CIBC Poll: Higher TFSA limit prompts one-quarter of Canadians to save more

May 26, 2015, 04:00 ET from Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

While some Canadians plan to save more, others say they don't have the savings to take advantage of the higher limit

TORONTO, May 26, 2015 /CNW/ - A recent CIBC (TSX: CM) (NYSE: CM) poll finds that one-quarter (27 per cent) of Canadians plan to contribute more annually to their Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) following the federal government's decision to increase the annual contribution limit to $10,000 from $5,500.

The poll, conducted less than two weeks after the April 21 Federal Budget announcement, also found that another third (34 per cent) say they simply don't have the funds to take advantage of the new maximum.

Highlights of the poll include:

  • 27 per cent of Canadians say that the new TSFA contribution limit will support their savings plans this year by allowing them to contribute more
  • 34 per cent say they lack the funds to top up their TFSA
  • 70 per cent say they were aware that the government raised the annual TFSA limit to $10,000 from $5,500
    • 4 per cent have already topped up their TFSAs to $10,000
  • 20 per cent say they don't have a TFSA and have no plans to open one
  • 7 per cent say they don't have a TFSA but now plan to look into opening one due to the higher contribution limit

The poll also found that Canadians aged 55 and over demonstrated much stronger awareness (84 per cent) about the new contribution limit than younger Canadians aged 18-34 (55 per cent). Canadians 55 and over were also twice as likely as younger Canadians to say they typically contribute the maximum to their TFSAs, while those in their highest spending years (35-54) were least likely to contribute.

"It's encouraging to see Canadians are well aware of the increased TFSA limit, and that some are focused on increasing their contribution, though not everyone is able to," says Veni Iozzo, Senior Vice President, Deposits, GICs and Client Solutions at CIBC. "Awareness and intentions don't always translate into action, which is why creating a savings plan and following it is so important."

According to the poll, some Canadians say they already had trouble reaching the $5,500 limit; others are saving in their RRSPs and RESPs instead; or they just don't have enough extra money. Many others don't have a TFSA.

Previous CIBC research has found that Canadians are still focused on reducing household debt. A recent CIBC poll found that only 13 per cent of those expecting a tax refund this year plan to save or invest their windfall.

"Some people might not understand that, little by little, you can put money away in a TFSA - whether it's for your emergency fund, a down payment on a home or for retirement - even as you're working on other financial priorities," added Ms. Iozzo. "All of your investments grow tax free - and you can withdraw the money when you need it."

Tips for TFSA investors

The new TFSA contribution limit means Canadians can save significant amounts over time through a variety of investments, including savings accounts, GICs, mutual funds, stocks, bonds and certain shares of small business corporations. Here are a few tips:

  1. Create a plan for your TFSA: You are more likely to succeed in saving if you set clear goals. You can use a TFSA to save for retirement, a car, a down payment on a home or a rainy day fund - or you can use it to save for all of the above. You are not limited to having one "account" for your TFSA as you can simultaneously hold funds in a high interest savings account or a GIC for the short-term and in mutual funds, stocks or bonds for the longer term.
  2. Contribute regularly: Making regular contributions to your TFSA is often easier than coming up with one lump sum for your annual TFSA contribution. An advisor can help you set up an automatic regular savings plan to coincide with your pay schedule so that saving is easy.
  3. Be clear on the rules: You can withdraw funds from your TFSA anytime and for any purpose without incurring tax, though restrictions may apply depending on the investments that are held in your TFSA. You cannot re-contribute the amount you withdraw within the same calendar year but you can re-contribute the withdrawn amount the following year.
  4. Meet with an advisor: An advisor can help you establish a savings plan that aligns with your short- and long-term goals, and can also help to identify opportunities to build savings and structure a repayment plan that allows for debt reduction — both key elements of a savings strategy.

Consult with your financial advisor or Canada Revenue Agency for more information at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/tx/ndvdls/tpcs/tfsa-celi/menu-eng.html. You can also find out more about TFSAs on the Tax-Free Savings Account page on CIBC.com.

KEY POLL FINDINGS:

Awareness: Canadians aware that the Federal Government increased the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) contribution limit from $5,500 to $10,000 a year, by age:

    Age
All Canadians 18-34 35-54 55+
Yes 70% 55% 68% 84%
No 27% 39% 29% 14%
I don't know 3% 5% 3% 2%

Awareness: Canadians aware of the new TFSA limit on whether they will take advantage of the increase:

  Are aware of the new $10,000 limit
I haven't yet, but I intend to 38%
No, and I don't intend to 31%
No I have not because I don't have a TFSA 27%
Yes, I've topped up my TFSA and have contributed $10,000 4%

Savings goals: The impact the new $10,000 annual TFSA contribution limit on Canadians' savings goals:

  All Canadians
Canadians who say they will save more in their TFSAs as a result of the TFSA contribution  limit increase 27%
  I typically contribute the maximum and will now contribute $10,000 a year 10%
  I will try to increase my contribution above $5,500 17%
Canadians who say they don't have the funds to contribute more to their TFSA: 34%
  The increase will not affect me, I will probably contribute less than $5,500 18%
  I won't contribute to a TFSA because I contribute to other savings instead (e.g., RRSP, RESP) 4%
  I won't contribute to a TFSA because I don't have enough savings this year 12%
Other 39%
  I don't have a TFSA, and have no plans of getting one 20%
  I don't have a TFSA, but plan on looking into/getting one now 7%
  I don't know 10%
  Other 2%

On April 30 and May 4, 2015, an online survey was conducted among 3,011 randomly selected Canadian adults who are Angus Reid Forum panelists. The margin of error - which measures sampling variability - is +/- 1.8 per cent, 19 times out of 20. The results have been statistically weighted according to education, age, gender and region (and in Quebec language) Census data to ensure a sample representative of the entire adult population of Canada. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

About CIBC CIBC is a leading Canadian-based global financial institution with nearly 11 million personal banking and business clients. Through our three major business units - Retail and Business Banking, Wealth Management and Wholesale Banking - CIBC offers a full range of products and services through its comprehensive electronic banking network, branches and offices across Canada with offices in the United States and around the world. You can find other news releases and information about CIBC in our Media Centre on our corporate website at www.cibc.com.  

SOURCE Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce