Have you guys heard of the Smith Manoeuvre (SM)? For those who don’t know what it is, it’s a Canadian wealth strategy to structure your mortgage so that it’s tax deductible. Our U.S. neighbors already get the luxury of claiming their mortgage interest and now there is a way for us Canadians to do the same.

There’s a tax rule in Canada where if you borrow money to invest in an income producing investment (like a dividend paying stock or investment property), you can deduct the annual interest paid on the investment loan from your income tax. Kinda wordy I know, in layman’s terms, if you get a loan with x amount of interest / year, you can claim that x interest during income tax season if you use the loan towards stocks or rental properties. If you’re still confused, please read on below where I will eventually explain everything step by step.

So, who came up with this idea and how does this apply to making a mortgage tax deductible? Mr. Fraser Smith has all the answers and he has written a book on the topic which explains how to do this properly. To summarize the Smith Manoeuvre in a nutshell, it’s where you borrow against the equity in your home, invest it in income producing entities, and use the tax return to further pay down the mortgage. Repeat until your mortgage is completely paid off leaving you with a large portfolio and an investment loan. Voila! Your mortgage is now an investment loan which is tax deductible and hopefully, your portfolio is larger than your loan.

While I have a tendency to optimize, here is a is a slightly modified version of the Smith Manoeuvre (SM):

1. Sell all existing stock from non-registered investment accounts and use it towards a down payment for step 2.

2. Obtain a readvanceable mortgage. This is a mortgage that has 2 entities, the home equity line of credit (HELOC) and the regular mortgage. Nothing unique about this setup EXCEPT that as you pay down the mortgage, the credit limit on the HELOC increases. This is a key feature that is needed when implementing the SM. Note that you usually require at least 25% 20% equity/down payment before you can obtain a readvanceable mortgage. Some financial institutions that offer these mortgages are:

  • RBC – The Homeline Mortgage
  • Firstline – The Matrix Mortgage
  • Manulife – ManulifeONE Mortgage (read my Manulife One Review)
  • BMO – Readiline Mortgage (this is the SM mortgage that I have, email me if you want a referral)
  • For a complete list, check out The Smith Manouevre Resource. Included within the post are mortgage reviews, calculators, taxation issues and strategies related to the SM.

3. Use the HELOC portion of your mortgage to invest in income producing entities like dividend paying stocks or rental property. With every mortgage payment, your HELOC limit will increase. So with every regular mortgage payment, you will invest the new money in your HELOC. Note that you SHOULD NOT use the HELOC money to invest in your RRSP as you will lose the tax deduction on the invested money.  If you don’t already have an investment account, here is a review of the more popular discount brokerages available in Canada.

4. When tax season hits, deduct the annual amount of interest that you paid on your HELOC against your income. So, if you paid $6,000 in interest payments for the year and you have marginal tax rate of 40%, you will get back ~$2,400 of it.

5. Apply the tax return and investment income (dividends etc) against your non-deductible mortgage and invest the new money that’s now in your HELOC.

6. Repeat steps 3-5 until your non-deductible mortgage is paid off.

As you can see, this process will pay down your regular mortgage in a hurry.

The Advantages:

  • You get to build a large investment portfolio without waiting to pay off your mortgage first (the power of compounding).
  • You get to pay down your non-deductible mortgage in a hurry.
  • Your new investment loan is tax deductible.

The Downside:

  • You need to be comfortable with LEVERAGE and investing in general.
  • You need a plan ‘B’ in the case that you need to move and home values have gone down. If you invested properly, your portfolio should at LEAST cover your loan.
  • Your mortgage is NEVER paid off where you keep the tax-deductible loan (this can be a good thing).

In part 2 of this series, I will talk more about general questions regarding the Smith Manoeuvre. Like, making the extra HELOC interest payment IN ADDITION TO the regular mortgage, different investment options, and ways to optimize the SM even further.

Update May 2013 – Big mortgage rule changes!  The mortgage rules have changed where nationally regulated banks can only allow home owners to borrow up to 65% of their equity towards their “revolving” or home equity line of credit portion (only applies to new applicants – I believe existing HELOCs are grandfathered).  However, homeowners can still borrow up to 80% of their equity in total.  This means that the remaining 15% (80% – 65%) has to be in the form of an installment mortgage with a regular repayment schedule. Best to talk to a mortgage broker about how it affects you, let me know if you need a recommendation.

Continue to The Smith Manoeuvre – A Wealth Strategy (Part 2).


  1. Ed Rempel on May 17, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    Hi fs,

    To contact me, click on my name to go to our web site. The best first step is usually to register for one of our educational webinars.


    • fs on May 28, 2015 at 8:36 am


      Done, thanks again!


  2. SC on May 27, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    Quick question. I have heard a few people lately talking about this.

    If you refinance your mortgage and invest the money you get from this are the mortgage interest payments on the amount invested tax deductible?


    I have a $1mill home and currently $500k left on my mortgage. I Re-Fi back up to $800k and invest the $300k I get in an unregistered account. Is 37.5% (300/800) of my mortgage interest payments now tax deductible?



  3. Ed Rempel on June 13, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    Hi SC,

    Yes, 3/8 of your mortgage should be tax deductible. It is better to split your mortgage into 2 and have a $500K and a $300K mortgage. Then you can track the $300K separately.

    There are 2 big advantages to splitting your mortgage:

    1. You can track it, which is important if you are ever audited by CRA.
    2. You can then pay down your non-deductible $500K mortgage quickly, while paying down the tax deductible $300K mortgage slowly to keep the tax deduction.


  4. RevShark on August 15, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    Hey FT,

    Do you have a spreadsheet that works for the latest version of Microsoft word? I just bought my first home and was able to get all things setup for the SM with 20% down and accelerated payments etc… Also, do you have any tips beyond what you have posted here? Thanks for this great site and best wishes for your future 60k a year passive income.


    • FrugalTrader on August 16, 2015 at 1:04 pm

      @RevShark, Thanks for the kind feedback. What error message are you getting?

      In terms of the SM, my advice would be to be aware of your risk tolerance. The normal gyrations of the market are enough to make a seasoned investor uneasy, but add leverage on top, and it’s a recipe for high stress investing for some. Just be ready for those ups and downs and keep your focus on the long term.

      • RevShark on August 16, 2015 at 11:42 pm

        Hey Frugal,

        Thanks for the quick response. I am getting #Value! in the yellow fields of your V2 spreadsheet. I have a huge time horizon as I am just newly graduated from Uni and have 40 plus years to be a working stiff. Thanks again for this great blog with a treasure trove of articles and comments.

  5. Trent on December 17, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    Question, I have more than enough invested assesses in my investment cash account to buy a house but want to know if I should sell enough stock to buy the house in full so I don’t have a mortgage and than get a secured loan against the house to replace the investment money. I know it would still be tax deductible (interest on the loan that is) But the big question is should I pay for the house in full so there is no mortgage?? Is this still the “smith Manoeuvre”?

    • FrugalTrader on December 18, 2015 at 9:11 am

      Hi Trent, this is a strategy that will basically give you a tax deductible mortgage. However, you need to be willing to take the risk of leveraged investing. As well, the psychological impact of taking on debt.

  6. Laurencius on February 18, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    Question, I have a paid off home and by accident I become a landlord of this home, I bought a condo to use as my principal home and I took RBC homeline mortgage to pay off my condo and rent the first home, is the interest still tax deductible? Thanks

    • FrugalTrader on February 18, 2016 at 8:04 pm

      Technically, since you borrowed to buy a principal residence, the interest is not tax deductible. However, if you moved back in your old home and rented out your condo, it would be eligible.

  7. Murph on May 30, 2016 at 11:42 pm

    Hello FT and Ed,
    I keep reading all the posts on the SM, and would like to implement it. I also noticed in the posts about Cash damming. I look it up further and noticed it works well to use with Reantal properties… something I eventually would like to get into.
    After reading a bit Re: Fraser Smith, the cash damming would apply to any personal business. Hypothetically, If you install a SOLAR PANEL MicroFit System (in Ontario), this in essence becomes an income stream as you are a power generating station (not sure if it is a “business”, although should be treated as such). If this could qualify, could you borrow a loan to install the MicroFit system and them use the SM & Cash dam method to invest in the business to pay down that loan?
    It would probably pay it down faster than the advertised “get your investment back between 5 – 9 years”.
    That being said, I don’t have numbers to support what a 10kW system cost to install on a roof.
    Any thoughts? Thanks,


  8. Murph on May 30, 2016 at 11:47 pm

    From time to time, you mention that people should do the SM, IF it is right for you.
    What types of conditions would “disqualify” someone from doing the SM?


  9. Ed Rempel on June 5, 2016 at 8:48 pm

    Hi Murph,

    Yes, you can do the Cash Dam with the Microfit program. You record it as a business on your personal tax return.

    You would borrow the original purchase amount. There are hardly any expenses for the Cash Dam other than interest. You can capitalize the interest and use any income or savings in electricity to pay down your onto your mortgage.

    You asked paying the loan down more quickly with the SM or Cash Dam. Usually with the Cash Dam, the goal is to capitalize the interest accumulate a growing tax deductible credit line, while using any extra cash to pay down your mortgage.

    You could create a separate mortgage out of the Microfit loan and the the Smith Manoeuvre on that loan, which should reduce the amortization by 2-3 years.


  10. Bernard Davis on July 13, 2016 at 11:56 am

    * Are there any age restrictions on the Smith Manoeuvre?

    • FrugalTrader on July 13, 2016 at 12:04 pm

      Interesting question! I don’t know the exact answer, but you need to be old enough to hold a mortgage, and old enough to open a discount brokerage account.

  11. Tom on October 4, 2016 at 7:49 am

    Good day, FrugalTrader. I’m hoping you can provide some insight into my question.

    I’m in the midst of implementing the Singleton Shuffle (i.e. I have sold off all my non-reg investments with the intent to pay down a portion of my mortgage and borrow back the principle).

    One question has been nagging me that I hope you can answer. I have made it a rule in the past that I will not invest in any stock unless I have a minimum of $1,000.00 cash in my investment account, in an effort to avoid paying too many commission fees (i.e. $9.95 per transaction, which works out to 1% of my total $1,000.00 purchase). I pay down my mortgage on a bi-weekly basis, and currently (including an additional $100.00 double-down), I am paying about $435.00 in principle each payment. If I adhere to my rule, that would mean I would need to wait until three (3) mortgage payments are made before I can invest in anything (i.e. $435 * 3 = $1,305.00.) Would there be an issue if the transferred principle amount (from HELOC to non-reg account after each mortgage payment) sits there for up to 6 weeks before I use it for investing? Or should I be buying equities with each transfer?

    Looking forward to your expert feedback.

    • FrugalTrader on October 4, 2016 at 8:17 am

      I don’t suspect that 6 weeks is a problem before you invest. Providing that you have the intention to invest the cash go for it. Soon it will be difficult to track whether the cash comes from dividends, capital gains or deposits anyways.

    • Nikolai on October 4, 2016 at 10:42 am

      Well…depending on how lenient do you expect CRA to be. Strictly speaking, if the money is not invested into something income-generating you cannot write off the interest. So the safest bet would be not to take the money from HELOC until you are ready to place them into something eligible. However, I can see at least 3 solutions to this:

      – you can use the margin on your account. By the way, you will never be able to buy something for exactly 3 x $435. So, disconnect these things mentally – the mortgage, the HELOC and your margin account. When you see an opportunity in the market – you buy the stock using the margin. Target the approximate amount you intend to withdraw from the HELOC in the future. And then simply take the money from HELOC to pay off the negative cash balance on your margin account. BTW, you may be surprised that the margin rates are sometimes lower than HELOC rates :) And, I believe (although I am not a tax advisor!) that the interest paid on the margin account would be just as deductible as HELOC one, since the law does not specify how you are supposed to borrow. As long as it is used only to buy the eligible investments, of course.
      – If you are paying 9.95 per trade, it means most likely that your broker is one of the banks. They all have money market mutual funds or other kind of fixed-income ones. They are commission-free. So you can use them as buffer before you are ready to move with a stock. Just make sure you respect the minimal period if applicable.
      – switch to another broker that charges less outrageous commissions ;)

  12. KEYZD on December 18, 2016 at 12:42 am

    Hi Guys, Thanks for all of your insights.
    Should one not make sure their TFSA and RRSP limits are maxed before considering the SM strategy?
    That way you can still use the leverage strategy but with a much greater tax advantage (30-40% of income) than the SM offers (3%).

    Am I correct in saying that and should that perhaps be a qualifying question before starting the SM?
    Thanks again!

    • FT on December 18, 2016 at 12:29 pm

      Some would recommend to leverage right away, but personally, I like the idea of maxing out non-taxable accounts before using taxable accounts.

  13. Ed Rempel on December 22, 2016 at 2:03 am

    Hi KeyZD,

    Great question! TFSA vs. RRSP vs. Smith Manoeuvre. Which is best for long term growth?

    Lots of articles on TFSA vs. RRSP. It’s good to also add SM.

    You can borrow your equity and invest in any of the 3.

    I have looked at this a lot, with any clients in this situation. The answer comes down to tax brackets.

    If you are in a higher tax bracket today than you will be after you retire, then RRSP has the advantage of a 10% or 20% tax gain on the full amount.

    If you will retire in a similar or higher tax bracket (perhaps because clawbacks on government pensions may affect you after you retire), then RRSP has a disadvantage.

    Retirees usually have a lot of flexibility in planning how much of their retirement income will be taxable, so RRSP often has the edge.

    Comparing TFSA vs. Smith Manoeuvre comes down to tax-efficiency of your investments. The Smith Manoeuvre creates tax refunds on the interest, but then results in some tax on the investments.

    If you invest tax-efficiently, so that there is little or no taxable income over the years (until you eventually sell), then Smith Manoeuvre is better. Tax-efficient strategies could include investing in corporate class mutual funds or buy-and-hold strategies.

    However, if you generate more taxable income, then TFSA would be better, because there is a “tax drag” on the Smith Manoeuvre non-registered investments. Dividend investing creates higher taxable income, as does more frequent trading producing capital gains .

    To do this properly, you need a good retirement plan, so that you know your tax bracket after you retire.

    The general answer for most people is to contribute enough RRSP to get to the bottom of your current bracket, and then put the rest into Smith Manoeuvre or TFSA (depending on how tax-efficiently you invest).


  14. joanne on February 13, 2017 at 2:44 pm


    We are 53 years old and have a combined net income after taxes of apx 150K
    250K in RRSPs
    150k in Work RRSPs
    Basement suite brings in $900 a month but that pays our property tax of $800 a month! We are in North Van- so expensive!
    We have a 440K mortgage – we renewed it back to 25 years- Silly! More interest again!
    Our home is worth $1.8M. Recently assesed at $2M but I wanted to be conservative
    We have a home credit line of $500K – 49k used to purchase a libiltiy sailboat ( silly again!) We are selling after this summer.
    We want to retire at 62.
    Should we use the Line of credit to invest? OR how can we pay off our mortgage quicker- like in 5 years while at the same time investing in something so we have 2.5M in bank to live off the the 4% income “thingy”
    We so appreciate you guidance and know it is just ideas- we do not hold anybody accountable- just need feedback and options.
    We want to travel and yet still hold on to our home as well.

    Thank you everyone!!

  15. Ed Rempel on March 1, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    Hi Jo,

    That is a big question. There are a lot of issues. You really need to have a financial plan to figure out exactly what you should do.

    Your $400K in investments likely is not nearly enough for you to retire on in 9 years. Let’s assume it doubles by then and you withdraw 4%, that’s only $32,000/year in future dollars, which buys about the same as $25,000 today. Add your rent income and pensions. That is probably not enough for you, especially if you want to travel after you retire.

    In theory, you could borrow over $1 million to invest doing the Smith Manoeuvre on your home. Is that a good idea for you?

    The Smith Manoeuvre is a borrowing to invest, which is both a risky strategy and the best wealth-building strategy. You need to balance your risk tolerance with the money you need for your retirment goal and decide together what makes sense for you. It is both the best and worst strategy, depending on how you use it.

    For example, let’s say you borrow $1 million to invest against your home. Then we have a big market crash and the invesments drop to $700,000. What would you do?

    If the answer is to sell or convert to more conservative investments to “stop the bleeding”, then the Smith Manoeuvre is a bad idea for you (at least to that size).

    If you would stay invested and possibly even take advantage of the buying opportunity, then maybe it is a great strategy for you.

    Historically, the stock markets have recovered from every decline and have been the best long-term growth investment. The worst 25-year period of the S&P500 in the last 80 years was a gain of 8%/year. Stock markets are volatile short and medium term, but provide reliable growth long term.

    A financial plan will help you you determine the retirement lifestyle you want, how big a portfolio you need for that, and figure out how to get there.

    You probably need to invest a lot, but also have competing lifestyle expenses and decisions about paying down the mortgage vs investing for retirement. RRSPs can provide a good tax advantage if you are in a higher tax bracket today than after you retire. You could keep the mortgage at a low rate and low payment, so that you have more money to invest. You could do the Smith Manoeuvre, which means paying down your mortgage faster also gives you more to invest.

    Optimizing all this requires a plan.


    P.S. I did extensive research on 150 years of stock, bond and inflation history to determine if the “4% Rule” is reliable, how to make it reliable and what options there are. I will have the results in an article on my blog shortly.

  16. Passivecanadianincome on March 12, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    Great article. Does this only work for stocks and rentals? I’m looking into investing in a ccpc offering a great yield. by refinancing our house

  17. LoveLea on October 6, 2018 at 2:54 pm

    Hi there!
    I see these comments were made years ago.
    I am a Newbie!
    Here is my situation I have a Powerline Mortgage with CIBC
    $113,000 Mortgage at 2.29% and an available HELOC of $47,000 at 4.2%
    I was wanting to pay off my Mortgage quickly. Can I use my HELOC to pay off my Mortgage faster it started as a 30 year AMT. I live in it now… do I have to rent it out to be able to use the Tax write off or should I get a roommate? Are there any investments out there that you can make more than 4.2%? I am a 47-year-old single with no outside investments please help. Oh plus my stable income is $2,000 / month before taxes but sometimes make other money if I get commisions from doing Real Estate Thanks so much!

    • FT on October 8, 2018 at 8:59 pm

      Hi LoveLea, the only way to get a tax deduction on your HELOC is if you invest the proceeds in assets that have the potential for gain. If you rent out a portion of your home, then you can deduct a portion of your 2.29% mortgage. If you invest in the stock market over the long term (20+ years), you should be able to come ahead if you invest your HELOC. Check out some index investing options: https://milliondollarjourney.com/top-6-indexing-options-for-your-portfolio.htm

      • Love Lea on October 16, 2018 at 7:05 pm

        Thanks so much!!!
        I am trying to get educated on the Markets etc
        looks like scary times in the Stock Markets!
        What to do? Where is it safe? lol
        I will check out the link =) YAY! Hugs!

      • FT on October 17, 2018 at 9:42 am

        Happy to help. Try to figure out your tolerance for big swings in the market (volatility), then judge your asset allocation from there. This article may help: https://milliondollarjourney.com/how-and-why-asset-allocation-works.htm

  18. JohnR on October 10, 2018 at 10:26 am

    FT on you immediate last post, I believe CRA allow only the interest deduction when the investment produces or has the potential to produce income – as in rental income or dividends.

    a qualifying investment that is simply capital gain likely does not qualify

    from the CRA, line 221 ‘carrying charges’


    bullet point 4 in the linked page
    “most interest you pay on money you borrow for investment purposes, but generally only if you use it to try to earn investment income, including interest and dividends. However, if the only earnings your investment can produce are capital gains, you cannot claim the interest you paid. For more information, contact the CRA”

    • FT on October 23, 2018 at 2:21 pm

      Good point John, it does need to have the “potential” to produce income which includes equities that don’t currently pay a dividend but have the “potential” to issue dividends.

  19. Wesley on January 25, 2019 at 5:34 pm

    I have a question about dividends and DRIPS inside of a SM portfolio. If a stock or ETF pays a dividend and the company or fund automatically re-invests for you (Buys backs shares in itself). Do you have to declare this as income on your tax return every year or can you just let it carry over?



    • Wesley on April 10, 2019 at 11:15 pm

      Can anyone answer this question for me??

    • Ed on April 11, 2019 at 2:22 am


      Yes. You have to include on your tax return all dividends you receive. Whether or not they are reinvested is not relevant.


  20. Rajesh Patel on April 8, 2019 at 9:28 pm


    I am trying to understand the Smith Manoeuvre concept, and as a part of that trying to validate if the Tax saving will outweigh the higher interest rate. Today I pay Prime -1 (2.95%) for my mortgage. I called up my bank – and understand that the rate for the HELOC would be P+1 (4.95%). So the interest rate on HELOC is 2% higher – I am wondering if there is a better way of doing it – or am I missing something? I apologize in advance if you have already covered this somewhere.

    • FT on April 9, 2019 at 9:13 am

      Hi Rajesh, estimating that you pay 40%, you’ll pay an after-tax interest rate of 2.97% (at current rates). You’ll need to decide for yourself whether or not long-term market results will beat that rate. Might want to focus on maximizing your tax-sheltered accounts before jumping into the leveraged non-registered route.

      • Rajesh Patel on April 9, 2019 at 6:17 pm

        Thank you – really appreciate your advice.

  21. Chris on April 13, 2019 at 10:28 am

    Hi FT, I started exactly this strategy (based on your excellent explanations) to help pay down my personal mortgage a couple of years ago. I have a two rental properties and I use the HELOC to pay my regular bills: taxes, electricity, minor repairs etc. With the revenue from my buildings I use some of it to pay down my home mortgage over and above my normal payments. I’m limited to 15% of the original mortgage amount per year, but using the HELOC and some agressive saving, I’ve managed to reduce my mortgage by 120k in 2 years. I also maxed out my weekly payments to speed things up. I should be mortgage free in the next 2 years (7 years before retirement) and have a HELOC debt equivalent to less than 50% of the debt I paid down. Then I will renegotiate the HELOC with whoever has my remaining rental property mortgages to minimise further my HELOC interest. The HELOC works for me because I pay lots of tax here in Quebec, so I can claim back quite a bit of the interest paid, making the difference in rates (mortgage/HELOC) still beneficial – at the moment. I keep my eyes on rate movements though, and the HELOC will probably become less interesting when I retire.

    • FT on April 14, 2019 at 10:32 am

      Congrats on the financial success Chris! An inspiring story of the success someone can have with leveraged investing when they have the discpline and long term vision.

  22. Chirag patel on July 5, 2019 at 7:42 pm

    Can you use a traditional mortgage to invest in stocks instead of the HELOC route? I have a home paid in full. Mortgage rates are below 3 pct right now – better than HELOC rates. I also like the idea of paying back principal each month. But, I want to know if the interest portion would be tax deductible by CRA. Thx.

    • FT on July 7, 2019 at 10:37 am

      Hi Chirag, if you remortgage your house and use the proceeds to invest in equities, then the interest would be tax deductible. However, careful to show a clear paper trail to show the proceeds going towards investments.

  23. Chirag on August 9, 2019 at 11:08 pm

    Can you deposit your HELOC funds into a margin account and leverage up even more? So for example, borrow $500k from HELOC, deposit into margin account and borrow $1m against that? All of the interest would be deductible. I know, probably not a smart idea! But is it illegal? Might be useful in a market meltdown situation and taking advantage of that.

    • FT on August 11, 2019 at 8:51 pm

      Hi Chirag, Yes you can do that, but you would need super high risk tolerance to sit through market volatility. There is also the added risk of margin-calls in the case that you are invested and the market corrects. If you are to pursue this strategy, I would suggest only using a small portion of your margin available.

  24. Calvin W. on January 13, 2020 at 12:58 pm

    I still need to get pass the concept: for example I have on hand cash of 100k from my salary and rental income. If I pay it into my principal residence mortgage and reborrow the entire 100k to invest, yes the interests are deductible, however it didn’t reduce the principle amount as it just gets in and out, unless you delay the investment to benefit from the time difference between in and out. The other benefit I can think of is the interests deduction can lower my income for tax return.
    Anyone please advise if my understanding is correct?

    • FT on January 20, 2020 at 12:00 pm

      Calvin, the goal is to build a long term portfolio by using the equity in your house. You would need a readvancable mortgage that would increase your credit limit as you pay down your house. If you already have enough equity to obtain a readvancable mortgage, then there is no need for you to use your $100k cash. You could build two portfolios, one with your $100k cash, and the other with your home equity. But note, when you use your home equity, it’s leveraged investing which comes with leveraged returns but also leveraged risk!

  25. The Rich Dog on January 17, 2020 at 12:45 pm

    Would you withdraw your TFSA to put in the equity of the house?

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