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Comparing the TFSA and RRSP

Young friends cross busy street in downtown Toronto.

Introduced in 1957, the RRSP was designed to help Canadians save for a secure and comfortable retirement. In 2009, the TFSA became the first major new retirement savings vehicle in decades. 

The key difference between the two is the timing of taxation:

  • RRSP contributions are tax deductible. You deduct any RRSP contributions from your taxable income for that year. Future withdrawals from your RRSP are then considered taxable income.
  • TFSA withdrawals are tax free. Because TFSA contributions are not tax deductible, you've already paid taxes on any funds which you deposit. Therefore any withdrawals are tax free.

As a result, whether you should choose an RRSP or a TFSA is going to depend on your marginal tax rate. 

For instance, if you are young and early in your career, you may want to contribute to a TFSA while your marginal tax rate is low. This way you can withdraw funds at a later date without having to pay a higher tax rate. The TFSA is better suited to short-term savings goals because withdrawals are not taxed and annual contribution limits are cumulative: any amount withdrawn will be added to your contribution limit in the following tax year.

2021 Contribution Limit 18% of 2021 earned income or $27,830, whichever is lower $6,000, cumulative
Taxation Tax-deductible contributions Tax-free withdrawals


Once you reach your peak earning years later in your career, contributing to an RRSP can be more valuable, since those contributions are tax deductible and can reduce your taxable income. The annual contribution limit is also tied to your income, so a higher income means more potential to accumulate savings faster. When you enter retirement, your marginal tax rate will go down, so income generated by your RRSP will be taxed at lower rate and generate a higher return.


​Monthly Deposits

Maximize your money by making monthly deposits to your RRSP and TFSA. This approach makes it easier to budget for contributions while growing your tax-sheltered interest and investment income every month. Even small automated payments will add up to a substantial contribution over time, with little stress.


Build a Savings Plan

IC Savings can help you build a financial plan based on your stage of life, your financial needs and your savings goals. Talk to us and gain control over your financial future.