The 2015 federal budget: What Canadians Need to Know

Finance Minister, Joe Oliver introduced the government’s 2015 Federal Budget yesterday. The big takeaway is that there will be tax breaks for everyone. Yay! 😀 The proposed budget is expected to get passed as the Tories hold a majority government.

It’s nice to finally see some welcomed changes in fiscal policy to address the economy rather than rely on monetary policy alone. 🙂 Federal budgets are important because it shapes the way we plan our personal finances.

Increased TFSA Contribution Room

The annual contribution limit for the Tax Free Savings Account rises to $10,000 effective immediately. This means Canadians who have already maxed out their TFSA for 2015 will now have another $4,500 of contribution room to use. The TFSA is a holding account where we can buy investments and not pay taxes on the gains.

Some people believe this change will only benefit the upper class who are already wealthy. Here’s my poor attempt at humour on Twitter from yesterday.

However, Ottawa says that individuals with annual incomes of less than $80,000 accounted for more than 80% of all TFSA holders at the end of 2013. And about half of TFSA holders had annual incomes less than $42,000, meaning the TFSA is mostly being used by the middle class. Personally I think the new TFSA policy benefits serious savers, not necessarily the wealthy.

RRSP delays taxation to a future date when we’ll likely be in a lower income tax bracket than today. Gains in a TFSA are made from after tax contributions and are not taxed, for the most part. So between the RRSP and TFSA average Canadians now have a lot more freedom and room to save and invest with preferential tax treatments.

Here’s a table showing how much someone would need to save to max out both accounts. The maximum RRSP contribution limit assumes the person earned the same income in the previous year.

Combined Tax Sheltered Savings Table 2015

Annual Gross Income Max TFSA Room Max RRSP Room Combined TFSA/RRSP Limit % of Income
$20,000 $10,000 $3,600 $13,600 68%
$30,000 $10,000 $5,400 $15,400 51%
$40,000 $10,000 $7,200 $17,200 43%
$50,000 $10,000 $9,000 $19,000 38%
$60,000 $10,000 $10,800 $20,800 35%
$70,000 $10,000 $12,600 $22,600 32%
$80,000 $10,000 $14,400 $24,400 31%
$90,000 $10,000 $16,200 $26,200 29%
$100,000 $10,000 $18,000 $28,000 28%


As we can see people who make $50,000 a year will have to save more than 38% of their incomes before running out of space in tax advantaged accounts. There is no point in buying GICs, bonds, stocks, mutual funds, and other investments in a regular cash account anymore, unless you’re like me and trade derivatives or buy securities on margin. 😉

Decreased Minimum RIF Withdrawal Rate

The new federal budget also gives seniors more options. When an RRSP is converted into a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) retirees will be able to leave more money in their tax sheltered account each year to help their savings last longer and can also lower their overall tax burden. The proposed new RIF minimum withdrawal rate will decrease from the current 7.38% at the age of 71, to 5.28% starting at the age of 71, and gradually increase to 20% by age 95. 😄


In general lower income, and younger folks should prioritize saving in a TFSA before considering RRSP, and vice-versa for high income earners. I like to put bonds in my RRSP, and the more volatile, higher potential investments in my TFSA. For most Canadians I believe the TFSA has a more important role in our financial lives than the RRSP. However, both are important as the RRSP can save us money today by delaying the tax liability to future years, while the TFSA can save us money in the future. Holding the right amount of each can minimize the overall taxes we pay over time.

In today’s dollars if someone retires at age 60 with a TFSA portfolio of $500,000 and an RSP/RIF portfolio of $250,000, here is what their retirement might look like:

  • They take out $10,000 from a RRIF. This is taxable income but no taxes are paid because it’s below the $11,300 basic personal amount.
  • They take out another $20,000 from a TFSA. This is tax free income.

That’s a combined annual retirement income of $30,000 completely tax free. 🙂 On top of this most Canadians will receive government benefits like OAS, GIS, and CPP. The $30,000 withdrawal represents 4% of the entire $750,000 portfolio so it should be sustainable. Furthermore TFSA withdrawals don’t count as income for clawing back old age benefits. This is one reason why the TFSA might be a better option than the RRSP for most people. 😉

By contributing the maximum amount starting now ($10,000/year) it will take 26 years to build a TFSA portfolio worth $500,000, assuming an average investment return of 5%/year over inflation. The earlier we start the better. However the TFSA does not appear to be very popular with the younger generation.


The changes to the TFSA and RIF are essentially tax breaks for Canadian savers and seniors. 🙂


Other 2015 Federal Budget Highlights

  • Employment Insurance (EI) premium rate cut from 1.88% to 1.49% starting in 2017, a reduction of 21%. This will keep more money in the pockets of both individuals and businesses.
  • EI benefits to care for a sick or dying relative extended to six months from current six weeks.
  • A new home accessibility tax credit to renovate homes to make them more accessible for seniors and people with disabilities.
  • Small businesses earning less than half a million dollars will see their tax rate cut to 9% from 11% by 2019.
  • Industry will see the accelerated capital cost allowance for new equipment extended 10 years.
  • Changes to student grant and loan programs to ease eligibility for short-term students and working students.
  • $292.5 million for the RCMP, Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) and Canada Border Services Agency for counter-terrorism.

You may download the full 500+ page federal budget plan for 2015 here.

Random Useless Fact:




Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
04/22/2015 8:24 am

I prefer chipmunks over French cats but that is personnal taste, as far as pictures go anyways.

Interesting that they have lowered the RIF withdrawal rates. I have not seen the complete chart as of yet but it is a bit early. I am sure this will do much to draw out the funds available to seniors in their golden years.
It will be interesting to see how future governments try to dip in to the wealth they are presently allowing people to squirrel away.

Will take advantage of the new TFSA max next week.

04/22/2015 8:47 am

Woot woot! More TFSA room! Damn government is good at buying my vote… – Cheers.

04/23/2015 10:21 pm
Reply to  Phil

You realize they are toying with you? You don’t have to vote for them and we still will have this increase – it has already passed. They promised this 4 years ago before their last election. Now they are giving it at the most opportunistic time before their next one – 4 years too late, in my opinion. Had they given it right away when they got re-elected, or even before, we would have had an extra ~$20,000 room in our portfolios. This is a last ditch effort to try persuade people who have a 6 month memory to vote for them despite all the negative things they have done to our economy, land, and people.

04/22/2015 4:06 pm

Pretty happy with the increase in TFSA contribution, now time to save more money and put that into TFSA.

04/22/2015 4:36 pm

I am not a fan of Harper and I am annoyed that I am paying for his wife to live at a hotel instead of with him. I don’t blame her for not wanting to live with him because I can’t imagine why anyone would want to spend any time with him but even though I don’t like Harper I do like the new 6 month paid leave to care for a sick relative. That is very humane.

That may be off the financial track but I pay a lot of taxes out of my $51,000 per year and I don’t seem to ever qualify for any of the tax breaks so I can at least demand that the government tries to minimize their expenditures to reduce my tax burden.

04/24/2015 2:28 am

We may earn around the same amount but you are much more daring in your investment approach. I put the little bits of money I can scrounge in to ETFs inside my RRSP. I could never take on debt to finance an investment. I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night if I did.

04/22/2015 10:39 pm

Nice breakdown of the explanation between rrsp and tfsa for the middle income earners. I haven’t contributed this year to my tfsa. Maybe I should move some money around to make the contribution. Still haven’t figured out what is the best for my investments yet…

04/23/2015 6:52 am

$28,000 a year between TFSA and RRSP is pretty nice… Better than we can do here in the states… $23,500 is our cap between 401K and IRA.. There is more room to run the 401k up to $53,000 but only in some limited plans that are set by your employer..

The Asian Pear
The Asian Pear
04/23/2015 8:54 am

Thanks for the overview. Although I will benefit from the TFSA limit increase, I still maintain it won’t help a lot of Canadians and will hurt us in the long run. I’ve already maxed out my contribution earlier this year when it was $5.5K so I’ll bump up to the full $10K later. I always try to max out both my RRSP and TFSAs annually.

I didn’t know about the accessible homes tax credit. I will look into that. Thanks.

04/23/2015 2:18 pm

I have a question regarding TFSA. I started investing in TFSA 3 years back and no looking to buy shares from TFSA (Shares that dont pay back dividends). What happens if i sell those shares. Is my capital gain taxable when i withdraw money from TFSA ?

04/23/2015 9:33 pm
Reply to  Manish

No, there are no capital gains or income tax. That’s why TFSA are awesome.

04/24/2015 2:39 am

As always, thanks for your fun posting. I wanted to let you know that I and probably so many other readers, enjoy your blog.



04/24/2015 4:49 am

Thanks for keeping us updated Liquid

04/24/2015 3:51 pm

Your enthusiasm in investing is always infectious. I got it from you 🙂
I can’t wait to max my TFSA this year.