Tax-Free Savings Accounts: Early Consumer Experiences


Barrett Consulting, Ken Whitehurst


Consumers Council of Canada (CCC)




This research report for the Consumer Council of Canada provides an investigation and evaluation of the early patterns of TFSA usage among Canadian consumers. It examines all of the factors that brought the TFSA from the mouth of the Finance Minister to the hands of consumers: the role of intermediaries in designing and building the products, how the economic backdrop changed after the budget announcement and how those factors affected consumer attitudes.

While the ultimate goal of the research was to enhance the ability of consumers to make an informed decision, the report found factors that drive that decision touch on many other issues: costs, benefits, competitive products, savings alternatives, knowledge, rule changes, investor behaviour and public policy.

A second goal was to identify what consumers, government and financial service intermediaries can do to improve consumer experiences. In showing how consumers view the TFSA and have used it, the report also examines whether those behaviours have been consistent with the stated goals of the government when the TFSA was introduced.

This project involved four key research components, culminating in this report:

• A Literature Review and On-Line Research
• Key Informant Interviews and Discussions
• Syndicated Research
• A National Omnibus Survey

This report sought to raise awareness of the issues that TFSA consumers have faced, and contribute to an understanding of what consumers, government, and financial service intermediaries can do to improve consumer experiences with the TFSA. Accordingly, the final section of this report provides constructive criticism about how the TFSA can be improved. These recommendations are divided into three sections, representing the three involved parties: governments that created and defined the TFSA, intermediaries who built products around those rules, and those who consumed those products.

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OCA Funded Research
This research received funding support through the Office of Consumer Affairs' Contributions Program.

Contact information

Consumers Council of Canada
201-1920 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON  M4S 3E2
(416) 483-2696

Source: Consumer Policy Research Database

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