Since the launch of First Home Savings Accounts in April of 2023, only a few financial institutions have launched their product. We have compiled a list below of the ones currently available in the market to consider.
When can I open a FHSA account?
Who can open a FHSA?
Does an FHSA have an expiry date?
How much can I contribute to my FHSA in 2024?
What happens to the FHSA if you don't purchase a home?
What are some tips for savings for a down payment using an FHSA?
Natasha Macmillan, Business Unit Director - Everyday Banking
What is the First Home Savings Account (FHSA)?
The First Home Savings Account (FHSA) is a tax shelter proposed by the federal government in the 2022 budget to help Canadians save money to buy a first home.
This tax-free home savings account will combine the features of two savings plans you might already be using: the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) and the Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Just like your RRSP, contributions to your FHSA will be tax-deductible. This means that any amount you put in your account will be deducted from your taxable income, saving you money on your income tax.
As with your TFSA, any money your FHSA earns will be tax-free. You won’t have to report your investment earnings or pay income tax on them.
Check out the helpful video below on how to use the FHSA, then read on for more details.
How does the FHSA work?
1. Who can open a FHSA?
The First Home Savings Account (FHSA) is a new tool for all Canadians to save to buy a first home, open to anyone 18 or older.
2. What are the contribution and withdrawal considerations?
Eligible Canadians are able to set up a First Home Savings Account at any financial institution that offers TFSAs and RRSPs. FHSA contributions will be limited to $8,000 per year with a lifetime maximum of $40,000. Similar to RRSPs, the contributions are tax-deductible. If in any given year, you don’t hit your annual FHSA contribution limit, the leftover amount carries over to the next year. For example, if you contribute $5,000 in 2023, you will have $11,000 ($3,000 remaining from 2023 + $8,000 from 2024) worth of contribution room for 2024.
Canadians will have 15 years to buy a home from the time you open an FHSA. If you have not done so within the 15 years, the funds can be transferred to an RRSP without paying any taxes. Given that the intent of this account is to help home buyers, withdrawals put towards a home purchase will not be taxed.
In order to make a qualifying withdrawal, you must:
- Be a first-time home buyer
- Have a written agreement to buy or build a qualifying home with the acquisition or construction completion date of the qualifying home before October 1 of the year following the date of the withdrawal
- Occupy or intend to occupy the home as your principal place of residence within one year after buying or building it
- Not have acquired the home more than 30 days before making the withdrawal
Should your withdrawal not meet these conditions, it will be considered non-qualifying and the full amount of the withdrawal be added to your taxable income for the year. Finally, withdrawals do not have to be paid back
3. How can the FHSA be used?
As with other registered accounts, there are certain limitations on the types of investments that can be held in FHSAs.
The following investments can be held within an FHSA:
- Mutual funds
- GICs (Guaranteed investment certificates)
- Publicly traded securities (stocks, exchange traded funds - ETFs, etc.)
- Government bonds
Similarly to TFSAs, you won’t have to pay taxes on any of the gains these investments generate.
What to look for in FHSAs?
Before opening an FHSA, be sure to consider the following factors:
- Interest rates: Providers may provide competitive interest rates on funds held within your FHSA, similar to tax-free savings accounts. A FHSA that pays interest may be a good fit for Canadians who are seeking a risk free investment and want to earn tax-free interest on their cash.
- Fees: Should you prefer to invest the money held within your FHSA, it is always important to consider fees as they can add up quickly. Investing these funds can be done through a brokerage, online brokerage, or a robo-advisor.
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