rate, it's clear that Canadians tend to agree," stated Christine Canning, Head of Everyday Banking Products, BMO Bank of Montreal. However, Ms. Canning did note that work still needs to be done to raise Canadians' knowledge about the program.

Canadians are still unfamiliar with TFSA specifics

The report found that, while 68 per cent of Canadians claim to be knowledgeable about TFSAs - up from 60 per cent in 2012 - many are still not familiar with specific aspects of the account:

  • Just 19 per cent know that the new contribution limit is $5,500 (up from $5,000)
  • Only 11 per cent correctly identified all six types of investments that are eligible to be held within a TFSA
  • Around half of Canadians stated that they know when TFSA contributions are taxed (52 per cent) and how much you are allowed to re-contribute after making a withdrawal (47 per cent)
  • One in ten (10 per cent) of TFSA holders have over-contributed since opening an account

"Being unaware of some of the specific rules around the TFSA can potentially lead to complications down the road," stated Ms. Canning. "For instance, those who over-contribute will be required to pay a tax of one per cent on the amount in excess of the limit. This can really add up, so it's essential that Canadians stay up to date on the specifics of the account."

Regional Breakdowns

Region % who have a TFSA % who report being knowledgeable about the TFSA % who know the new contribution limit % who can identify all investments that can be held within a TFSA
National 48 68 19 11
Atlantic 34 64 12 7
Quebec 40 54 13 9
Ontario 50 74 20 12
Prairies 53 74 24 13
Alberta 55 73 26 14
B.C. 53 70 22 13

TFSAs at a Glance

TFSAs allow Canadians to earn tax-free investment income to meet their savings needs. Key benefits of this registered plan include:

  • No minimum contribution required to open an account
  • Investors pay no income tax on investment returns earned in the account
  • There are no taxes on funds that are withdrawn
  • TFSAs can hold a wide range of investments
  • The federal government recently raised the 2013 annual contribution limit for a TFSA from $5,000 to $5,500

For more information on BMO's Tax Free Savings Account, please visit a BMO branch or online at

Results cited in this release come from a Pollara survey with an online sample of 1,023 adult Canadians, conducted between November 29th and December 5th, 2013. The margin of error for a probability sample of this size would be +/- 3.1%, 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 $537 billion as at October 31, 2013, and more than 45,000 employees, BMO Financial Group provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and solutions.

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