Skip Header Navigation

Rules & Regulations

It's important to understand the details regarding RRSPs. The rules governing all RRSPs are set out in the Federal Income Tax Act and are administered by Canada Revenue Agency (opens external website in new window). Below we have summarized the key aspects you should know.

Annual Contributions

You may contribute to your RRSP until December 31 of the year in which you reach age 71. The following limits and deadlines apply annually.

Maximum annual RRSP contribution limits

Year Contribution limit
2011 $22,450
2012 $22,970
2013 $23,820
2014 $24,270
2015 $24,930

Your allowable RRSP contribution for the current year is the lower of:

  • 18% of your earned income from the previous year, or
  • The maximum annual contribution limit for the taxation year, or
  • The remaining limit after any company sponsored pension plan contributions.

Earned income includes salary or wages, alimony received, and rental income, among other income sources, but does not include items such as investment income.

You'll find the exact amount you can contribute to your RRSP for the current year on the Notice of Assessment you receive from Canada Revenue Agency after they process your previous year's tax return.

Company Pension Plan or Deferred Profit Sharing Plan - As a member of a company-sponsored registered pension plan or deferred profit sharing plan, the amount that you can contribute to your RRSP must be reduced by the total value of the pension credits you earned for the year.

This amount is referred to as a pension adjustment (PA) and it is reported on the T4 slip (Statement of Remuneration Paid) that you receive from your employer.

Annual Contribution Deadline - To be eligible for an RRSP deduction in a specific taxation year, you can make contributions anytime during the year, or up to 60 days into the following year.

 

Carry-forwards

If you can't make your maximum contribution one year, you can make up that portion of the contribution in later years by carrying it forward. The amount of your unused contribution limit is shown on your federal Notice of Assessment.

You may also choose to delay claiming your current year's RRSP tax deduction. To take the deduction in a later year, you must make sure that your allowable deduction limit has not been reached.

 

Over Contributing to Your Plan

If you make an RRSP contribution beyond your maximum allowable amount for a year it is considered an over-contribution. There is a lifetime allowance of $2,000 for over-contributions. These contributions must be used before any new contributions are applied.

 

Transfers Between RRSPs

You may open as many RRSPs as you wish. You are free to transfer your RRSPs between financial institutions at any time without being subject to tax. You can also move some or all of your money between eligible investments within your RRSP.

 

Withholding Taxes

Funds withdrawn from an RRSP will be charged withholding taxes. This amount must be held back by the plan administrator and remitted to the government on your behalf.

Effective January 1, 2005, the following withholding tax rates apply:

Amount of RRSP Withdrawal All Provinces Except Quebec Quebec
Up to and including $5,000 10% 21%
$5,000.01 to $15,000 20% 26%
More than $15,000 30% 31%

You will receive a T4 RRSP receipt for any funds withdrawn during the year showing the amount to be included in your taxable income and the credit for the withholding tax.

 

Separation or Divorce

During separation or divorce, either you or your spouse can transfer existing RRSPs to the other, without being subject to tax, provided that:

  • You are living apart when property and assets are settled; and
  • You have a written separation agreement or a court order.
 

Death of a Plan Holder

In the event of death, the proceeds of your RRSP are distributed to whoever was named as your beneficiary or to your estate, if no beneficiary has been designated. This designation can be specified in either your RRSP or in your will. Quebec residents must make the designation by will or marriage contract for most plans.

The proceeds of the RRSP will remain tax-sheltered if one of these situations applies:

  • Your surviving spouse is the beneficiary, and the proceeds are transferred into an RRSP or a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) in his/her name;
  • You have no surviving spouse, but you have children or grandchildren who are minors named as your beneficiaries. They are dependent on your estate for financial support and will have the proceeds transferred to a term annuity registered in their names; or
  • Children or grandchildren, regardless of age, who are financially dependent because of physical or mental infirmity. The RRSP proceeds will be transferred to an RRSP or RRIF registered in their names, or used to purchase an annuity.

In all other situations, the balance of the RRSP at the date of death is included as income on the plan holder's final tax return.

 

To Top To Top

 

Take Action