Why creating a planned TFSA overcontribution isn’t a good suggestion


Jamie Golombek: CRA will tax any source of revenue or achieve coming up from a planned overcontribution at 100%

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A up to date case involving a large overcontribution right into a tax-free financial savings account (TFSA) generated a lot of fascinating questions from readers about how the ensuing penalty tax works, and the way perfect to reduce it. We’ll solution a few the ones questions beneath, however first let’s overview the TFSA contribution (and overcontribution) regulations.

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The TFSA annual greenback restrict for 2023 is $6,500, however you might be able to give a contribution greater than this quantity you probably have unused TFSA contribution room carried ahead from prior years. When you’ve by no means contributed to a TFSA earlier than, and feature been no less than 18 years of age and a resident of Canada since 2009, your cumulative TFSA restrict is lately $88,000.

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Every other level to bear in mind is that for individuals who have withdrawn budget from their TFSAs, the entire quantity withdrawn (this is, each your contributions and any tax-free source of revenue or enlargement) is added again in your contribution room starting the calendar yr after withdrawal.

When you reduce to rubble and overcontribute, there’s a penalty tax of 1 in line with cent per 30 days for every month there’s a TFSA overcontribution. The Source of revenue Tax Act, alternatively, permits the Canada Earnings Company the discretion to grant reduction, and states the CRA might waive or cancel the penalty tax if the surplus arose via “affordable error,” and is corrected via the person “at once.”

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The case I wrote about final week concerned a taxpayer who overcontributed to his TFSA to the music of $639,308 and invested the budget into shares. He used to be reassessed via the CRA and hit with an overcontribution tax of $6,393.08, which is one in line with cent of the overcontributed quantity, on the subject of one month of overcontribution in 2020.

After he used to be reassessed via the CRA and advised to right away withdraw his extra contributions, the taxpayer declined to take action, who prefer to attend till “the marketplace stepped forward.” At one level, his portfolio used to be down 50 in line with cent, which might be about $320,000.

Many readers puzzled why the taxpayer didn’t merely withdraw the surplus contribution “in-kind,” after which stay up for the shares to rebound out of doors his TFSA. There are two most probably causes.

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The primary is if the shares within the TFSA bounced again, the next restoration could be tax unfastened. If, alternatively, the shedding shares had been withdrawn “in-kind” from the TFSA, their price for tax functions, or adjusted price base, could be set on the truthful marketplace price at the date of withdrawal, or $320,000. If the shares absolutely recovered to $640,000, then a capital achieve of $320,000 would outcome when the shares had been offered, part of which might be taxable.

However the larger drawback is {that a} withdrawal of the shares in-kind, when they’re price simplest $320,000, would nonetheless go away a $320,000 TFSA overcontribution, which might generate an extra penalty of 1 in line with cent per 30 days till sufficient new TFSA room is generated. Ignoring periodic inflation changes to the yearly TFSA restrict, it could take just about 50 years for sufficient TFSA room to be generated to forestall the penalty tax. If this seems like an absurd outcome, it’s. And it’s one thing I officially posed to the CRA at a convention in 2021.

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I envisioned a situation the place a taxpayer moved to Canada in, say, 2023, and opened a TFSA quickly afterwards. As a result of he used to be up to now a non-resident, the taxpayer’s TFSA contribution room for 2023 used to be simplest $6,500. Because of a false impression of the principles, the taxpayer contributed $19,500 to his TFSA and invested all of it within the stocks of 1 corporate. Earlier than he had a possibility to withdraw his $13,000 overcontribution, the corporate went bankrupt and the worth of the stocks in his TFSA dropped to 0. How can the taxpayer forestall the TFSA overcontribution tax, or request a waiver of the tax, if he can not withdraw the overcontribution? Or does he merely wish to wait it out for 2 years, accruing the per thirty days penalty tax, till new TFSA contribution room opens up?

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The CRA spoke back that the taxpayer on this case is not able to withdraw any quantities from their TFSA and, due to this fact, “could be not able to mitigate the tax on this approach. Most effective new TFSA contribution room that turns into to be had to the person in years yet to come will serve to cut back the surplus TFSA quantity … (Since) the person is not able to withdraw any quantities from their TFSA … (the CRA) would don’t have any authority to waive or cancel the tax.”

Assuming the person doesn’t make any further contributions to his TFSA earlier than 2026 and the TFSA greenback restrict for every of 2024 and 2025 remained at $6,500, the surplus TFSA quantity could be lowered to $6,500 as of Jan. 1, 2024, and entirely eradicated as of Jan. 1, 2025. The online result’s that the person could be chargeable for the one-per-cent per thirty days tax in 2023 and 2024. The person may just resume making TFSA contributions once more in 2025.

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That is in point of fact an absurd outcome and requires a legislative repair. Within the interim, a taxpayer in this kind of scenario may just observe for a remission order.

The opposite query some readers had used to be whether or not it ever is sensible to intentionally overcontribute to a TFSA within the hope that any penalty tax may well be offset via the tax-free achieve within the TFSA.

As an example, let’s say Katy receives a sizzling tip a couple of penny inventory anticipated to double inside a month. She’s absolutely maxed out her TFSA contribution room, however intentionally overcontributes $500,000 into her TFSA in Would possibly 2023, and invests all of it in that one inventory. Certain sufficient, a month later, the inventory doubles to $1 million inside of her TFSA. She’s very happy to pay a one-per-cent penalty tax of $5,000 on her $500,000 overcontribution.

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However Katy wishes to grasp there’s a distinct anti-avoidance rule within the Tax Act that states that any source of revenue or achieve coming up from a planned TFSA overcontribution is regarded as to be an “benefit,” and is taxed at 100 in line with cent. Thus, creating a planned TFSA overcontribution isn’t a good suggestion.

Jamie Golombek, CPA, CA, CFP, CLU, TEP, is the managing director, Tax & Property Making plans with CIBC Personal Wealth in Toronto. Jamie.Golombek@cibc.com.


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