RRSPs at a Glance
For Print Only Logo
Insights and Market Perspectives

RRSPs at a Glance

Author: Sound Choices

January 12, 2018

The content in the below article is meant for Canadian investors only.


An RRSP can be a tax-efficient way to build your retirement savings.

A Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) is a plan that allows you to save money on a tax-deferred basis until you retire. Contributing every year can be a tax-efficient way to build your retirement savings.

Who can invest in an RRSP?

Anyone who has earned income in the previous year and filed a Canadian tax return can contribute to an RRSP up until December 31 of the year they turn 71.

How do contributions work?

The total amount you can contribute is determined by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) each year and is a percentage of earnings, minus any pension adjustments, plus unused contribution room from previous years.

Your pension adjustment amount is the value of any pension benefits you get from a registered plan or deferred profit-sharing plan. Your unused contribution room is the amount that wasn’t used in prior tax years, as determined by the CRA.

The maximum contribution amount may change, so check the Notice of Assessment you received from the CRA after filing your taxes. It will show your current RRSP contribution limit plus any unused room and pension adjustments. You can also visit the CRA website.

Be careful not to over-contribute. There’s a $2,000 lifetime over-contribution limit. Beyond that, you’ll pay a penalty tax of 1% per month on any over-contributions until you withdraw them from the plan.

What are the tax advantages?

RRSPs have various tax advantages compared to investing outside of a registered account. Within an RRSP, you do not have to pay tax on any income or growth that you earn. You only pay tax when you withdraw funds from your RRSP, which is hopefully when you are retired and potentially in a lower tax bracket.

You also get immediate tax savings, because you can deduct the amount of your RRSP contributions from your income on your tax return.

Viewed another way, the actual cost of your contribution is reduced because of lower taxes. The table below shows the impact a $5,000 RRSP contribution would have at different marginal tax rates.

 Marginal tax rate* 32% 39% 46%
 RRSP contribution $5,000 $5,000 $5,000
 Reduced taxes $1,600 $1,950 $2,300
 Actual cost of contribution $3,400 $3,050 $2,700
*Source: Canada Revenue Agency. This is a hypothetical example to be used for illustrative purposes only.

You can make contributions to your RRSP throughout the year. Contributions made in the first two months of the year may be applied against either the earned income of the previous year or the current year. Contributions made between March and December are used to reduce taxable income in the year in which the contribution was made.

Why start now?

When you turn 65, you’ll receive modest pension benefits from the government, but for many Canadians, it’s not enough. According to Service Canada, the average combined Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security benefit was just over $1,250 per person per month as of 2017. If that doesn’t sound like enough to cover your post-retirement needs, consider opening an RRSP and contributing regularly.

To learn more about the RRSP options available to you, visit AGF.com/RRSP.

The contents of this Web site are provided for informational and educational purposes, and are not intended to provide specific individual advice including, without limitation, investment, financial, legal, accounting or tax. Please consult with your own professional advisor on your particular circumstances.

About AGF Management Limited

Founded in 1957, AGF Management Limited (AGF) is an independent and globally diverse asset management firm. AGF brings a disciplined approach to delivering excellence in investment management through its fundamental, quantitative, alternative and high-net-worth businesses focused on providing an exceptional client experience. AGF’s suite of investment solutions extends globally to a wide range of clients, from financial advisors and individual investors to institutional investors including pension plans, corporate plans, sovereign wealth funds and endowments and foundations.

For further information, please visit AGF.com.

© 2018 AGF Management Limited. All rights reserved.

More articles like this.

2018 year-end financial checklist

2018 year-end financial checklist

Add these items to your December to-do list to make sure you’re set up for 2019.

Read More
5 Ways to Manage Holiday Spending

5 Ways to Manage Holiday Spending

Here are five tips to help you spend reasonably for the rest of the holiday season so you don’t have regrets – or large amounts of long-term debt – in the new year.

Read More
5 reasons to reconsider emerging markets

5 reasons to reconsider emerging markets

What are the emerging markets and how are they driving the global economy?

Read More