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Canada Revenue Agency: Why TFSAs Are a Better Tax-Shelter Than RRSPs

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The Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) is the undisputed tax-shelter investment account in Canada until a challenger came along in 2009. Today, the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) is generally the better choice for savers and wealth builders. Financial experts say that the TFSA’s benefits are even better over the long run.

The advantage of the RRSP is the delay of tax payments into the future, which the TFSA doesn’t do. However, only the very high-income earners will benefit from not paying taxes in the present. Moreover, the money you will withdraw from the RRSP is considered taxable income.

As modest (or low) income earners outnumber the very high-income earners, the TFSA is the better tax shelter than the RRSP. In truth, taxation is not an issue unless you commit TFSA mistakes that will force the CRA to tax you.

Short-term hold

If you need money in the short-term, you can take advantage of the TFSA’s flexibility. Assuming you need to save extra for a particular purchase, you can invest in a high-yield stock like BTB (TSX:BTB.UN). This $326.93 million diversified real estate investment trust (REIT) offers a 7.97% dividend.

For every $1,000 you invest, you’ll earn $79.70 tax free. When you reach your target or short-term financial goal, you pay zero tax on your TFSA withdrawal.

TFSA users can also make the most of the 2020 contribution limit of $6,000. As BTB is trading at only $5.27, you can purchase 1,138 worth of shares. In return, you can collect a tax-free gain of $478.20 in one year.

The 66 real estate properties of BTB is a mix of commercial, office, and industrial rental properties.  More than 50% of these are located in Montreal, where government agencies or services and respectable businesses form the tenant base. Investors don’t expect capital gains but choose BTB for its tenant profile.

Long-term hold

The TFSA is not only for short-term goals, however. You can optimize the tax-free benefits if you have a longer investment window. Rogers Sugar (TSX:RSI), for example, is a favourite of TFSA users. Apart from its reasonable price, sugar is a consumer staple. The business is enduring, although sugar is also a low growth business.

Despite the struggles from weak volumes and weather disturbances on crops, many invest in Rogers Sugar for the outsized dividends. For $4.79, you partake in the incredible 7.44% dividend. Your $50,000 TFSA balance can double in less than 10 years.

Since its founding in 1997, Rogers Sugar didn’t veer away from the traditional sugar production method. However, the company recently expanded, adding other products with higher profit margins like maple sugar. Winter can damage crops but only temporarily. Still, the company should be operating for the long haul.

Zero taxation

In conclusion, RRSPs are meant for retirement savings or money you shouldn’t touch at all. Also, when you withdraw from the RRSP, you can’t restore the contribution room. With the TFSA, you can restore the contribution room.

Thus, if you own shares of BTB and Rogers Sugar, you’re not only getting a tax-shelter, but also zero-taxation all the way.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium service or advisor. We’re Motley! Questioning an investing thesis — even one of our own — helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer, so we sometimes publish articles that may not be in line with recommendations, rankings or other content.

Fool contributor Christopher Liew has no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

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