Tax Free Savings Account - Saving without hassles

The Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) is a flexible, registered general-purpose savings vehicle that allows Canadians to earn tax-free investment income to more easily meet lifelong savings needs. The TFSA complements existing registered savings plans like the Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSP) Pensions and the Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP). 


The maximum amount that you can contribute to your TFSA is limited by your TFSA contribution room. 
All TFSA contributions made during the year, including the replacement or re-contribution of withdrawals
made from a TFSA, will count against your contribution room.

The TFSA account is relatively new. The TFSA contribution limits starts accumulating once you turn 18 unlike RRSP where you need to have income declared to accumulate contribution room. It’s the perfect vehicle to create a passive income.

How much you can contribute is based on your accumulated limit and how much you have contributed. Your TFSA contribution room is pretty easy to calculate.

Annual TFSA Contribution Limits

Here are the limits for each year since inception. The total since the beginning and up to 2020 is $75,500. All of the profits made within a TFSA is completely tax free. The latest increase was for 2019 and the inflation adjustment is not pushing the limit to the next nearest $500 just yet. Future contribution limits are indexed to inflation rounded to the nearest $500.

2020 $6,000 $75,500
2019 $6,000 $63,500
2018 $5,500 $57,500
2017 $5,500 $52,000
2016 $5,500 $46,500
2015 $10,000 $41,000
2014 $5,500 $31,000
2013 $5,500 $25,500
2012 $5,000 $20,000
2011 $5,000 $15,000
2010 $5,000 $10,000
2009 $5,000 $5,000

TFSA Contribution Calculator

It’s pretty simple to calculate your contribution with the table above. The formula is the total for the current year minus your contribution to date minus the total for the year before you turn 18.

For example, if you turned 18 after 2011, the formula would have the following parameters:

  • Total for 2020 is $69,500
  • Contribution to date, say $10,000
  • Total before turning 18 is $10,000

We are left with the following math: $75,500 – $10,000 – $10,000 = $55,500

Now that you can easily calculate your potential and actual contribution room, my suggestion is that you try to keep up with filling up your contribution room if you can. A strong dividend growth approach will easily beat inflation and provide solid returns..

Accessing Your Contribution Details

As soon as you file a tax return, you should have an account with the Canada Revenue Agency and you can always check the status of your contribution room under your account. Financial institutions are required to report the contributions.

You simply need to create an account. It’s pretty useful to have the account and you can manage your direct deposit for your tax return.

Withdrawal Rules

You can withdraw tax-free at any time but you cannot contribute that money until the new year. If you were to contribute the maximum over the first few months of the year and then withdraw it in August, you can only add it back come January 1st of the following year.

TFSA Over-Contribution Penalty

If you happen to over contribute, the extra contribution will be subject to a 1% penalty per month. I recently handled an RRSP over-contribution and it’s more paperwork than you want.

If you realize you have over-contributed, quickly withdraw the amount and start filling the forms. Get ahead of it to avoid surprises.

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