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The Great-West Life Assurance Company, London Life Insurance Company and The Canada Life Assurance Company have become one company – The Canada Life Assurance Company. Discover the new Canada Life

The Great-West Life Assurance Company, London Life Insurance Company and The Canada Life Assurance Company have become one company – The Canada Life Assurance Company. Discover the new Canada Life

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Freedom 55 Financial is a division of The Canada Life Assurance Company and the information you requested can be found here.

What you can do with your tax refund

Key takeaways

  • Most people will get their tax refund within 2 to 8 weeks.
  • There are smart ways to use your tax refund to help improve your financial security.

How long it takes to get your tax refund

The method you use to file your tax return will impact how long it will take to get your refundOpens a new website in a new window.

The goal of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is to send your refund within:

  • 2 weeks when you file online
  • 8 weeks when you file a paper return

These timelines are only for returns that the CRA receives on or before their due date.

The CRA may take longer to process your return if your return is selected for a more detailed review.

If you use direct deposit, you could get your refund faster.

Deciding what to do with your tax refund

There’s at least one nice thing about doing your taxes: the possibility of getting a refund. According to Statistics CanadaOpens a new website in a new window and Canada Revenue AgencyOpens a new website in a new window, the Canadian government paid out $37.3 billion in refunds to 17.8 million Canadians from February 10, 2022 to January 28, 2023, for an average return of $2,093.

If you do receive a refund, you need to decide what to do with it. The temptation to spend your refund immediately can be strong. Who doesn’t want a vacation, a new car, or that kitchen renovation you’ve been hoping to start. However, it’s important to consider all your options, such as paying down debt or saving for the future.

Whether you’re beginning your career, starting a family or saving for a down payment on a home, here are some suggestions about smart ways you can put your tax refund to use.

Pay down debt

According to TransunionOpens a new website in a new window, as of the first quarter or 2023, the average Canadian debt load is about $21,183, excluding mortgages. This includes credit card debt, which can carry interest rates nearing 20%. Monthly payments at such high rates can quickly eat a big hole into your budget.

The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) offers advice on how to manage your debt. It recommends paying off higher-interest debt first, such as payday loans and credit cards. This will help lower your interest costs and free up more money to reduce your overall debt.

Once you’ve prioritized your debt, you can develop a strategy for paying it. Mortgages are a common form of debt for many Canadians. The FCAC suggests strategies for paying off your mortgage faster, including a lump-sum payment and raising the amount of your regular payments.

The debate about whether you should invest your money or use it to pay down debt is strong and ongoing. This choice depends heavily on prevailing interest rates, the amount you owe, and your financial situation. Online calculators can be a great resource to help you decide whether paying down your debt is the right choice for you.

Save for retirement

The internet is full of statistics about Canadians not saving enough for retirement. Government programs such as the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security will provide a basic income for many Canadians in retirement, but you need to consider your own retirement wants and needs in deciding how much more savings you need. 

The good news is that the earlier you start saving, the more your money could grow with the benefit of smart investment choices.

registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) is the most well-known retirement savings option in Canada. It allows you to contribute money each year, while avoiding taxes on those contributions until you withdraw it later in life (hopefully at a lower tax rate). In fact, RRSP contributions can help increase the amount of money you receive as a tax refund.

Tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs) are another great option for long-term savings, as any capital gains you accumulate inside a TFSA are not taxable.

Luckily, there is no shortage of options when it comes to saving your money for retirement. Canada Life offers a range of saving and investing solutions, including mutual funds and more comprehensive retirement plans.

Save for other long-term goals

There are several reasons to save beyond the long-term goal of retirement. The FCAC recommends Canadians set up an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses, such as the loss of employment or a medical emergency. An emergency fund can be set up slowly, with small weekly contributions to a dedicated savings account. You can also use part of your tax refund to set up a base from which to build over time.

This process can also be applied to other savings goals, such as a wedding or a down payment on a new home. You can set aside a portion of your tax refund, and then make smaller contributions on a regular basis to meet your goal.

Save for a child's education

If you’re expecting a child, or are the parents of a recent newborn, you’ve probably thought at least in passing about the costs associated with their education. According to StatistaOpens a new website in a new window, the average cost for a year of undergraduate tuition in Canada hit $6,834 in 2022/23. And tuition levels are widely expected to continue rising. Luckily, there are government programs to help you save money for your children, the most well-known is the registered education savings plan (RESP).

You can open an RESP as soon as your baby is born. The earlier you start saving, the more you can potentially grow your money by the time he or she is ready for post-secondary studies. The federal government will contribute up to $500 per year to any deposits you make into an RESP (based on a formula of matching your own contributions to the account at a rate of 20% annually). So, if you’re putting in less than $2,500 each year (about $200 per month) to your child’s RESP you’re missing out on some of those government amounts.

Buy life insurance

If you have young children or are expecting one, you should consider buying life insurance if you haven’t already.

This is important, because you’d want your children to be financially secure if the unthinkable were to happen to yourself or anyone else who is a main caregiver. The 2 most common types of life insurance are term life insurance – a more affordable option that covers you for a specific period, and permanent life insurance – which offers coverage plus the opportunity to accumulate cash value within the policy on a tax-advantaged basis.

What's next?

Now that you know more about how you can use your tax refund, you may choose to meet with an advisor, or if your workplace benefits are with Canada Life, contact a health and wealth consultant to:

  • Discuss strategies to pay down debt.
  • Learn more about saving for your child’s education.
  • Create a plan to save for your retirement.
  • Determine your life insurance needs.

The information provided is based on current laws, regulations and other rules applicable to Canadian residents. It is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the date of publication. Rules and their interpretation may change, affecting the accuracy of the information. The information provided is general in nature and should not be relied upon as a substitute for advice in any specific situation. For specific situations, advice should be obtained from the appropriate legal, accounting, tax or other professional advisors. 

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