RRSP vs TFSA … quick facts

It is always to consider saving for your retirement and at the same time reduce your income tax and/or maximize your tax refund. Most people will start contemplating which road to go … RRSP or TFSA, but for starters, you may wonder what are they and which one is best for you?


RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan) is a savings plan registered with the federal government that allows you to save for your retirement. With an RRSP your contributions reduce your taxable income and your investments grow on a tax-deferred basis – you do not pay tax on interest, dividends and capital gains as long as they are held within the plan.

This differs from TFSA account which does not reduce your taxable income, but does give you the added benefit of not paying tax on your withdrawals.

A person can start contributing any time and at any age till plan holder reaches age 71.


TFSA (Tax Free Savings Account) is a flexible investment account that can help you meet both your short- and long-term goals. Investment income in a TFSA (interest, dividends, and capital gains) are not taxed, even when withdrawn, but unlike RRSP amounts contributed to the account are not deducted from taxable income.

Any Canadian resident age 18 or older with a Social Insurance Number can open a Tax Free Savings Account and you do not need to have earned income to contribute.

Although both types of investments share some similarities, there are several differences. Your investment advisor can help you decide how to best achieve your short and long term goals, but as a rule of thumb it is always a good idea to diversify your investment portfolio.

Contribution room 18% of previous year’s earned income, less any pension adjustment $5,000 / year, subject to inflation adjustment after 2009 as stated by Revenue Canada
Carry-forward of unused contribution room Unused contribution room carried forward until the year the contributor turns 71 Unused contribution room carried forward indefinitely
Require earned income to contribute YesNo
Age qualifications to make contributions Any age until you reach 71Must be over 18 and no maximum age
Are contributions tax deductible? Yes – reduces taxable income No
Tax implications on income growth Tax deferred (not taxed until withdrawn) Tax free (never taxed)
Tax implications on withdrawals Withdrawals are added to your taxable income in the year funds are withdrawn Withdrawals are tax free
Can I withdraw savings for any reason? Yes – but depending on kind of investment. Tax will be withheld at time of withdrawal Yes – but depending on kind of investment. No tax will be withheld at time of withdrawal
Am I required to convert my plan at a certain age Yes – RRSP must be converted to RIF or an annuity by end of the year you turn 71 or you can choose to close the plan No
Are there over-contribution penalty tax? Yes; excess contributions are subject to a penalty tax of 1% per month. Penalty tax only applies if you exceed the $2,000 lifetime over-contribution amount Yes; excess contributions are subject to a penalty tax of 1% per month

So which investment type is a better option?

While the TFSA is a great investment to meet your short and long term investment goals, an RRSP is still one of the best ways to save for retirement. Both offer great ways to save, it will all depend on your short and long term investment goals. Your financial advisor can help you maximize your investments over the short and long term by understanding your goals.

RRSP is a great vehicle to reduce your taxable income and have your investment grow on tax-deferred bases it will help keep you more disciplined about savings since withdrawing the funds may result in paying more income tax. If you are focused on saving for retirement, consider minimizing your income tax with an RRSP and using TFSA as a second source of savings, your TFSA can complement you RRSP by giving you another way to shelter investment earnings for each taxation year. This will specially be useful if you have exhausted your RRSP contribution room or if you are retired and can no longer contribute to an RRSP. The TFSA may also be preferable for those with minimal retirement income prospects who are concerned about losing the guaranteed income supplement or other government assistance that is based on household income.

Please note that the above information is intended as a general source of information and should not be considered as specific source of tax, legal or financial advice. Tax rules and regulations are subject to change at any time, and we at MMS Accounting & Bookkeeping will help you navigate and fully benefit from any tax savings available to you. Should you need help to find out what is the right amount of contribution to make to your RRSP for maximum tax savings, we will gladly provide you with different scenarios. Remember, your RRSP contribution deadline for current year is March 1 of the following year. TFSA contributions work on a calendar year bases, so for contributions for current year, it need to be made by December 31.

Types of Business Structure in Canada

Are you thinking of starting your own business? Great, now the question is what form of business ownership to choose. It is important to choose the right form of business

Essentially there are four forms of business ownership in Canada:

  1. Sole Proprietorship
  2. Partnership
  3. Corporation – Federal or Provincial
  4. Cooperative

Each type of ownership formation has its advantages and disadvantages, we will give a brief summary for each type of business set up. Please contact us and we will be happy to work with you to select the best set-up for your needs.

Please be advised that MMS Accounting & Bookkeeping Services is an accounting firm, WE ARE NOT LAWYERS and CANNOT GIVE LEGAL ADVICE. The information provided are intended to be used as a general guide only, for further assistance or legal information, please consult your lawyer.

Sole Proprietorship

With this type of business organization, you would be fully responsible for all debts and obligations related to your business and all profits would be yours alone to keep. As a sole owner of the business, a creditor can make a claim against your personal or business assets to pay off any debt.


  • easy and inexpensive to form a sole proprietorship (you will only need to register your business name provincially, except in Newfoundland and Labrador);
  • relatively low cost to start your business
  • lowest amount of regulatory burden
  • direct control of decision making
  • minimal working capital required to start-up
  • tax advantages if your business is not doing well, for example, deducting your losses from your personal income, lower tax bracket when profits are low, and so on
  • all profits will go to you directly


  • unlimited liability (if you have business debts, personal assets would be used to pay off the debt)
  • income would be taxable at your personal rate and, if your business is profitable, this may put you in a higher tax bracket
  • lack of continuity for your business, if you need to be absent
  • difficulty raising capital on your own


A partnership would be a good business structure, if you want to carry on a business with a partner and you do not wish to incorporate your business. With a partnership, you would combine your financial resources with your partner into the business. You can establish the terms of your business with your partner and protect yourself in case of a disagreement or dissolution by drawing up a specific business agreement. As a partner, you would share in the profits of your business according to the terms of your agreement.

You may also be interested in a limited liability partnership (LLP) in the business. This means that you would not take part in the control or management of the business, but would be liable for debts to a specified extent only.

When establishing a partnership, you should have a partnership agreement drawn up with the assistance of a lawyer, to ensure that:

  • you are protecting your interests
  • that you have clearly established the terms of the partnership with regards to issues like profit sharing, dissolving the partnership, and more
  • that you meet the legal requirements for a limited partnership (if applicable)


  • easy to start-up a partnership
  • start-up costs would be shared equally with you and your partner
  • equal share in the management, profits and assets
  • tax advantage, if income from the partnership is low or loses money (you and your partner include your share of the partnership in your individual tax return)


  • similar to sole proprietorship, as there is no legal difference between you and your business
  • unlimited liability (if you have business debts, personal assets would be used to pay off the debt)
  • hard to find a suitable partner
  • possible development of conflict between you and your partner
  • you are held financially responsible for business decisions made by your partner (for example, contracts that are broken)


Incorporation is a process by which a corporation is formed. A corporation is defined as a business venture comprising an individual, or group of individuals, treated by the law as an individual.

Benefits of Incorporating:                                                                                    

Separate Legal Entity

The act of incorporating creates a legal entity called a corporation, commonly referred to as a “company.” A corporation has the same rights and obligations under Canadian law as a natural person. Among other things, this means it can acquire assets, go into debt, enter into contracts, sue or be sued, and even be found guilty of committing a crime. A corporation’s money and other assets belong to the corporation and not to its shareholders.

When a business is incorporated, its separate legal status, property, rights and liabilities continue to exist until the corporation is dissolved, even if one or more shareholders or directors sell their shares, die or leave the corporation.

Limited Liability

The act of incorporation limits the liability of a corporation’s shareholders. This means that, as a general rule, the shareholders of a corporation are not responsible for its debts. If the corporation goes bankrupt, a shareholder will not lose more than his or her investment (unless the shareholder has provided personal guarantees for the corporation’s debts). Creditors also cannot sue shareholders for liabilities (debts) incurred by the corporation, even though shareholders are owners of the corporation. Note, however, that if a shareholder has another relationship with the corporation —; for example, as a director —; then he or she may, in certain circumstances, be liable for the debts of the corporation.

The Canada Business Corporations Act (CBCA) places a number of obligations and responsibilities on directors. For example, it says that directors can be held liable for certain acts or failures to act. Chapter 7 of this guide Organizing Your Corporation: The Directors, contains further information on the role of directors.

Lower Corporate Tax Rates

Because corporations are taxed separately from their owners, and the corporate tax rate is generally lower than the individual tax rate, incorporation may offer you some fiscal advantages. However, we strongly suggest that you ask a lawyer or accountant to help you assess whether incorporating might save you money.

Greater Access to Capital

It is often easier for corporations to raise money than it is for other forms of business. For example, while corporations have the option of issuing bonds or share certificates to investors, other types of businesses must rely solely on their own money and loans for capital. This can limit the ability of a business to expand.

Corporations are also often able to borrow money at lower rates than those paid by other types of businesses, simply because financial institutions and other sources of financing tend to see loans to corporations as less risky than those given to other forms of enterprise.

Continuous Existence

While a partnership or sole proprietorship ceases to exist upon the death of its owner(s), a corporation continues to live on even if every shareholder and director were to die. This is because, in the case of a corporation, ownership of the business would simply transfer to the shareholders’ heirs.

This assurance of continuous existence gives a corporation greater stability. This, in turn, allows the corporation to plan over a longer term, thereby helping it obtain more favourable financing.

Implications of Incorporating: 

Higher Start-Up Costs

If you decide to incorporate your business, you will have higher start-up costs than if you carry on the business as a sole proprietorship or partnership. Some of these costs are directly related to the process of setting up the corporation, while others can include professional fees paid for legal and accounting services. Although there is no requirement to obtain legal advice to incorporate, we encourage you to do so, especially if you are considering setting up a company with a complex share structure.

Increased formalities

All federally incorporated businesses must file certain documents with Corporations Canada. Among these are:

  • Articles of Incorporation;
  • an Annual Return; and
  • notices of any changes in the board of directors and/or the address of the registered office.

A federally incorporated business must also:

  • maintain certain specified corporate records;
  • file corporate income tax returns; and
  • register in any province or territory where it carries on business.

More complex structure

Because a corporation is a separate legal entity that has no physical form, its activities must be carried out by individuals who have an interest in the corporation and are entitled to act on its behalf. These individuals can be divided into three categories:

  1. Shareholders —; These are the people who own the corporation. They make decisions by voting and passing resolutions generally at a shareholders’ meeting. Most importantly, they elect the directors of the corporation.
  2. Directors —; They supervise the management of the corporation’s business. A corporation must have at least one director. They are also responsible for appointing the corporation’s officers.
  3. Officers —; A corporation’s officers hold positions such as president, chief executive officer, secretary and chief financial officer. Although a corporation’s officers are appointed by the directors, their duties are normally set out in the by-laws. In general, officers are responsible for managing and executing the corporation’s day-to-day business.

An individual may hold more than one of these positions in a corporation. For example, the same individual may be a shareholder, a director and an officer, or even the sole shareholder, sole director and sole officer.

Federal or Provincial?

To decide whether to incorporate federally or provincially you should ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Where will the corporation carry on business? In one or more provinces, or across Canada?
  2. Is federal name protection important for the business? Will the corporate name be used in other provinces or territories?
  3. Is the corporate name unique to justify protecting it with federal incorporation?
  4. Will you decide to incorporate additional companies in the future? If so, it is generally recommended to incorporate these new companies in the same jurisdiction as the first corporation, so that future corporate changes can be made cheaply and easily



  • Owned and controlled by its members
  • Democratic control (one member, one vote)
  • Limited liability Profit distribution


  • Longer decision-making process
  • Participation of all members is required in order to succeed
  • Extensive record keeping
  • Less incentive to invest additional capital

Do you pay tax on foreign income?

Do I need to pay tax on income earned outside Canada?

If you earned income while working outside Canada or earned income from foreign sources, then you need to declare it.

Resident Canadians need to report income earned from all sources including foreign sources, this include employment income from another country, income from investment property (including stocks), income from business and dividends.

You may have already paid income tax in the country where you earned this income, and to keep you from paying taxes twice, CRA has in place a foreign income tax credit to decrease the income tax amount you have to pay on your Canadian income tax return, so long as Canada has a tax treaty in place with that country.

Tax Treaties

Canada has tax treaties with many countries around the world, the main purpose of tax treaties is to avoid double taxation and prevent tax evasion. Tax treaties: •define which taxes are covered and who is a resident and eligible to the benefits, •often reduce the amounts of tax to be withheld from interest, dividends, and royalties paid by a resident of one country to residents of the other country, •limit tax of one country on business income of a resident of the other country to that income from a permanent establishment in the first country, •define circumstances in which income of individuals resident in one country will be taxed in the other country, including salary, self-employment, pension, and other income, •may provide for exemption of certain types of organizations or individuals, and •provide procedural frameworks for enforcement and dispute resolution.

Foreign Tax Credit

Both Federal and Provincial foreign tax credits are available, and you may be able to claim this credit if you paid foreign taxes on income you received from outside Canada and reported on your Canadian income tax return.

Do you need to file a tax return?

you need to file an income tax return if:

• You have to pay tax during the year

• CRA sent you a request to file a return

• You and your spouse or common-law partner elected to split pension income for

• You received working income tax benefit advance payments

• You disposed of capital property (for example, if you sold real estate, your principal residence, or shares) or you realized a taxable capital gain (for example, if a mutual fund or trust attributed income to you, or you are reporting a capital gains reserve you claimed on your previous year return)

• You have to repay any of your old age security or employment insurance benefits

• You have not repaid all amounts withdrawn from your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) under the Home Buyers’ Plan or the Lifelong Learning Plan

• You have to contribute to the Canada Pension Plan (CPP). This can apply if for the tax year the total of your net self-employment income and pensionable employment income is more than $3,500

• You are paying employment insurance premiums on self-employment and other eligible earnings

Even if none of these requirements apply, you should file a return if:

• You want to claim a refund

• You want to claim the working income tax benefit

• You want the goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) credit (including any related provincial credits). For example, you may be eligible if you turn 19

• You or your spouse or common-law partner want to begin or continue receiving Canada Child Benefit payments, including related provincial or territorial benefit payments

• You have incurred a non-capital loss that you want to be able to apply in other years

• You want to report income for which you could contribute to an RRSP and/or a pooled registered pension plan (PRPP) to keep your RRSP/PRPP deduction limit for future years current

• You want to carry forward the unused investment tax credit on expenditures you incurred during the current year

• You receive the guaranteed income supplement or allowance benefits under the old age security program. You can usually renew your benefit by filing your return by April 30. If you choose not to file a return, you will have to complete a renewal form

RRSP! How much to contribute?

Maximize Your RRSP Contribution

RRSP Basics

A Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) is the single most important vehicle for Canadians to save for retirement, at the same time it is one of the best ways to reduce amount of tax you pay.

Money you contribute to your RRSP is deductible from taxable income – money you contribute to your RRSP is deducted from your income in the year contribution was made to your plan. Lets say in 2018 your earn $50,000 and contribute $4,000 to your RRSP, this $4,000 will be reduced from your annual earnings and income tax will be calculated as though you earned $46,000.

Money in your RRSP grow tax free – any profits earned on investments inside your RRSP are not taxed until the plan is closed and you start withdrawing money from the plan. All funds withdrawn from the plan will be added to your earnings in the year the withdrawal was made and income tax will be calculated on total earnings including funds withdrawn from your RRSP.

Contribution amount – in order to contribute to an RRSP, you need to have earned income (such as from employment or pension). The limit is 18% of your earned income in the preceding year up to a maximum of $26,230 (for 2018). Any unused room (if you contribute less than your maximum) will be carried forward till you reach age 71. Your Notice of Assessment will have your total contribution room.

Deadline for contributing to your 2018 RRSP – deadline for 2018 contributions will be March 1, 2019, or December 31, 2018 if you turn 71 in 2018.

Kinds of investments held in an RRSP – you can invest in anything you like from low risk GIC & bonds to higher risk like stocks (both Canadian & foreign)

Where to open an RRSP account – you can open your RRSP with banks, trust companies, credit unions, mutual fund companies, investment firms, and life insurance companies