RRSP and Tax Planning Tips

Every year we must file our taxes before the April 30th deadline. Often during this time of year, you will find a lot of articles providing you with tax tips to reduce the amount of tax you pay. This year as we approach the end of tax season, I offer you my tax planning tips.

  1. Investing in registered retirement savings plans. The RRSP is still one of the best tax savings vehicles available to Canadians. The RRSP is a tax deduction where the savings is equally to your personal marginal tax rate.
  2. Watch investment income outside the RRSPs. If you have investments both inside and outside the RRSP, consider tax efficiency of investment income. You should consider putting funds inside that generate interest and other income like GICs, money market funds or bond investments inside your RRSP. In your non-registered portfolio, you should invest in things that have investments that generate tax preferred sources of income like capital gains or dividends.
  3. Pay your RRSP fees from inside your plan. You many want to consider paying an annual administration fee from inside your plan since it is essentially the same thing as a tax-free withdrawal. Annual administration fees are not taxed as income when paid from assets inside the plan.
  4. Make a final RRSP contribution. If you have earned income in the year you are required to convert your RRSP to a RRIF (age 71), you’ll have RRSP contribution room in the next year, but no RRSP. You may want to consider making your next year’s contribution in December, just before your required conversion date. The penalty for the over contribution will only be 1% for the month. However, at January 1, your over contribution disappears, and you’ll get a tax deduction on your next year’s tax return.Remember That With Your Final RRSP Contribution, You Don’t Have a 60-Day Grace Period. You have to make your final RRSP contribution by December 31 of the year you turn 71, and not March 1 of the following year.
  5. Buy spousal RRSPs . Spousal RRSPs allow you to split future retirement income with your spouse. If you will be in a higher tax bracket than your spouse in retirement, consider buying a spousal RRSP by doing this you get the tax deduction, however when the money is taken out, it will be taxed in the hands of your spouse who is in a lower tax bracket.
  6. Contribute to a spousal RRSP after age 71 if you have a younger spouse. Regardless of your age, if you have qualifying earned income or unused RRSP contribution room, you can contribute to a spousal RRSP prior to December 31 of the year your spouse turns 71 and claim the deduction for the contribution on your tax return.
  7. If you no longer need the income and are eligible, you can transfer a RRIF back to an RRSP. If you are not yet 71 and find you don’t need your RRIF income, perhaps because you’ve started receiving a new source of income, you can transfer your RRIF back to an RRSP and tax shelter the capital until you are 71. Keep in mind that the RRIF plan will still pay out the minimum required amount for the year in which the transfer occurs.
  8. Transfer unused tax credits to your spouse. Certain non-refundable tax credits can be transferred to a spouse if the spouse originally eligible for that credit is not taxable or the credits have reduced the amount of tax to zero. By transferring the unused portion of the non-refundable tax credits for the Age amount, Pension Income amount, Disability amount and/or Tuition/Education amounts to a spouse, you can ensure you are taking full advantage of these credits.
  9. Have the lower income spouse claim medical expenses. Not only is it better to have one spouse claim all the medical expenses, but also, it is usually in your best interest to claim the medical expense under the spouse with the lower net income (provided he/she is in a taxable position). The current ruling is that you can claim the portion that exceeds the lesser of $1614 or 3% of the individuals net income.
  10. Claim all charitable donations with one spouse. The credit for charitable donations is a two-tiered federal credit of 16 percent on the first $200 and 29 percent on the balance (plus provincial credits). Spouses are allowed to claim the other’s donations and to carry forward donations for up to five years. By carrying forward donations and then having them all claimed by one spouse, the first $200 threshold with the lower credit is only applied once.

Written by Jim Yih

Jim Yih is a Fee Only Advisor, Best Selling Author, and Financial Speaker on wealth, retirement and personal finance. Currently, Jim specializes in putting Financial Education programs into the workplace.For more information you can follow him on Twitter @JimYih or visit his other websites Group Benefits Online and Advisor Think Box.

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