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Nearly half of Canadians have TFSAs, but are they using them?

A poll from CIBC, released Monday, found that 47 per cent of respondents say they've set up a TFSA, but only half of the respondents with a TFSA account have made a contribution this year.

The tax-free accounts have existed for nearly five years, though numerous polls have found that Canadians didn't necessarily understand how they work or simply had decided not to open one.

The poll, conducted by Harris-Decima for CIBC, found that 41 per cent of Canadians with a TFSA say they don't have any immediate plans for the money they've set aside, but that they just wanted to avoid paying tax on the interest.

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About 36 per cent of respondents say they plan to use the money to retire, while another 30 per cent say they've saving it for an emergency.

"You will get more out of your TFSA if you have a plan for the funds you invest in it," said Colette Delaney, executive vice president of retail and business banking at CIBC. "These poll results suggest that some Canadians may not see the full potential of their TFSA, such as using it as part of their retirement strategy."

By region, residents of British Columbia were most likely to have a TFSA  - 52 per cent, while Atlantic Canadians were least likely at 42 per cent.

The Harris-Decima telephone poll of 2,031 Canadians was conducted between July 5 and 15 with a margin of error of 2.2 per cent, considered accurate 19 times out of 20.

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