Although a lot depends on your personal situation, there are a few simple tax principles that apply to most investors and can help you save money.

In this series of tips, we’ll look at the tax benefits of making smart investment decisions, writing off expenses, effectively managing your capital gains and more.

Use RRSPS & TFSAs

This chart shows how much faster weekly $100 contributions made in an RRSP over 40 years grow versus a regular taxable savings account.

Tax savings: The more you make and the more you contribute, the more you’ll save.

Use your RRSP to buy a home

If you and your spouse are first-time buyers, you can both withdraw up to $25,000 each to put toward a down payment—completely tax-free.

 

Save with a spousal RRSP

Have extra RRSP room (and a spouse)? Try setting up a spousal RRSP account and make contributions to it in the name of your lower-earning partner. You’ll get the same advantage as if you were putting income into your own RRSP (a tax refund on contributions), but here’s the kicker: when the money is later withdrawn, it will be taxed in your lower-income spouse’s hands at a lower rate.

Invest in your spouse's name

Want your capital gains to be taxed at the lowest rate possible? Have your lower income earning spouse do all the investing.

Tax savings: Possibly thousands of dollars. Depends on how well your investments do and the difference in your income.

Gifting investments to a spouse

You should think twice about gifting investments to a spouse in a lower tax bracket if he or she plans to sell them. That’s because all interest, dividends and capital gains (or losses) will attributed back to you, even if the sale takes place years later.

Sell off your losses

Having to sell a losing stock or investment property for less than you paid is no fun—but there is a silver lining. That loss, called a capital loss, can be used to offset capital gains you realized on other investments that year.

Tax savings: The amount saved depends on how many stars and dogs there are in your portfolio, but it can be significant.

Invest in your kid's names

Let’s say you give your 5-year-old $100,000 and she uses it to buy shares of a bank stock in her name. By the time she’s 18, those shares could be worth $200,000. She could then cash in $20,000 worth of stock a year, and pay the capital gains taxes on that growth at her own much lower rate.

Retired? Keep using your TFSAs

Unlike RRSPs, you can keep contributing to TFSAs well past 71. And unlike RRIFs, there are no forced annual withdrawals. Each member of a senior couple can invest $5,500 into his or her TFSA annually, meaning the two of you can convert $11,000 worth of RRIF withdrawals and non-registered savings into TFSAs each year.

Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)

For eligible Canadians, money placed in a Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) grows tax-free and can net a staggering 300% return.