BMO Annual TFSA Study: Canadians Contribute Less to their TFSAs in 2016

  • Eighty-five per cent of TFSA holders contributed an average of about $1,000 less than last year – with top cited reason being a lack of funds to invest
  • Regionally, the report breaks down which provinces topped contributions for 2016, and which contributed the lowest amounts
  • Seventy per cent have some knowledge about TFSAs, up 3 per cent points from last year

TORONTO, Feb. 23, 2017 /CNW/ - BMO Financial Group today released the results of its annual Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) study, revealing Canadians' annual contributions in 2016 are down from last year ($4,592 vs. $5,531, respectively).

The report, conducted by Pollara, also revealed:

  • Canadians hold more in their TFSAs this year – averaging $17,328, up from $17,133 last year
  • However, the most common reasons for contributing less this year include not having enough money to invest (43 per cent), and needing the cash flow for other expenses (36 per cent)
  • Regionally, BC residents topped contributions for 2016 ($5,898), with Prairies residents contributing the least ($3,220)
  • Further, they anticipate even lower contributions in 2017, at a projected average contribution of $4,325

"While contribution levels are slightly lower, it's encouraging to see that Canadians, particularly millennials, have expanded their knowledge on the financial instruments they use – including the TFSA," said Ryan ffrench, Director, Term Investments, BMO Bank of Montreal. "However, one-third are still unaware of the maximum annual contribution level, likely owing in part to changes made over the years, so more work can be done to ensure Canadians continue to gain awareness and knowledge as it relates to this important savings vehicle."

Mr. ffrench added that while that maximum contribution amount has fluctuated, it is worthwhile to note that for 2017 it remains at $5,500.

2016 TFSA Regional Contribution Breakdown

 

Region

% of those who
contributed less
than $5,500 in 2016

% of those who
contributed the
maximum $5,500 in
2016

% of those who
contributed more
than $5,500 in 2016

Mean contribution
($)

National

39

15

7

4,592

Atlantic

36

12

12

4,312

Quebec

45

17

6

4,168

Ontario

37

15

6

4,771

Prairies

36

10

3

3,220

Alberta

40

16

8

3,849

B.C.

35

17

12

5,898

 

More Canadians Know the Ins and Outs of TFSAs

According to the report, Canadians' overall knowledge of TFSAs is on the rise:

  • Almost 80 per cent know cash investments are eligible for a TFSA, with 73 per cent and 69 per cent aware that mutual funds and GIC's qualify, respectively
  • Seventy-eight per cent are mindful that unused TFSA contribution room is carried forward, up 18 points from last year
  • Nearly two thirds (64 per cent) know about the penalty tax that over-contribution, withdrawing and re-contributing within the same year, may cause; further, of that same group, 57 per cent know the penalty is one per cent for each month the excess money is in the account

Mr. ffrench added that Canadians looking to learn more about TFSAs should speak to a financial planner who can help bring them clarity and deliver advice they need to make responsible investment choices.

The BMO TFSA Survey was conducted by Pollara between December 14th and 19th 2016, with an online sample of 1 500 adult Canadians. Data has been weighted using the latest census data to be representative in terms of age, gender and region. The margin of error for a probability sample size of 1,500 is ± 2.5% 19 times out of 20.

For more information on tax-free savings accounts or speaking to a financial planner to learn more, please visit bmo.com/tfsa.

For more information on investing, please visit bmo.com/investments.

About BMO Financial Group

Established in 1817, and currently marking its 200th year of operations, BMO Financial Group is a highly diversified financial services provider based in North America. With total assets of $688 billion as of October 31, 2016, and more than 45,000 employees, BMO provides a broad range of personal and commercial banking, wealth management and investment banking products and services to more than 12 million customers and conducts business through three operating groups: Personal and Commercial Banking, Wealth Management and BMO Capital Markets.

Media Contacts:
Michelle Agnelo, Toronto, michelle.agnelo@bmo.com, (416) 867-3996
Valerie Doucet, Montreal, valerie.doucet@bmo.com, (514) 877-8224

Web: www.bmo.com Twitter: @BMOmedia

SOURCE BMO Financial Group

For further information: Media Contacts: Michelle Agnelo, Toronto, michelle.agnelo@bmo.com, (416) 867-3996; Valerie Doucet, Montreal, valerie.doucet@bmo.com, (514) 877-8224; Web: www.bmo.com, Twitter: @BMOmedia

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