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Your top-five tax questions answered


BMO Wealth Management asked Canadians what tax topics are on their minds most.

Here are their top five tax questions answered:

1. Should I contribute to my RRSP or TFSA?

(Asked by 46% of those polled)

“One key ‘rule of thumb’ to consider is your marginal tax rate today and your expected marginal tax rate in retirement, including the possible clawback of government benefits. Generally, if you expect your marginal tax rate to be lower when you retire, an RRSP is more beneficial, but if you expect the rate to be higher in retirement, then a TFSA may be the better option,” says John Waters, Vice President, Head of Tax & Estate Planning, BMO Wealth Management.

2. When is interest deductible for tax purposes?

(Asked by 45% of those polled)

“The purpose of the loan determines if the interest you pay on it is tax deductible or not. For example, if you borrow money to buy investments to generate taxable income such as interest or dividends, you can generally claim the interest you pay on the loan,” says Waters. “If you’re unsure about whether you can deduct interest on a loan for tax purposes, get help from a tax professional.”

3. How is my TFSA contribution limit calculated?

(Asked by 39% of those polled)

“Your TFSA contribution room is made up of the annual TFSA dollar limit for the current year – which is $5,500 for 2016 – any unused contribution room carried forward from the previous year, and any withdrawals you made from your TFSA in the previous year.

“It accumulates every year starting in 2009 for Canadian residents 18 years of age or older, even if you don’t file a tax return or open a TFSA,” adds Waters.

4. What should I do with my tax refund?

(Asked by 38% of those polled)

“The temptation is strong to use your refund to do something fun, like take a trip or buy a big ticket item. But before doing so, take some time to consider what would make the most financial sense for your individual situation,” says Waters. “Using the money to make a 2016 RRSP contribution now instead of waiting until the deadline will give you almost an extra year of tax-deferred growth. If you make a charitable donation with the funds, you’ll receive a tax credit.

“Other options could include making a TFSA contribution, paying off credit card debt, topping up savings, making a mortgage payment or saving for education.”

5. How does making a contribution to a registered charity help my tax bill?

(Asked by 36% of those polled)

“You’ll receive a non-refundable tax credit if you make a charitable donation. This can only be used to reduce tax owed. However, it’s important to remember that, if you aren’t subject to tax, you won’t get a refund,” says Waters

The survey results cited in the Bank of Montreal Tax Tips Report, conducted by Pollara, are compiled from a random sample of 1,516 adult Canadians between March 28 and 30, 2016. A probability sample of this size would yield results accurate to ± 2.5%, 19 times out of 20.