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How is my TFSA limit affected by any withdrawals I make?

Dear Nancy,

Thank you for your articles; they have helped to educate me about TFSAs.

I just had one question that I can't seem to find the answer to.

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Here is the scenario: I have maxed out my contributions for my TFSA in 2015. I have $41,000 in total in the account. Let's assume I have made some money in the form of capital gains with the cash I have in the account. So let's say the money has grown to $45,000. If I then decide to take out $4,000 dollars this year, next year will my contribution space be $10,000 or will it be $10,000 plus the $4,000 I took out?

Another way of looking at it: Lets say hypothetically I had $20,000 in the TFSA with $21,000 room for contribution this year and I somehow got extremely lucky and my money doubled due to investments I had in the TFSA to $40,000. Would I still be able to place $21,000 into the account for this year?

Thanks for your time,

Mario

Dear Mario,

In your first scenario, your contribution room would not be $10,000. Assuming the maximum for 2016 is the same as 2015, namely $10,000, and you take out $4,000, you need to wait until the following Jan. 1 to put it back in. So in your example for 2016, you can put in $10,000 plus what you withdrew in 2015, the $4,000. The maximum is then $14,000. Once you max out your contribution room for that year you can only add any additional amount that is equal to a withdrawal you did in prior years. The withdrawal amount cannot be replaced in the same calendar year.

The amount that you can contribute is not restricted by the amount that you have in the TFSA. The idea of the TFSA is to put in up to the maximum you are allowed and have the funds grow within the tax shelter. There is no limit as to how large the TFSA can grow. The total amount that the account grows to does not impact the contribution amount.

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Nancy Woods is an associate portfolio manager and investment adviser with RBC Dominion Securities Inc. Visit her website www.nancywoods.com or send an email request to asknancy@rbc.com. You can send your questions to asknancy@rbc.com as well.

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