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Just In: Most FHSA Accounts Opened by Under 34s

By the Inspired Investor team

Published August 25, 2023 • 4 Min Read

Have you heard? The First Home Savings Account (FHSA) is making headlines. The newest registered account has sparked media attention and even a tweet (or maybe it’s an “x” now?) by the Prime Minister.

So, what’s all the hype about? Announced as part of the federal government’s 2022 budget, the FHSA is designed to help Canadians to save for their first home. From a tax perspective, it combines the advantages of two common registered plans — the registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) and the tax-free savings account (TFSA).

“We’re seeing a lot of interest in this new tax-free account, particularly among younger Canadians who are building a down payment for their first home,” said Flora Do, vice president, Investments Transformation & Client Segments, Personal Banking & Investments, RBC. Because FHSA contributions are tax deductible, opening and contributing to an FHSA this year means you’ll get the income tax deduction for the 2023 calendar year.

Save for your first home, tax-free.

The new First Home Savings Account is here.

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Who is opening FHSAs at RBC?

Since launch, tens of thousands of Canadians have opened FHSAs at RBC alone, and more than one-quarter of RBC FHSA holders have already contributed all or most of the $8,000 maximum annual amount. The most common investments held in RBC FHSAs so far? Not surprisingly, it’s stocks and ETFs. (As of June 23, 2023, mutual funds and a variety of GICs are also available options through RBC Direct Investing.)

Since launching in April, here are a few behind-the-scenes numbers about who is opening FHSAs at RBC.

  • Most (56%) RBC FHSAs are held by clients aged 25 to 34, while 20% are aged 35 to 44 and 18% are aged 18 to 24; 6% are aged 45+. This means 74% of folks with a new FHSA account are under 34 years old.

  • More than one-quarter are contributing regularly to their RBC FHSAs using pre-authorized contribution plans (PACs). (Quick shout-out to the power of paying yourself first!)

  • As of June 30, just over 5% of RBC FHSA account holders have already made qualifying tax-free withdrawals for their down payment on a new home purchase. (Exciting, congrats!)

What exactly is an FHSA?

With persistent inflation and ongoing interest-rate uncertainty, buying a first home can feel daunting. The Canadian government developed this new registered account to help first-time homebuyers* make the leap into the housing market. It’s not a silver bullet and it’s not meant to replace other registered investment accounts, but the FHSA can be added to your saving strategy to take advantage of the tax benefits it offers.

The maximum yearly contribution is $8,000 and the lifetime maximum is $40,000, but contribution room only starts to accumulate after you open the account. (And unused room can only be carried over to the next calendar year, not beyond.) If you don’t end up buying a home, it’s still a valuable savings tool because FHSA funds can be transferred tax-free into an RRSP or Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) and it doesn’t affect your contribution limits to those other accounts.

If you’re looking for more detailed info about how this new registered account works, you can check out these 9 Questions Answered About the New First Home Savings Account (FHSA), which also includes a quick video with key points to consider. And here’s a look at how the FHSA compares with the TFSA and RRSP.

If you’re already comfortable with the details and ready to get started, you can open an FHSA here.

* “First-time homebuyer” in this case means you or your spouse or common-law partner did not own a qualifying home that you lived in as your principal place of residence in the year the account is opened or in any of the four preceding calendar years.

This article is intended as general information only and is not to be relied upon as constituting legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. Information presented is believed to be factual and up-to-date but we do not guarantee its accuracy and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the authors as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or any of its affiliates.

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