Conservative Party of Canada
Conservative Party: Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulcair “threaten to take this [TFSA] option away from Canadians.”
By: Jacob Schroeder on
Conservative Party, on an official party webpage
The Conservative Party’s claim that TFSAs are under threat by the NDP and Liberal Party is ambiguously worded. While it is true that both parties pledged to roll back recent increase to contribution limits, they have also committed to keeping the program in place. The vague language used by the Conservatives could easily give the impression their opponents would scrap the whole TFSA.FactsCan Score: Misleading
A Conservative Party webpage asks people to sign up if they want to protect their tax-free savings accounts. According to the page, Justin Trudeau and Tom Mulcair “threaten to take this option away from Canadians.” To check if TFSAs are under threat by Trudeau and Mulcair, we need some background.
The Conservatives introduced TFSAs in 2009, allowing Canadians to save and invest without paying tax on interest or investment income earned in the account. After-tax money goes in, and tax-free money comes out. Previously, Canadians could put away $5,500 per year, with unused amounts rolling over into the next year. In April 2015, the Conservatives announced in the federal budget an increased contribution limit, up to $10,000 per year.
What are the NDP and Liberal positions? When contacted, both parties told us they plan to roll back the recent increases to contribution limits, however, they would keep the original program intact.
How does this jive with the Conservative claim that TFSAs are under threat? This is where things get slightly murky. Previously, we checked an e-mail sent by Conservative Pierre Poilievre claiming the Liberals wanted to “take away Tax-Free Savings Accounts entirely.” We found this false. In the current case however, the wording is ambiguous. The reader doesn’t know if the whole program is under threat, or just the increased limit.
Here’s the claim in context: “Our Conservative government recently increased the TFSA contribution limit, enabling Canadians to save even more each year and see their savings grow, tax-free, more quickly. Seniors, middle-income and low-income Canadian families have benefitted most from the ability to save through TFSAs. For Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair to threaten to take this option away from Canadians is irresponsible and puts Canadians’ future savings at risk.”
We did a non-scientific field experiment and asked some people who are unfamiliar with the topic to read the page and explain what they thought it meant. Some people thought the whole program would be axed, some thought it referred to the recent increase, and some were unsure. When we contacted the Conservative Party for clarification, their response didn’t clear this up. “Opposition parties have vowed repeatedly to take away the now $10,000/yr TFSA,” wrote media spokesperson Chris Day. Different wording, same ambiguity.
While it is true the NDP and Liberals said they will roll back the increased TFSA contribution limit, both parties claim they will keep the original program. Because of the ambiguous wording on the Conservative site, the claim is misleading.