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Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)

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A Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) is a retirement savings and investment vehicle for Canadian residents. It offers various tax advantages designed to help you save for retirement. Here's a detailed look at what an RRSP is, how it works, and its benefits.

What is an RRSP?

Tax-Deferred Growth

Contributions to an RRSP are tax-deferred, meaning you don't pay taxes on the money until you withdraw it.

Contribution Limits

The annual contribution limit is 18% of your previous year's earned income, up to a maximum amount set by the government each year.

Investment Options

You can invest in a variety of options, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, GICs, and ETFs.

Benefits of an RRSP

  • Tax Deductions: Contributions reduce your taxable income for the year, potentially lowering your tax bracket.
  • Compound Growth: Investment earnings grow tax-free until withdrawal, allowing for compound interest over time.
  • Spousal Contributions: You can contribute to a spousal RRSP to split retirement income and potentially lower overall taxes.
  • Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP): First-time homebuyers can withdraw up to $35,000 tax-free for a home purchase.
  • Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP): You can withdraw up to $10,000 per year (up to a total of $20,000) to finance full-time education or training.

How to Open an RRSP

  • Choose a Provider: Banks, credit unions, investment firms, and online brokers offer RRSP accounts.
  • Select Investments: Decide where to invest your contributions based on your risk tolerance and financial goals.
  • Contribute Regularly: Set up automatic contributions to maximize the benefits of compound growth.

Withdrawal Rules

  • Taxable Income: Withdrawals are added to your income for the year and taxed at your marginal rate.
  • Early Withdrawal Penalties: Withdrawing before retirement age can result in higher taxes and penalties.
  • Retirement Income: Convert your RRSP to a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) by the end of the year you turn 71 to begin drawing income.


  • Tax Treatment: RRSP contributions are tax-deductible, while Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) contributions are not. However, TFSA withdrawals are tax-free.
  • Withdrawal Flexibility: TFSAs offer more flexibility for withdrawals without penalties or taxes.
  • Purpose: RRSPs are primarily for retirement savings, while TFSAs can be used for any savings goal.


An RRSP is a powerful tool for retirement savings in Canada, offering tax benefits and flexibility to help you achieve your retirement goals. Understanding how to maximize its benefits can lead to a more secure financial future. Always consider speaking with a financial advisor to tailor your RRSP strategy to your personal needs and circumstances.


Still not sure what to do? Here is a list of our FAQ's; click the question to unveil the answer

What happens if I exceed my RRSP contribution limit?


If you over-contribute to your RRSP by more than $2,000, you will be subject to a penalty of 1% per month on the excess amount until it is withdrawn or the contribution limit is corrected.

Can I have more than one RRSP account?


Yes, you can open multiple RRSP accounts, but your total contributions to all accounts must not exceed your annual contribution limit.

When should I start withdrawing from my RRSP?


You must convert your RRSP to a RRIF or an annuity by December 31 of the year you turn 71. You can start withdrawing earlier, but remember that withdrawals are added to your taxable income for the year.

Are RRSP withdrawals always taxed?


Yes, RRSP withdrawals are considered taxable income and are taxed at your marginal tax rate at the time of withdrawal. However, withdrawals under the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP) and Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) are exceptions if repaid within the specified time frames.

Can I transfer my RRSP to another institution?


Yes, you can transfer your RRSP from one financial institution to another without incurring taxes, provided the transfer is done directly between institutions.

What is the deadline for RRSP contributions?


The contribution deadline for a given tax year is 60 days into the following year. For example, for the 2023 tax year, the deadline would typically be March 1, 2024.

Can non-residents contribute to an RRSP?


Non-residents can contribute to an RRSP if they have earned income that is subject to Canadian tax, but they won't receive the same tax benefits. Contributions made while a non-resident are not deductible against Canadian income.

How do spousal RRSPs work?


A spousal RRSP allows one spouse to contribute to an RRSP in the other spouse's name. This can be beneficial for income splitting during retirement, potentially lowering the overall tax burden.