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What is an RRSP? Why Does It Matter to You?

Views 4854Apr 29, 2024

A Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) is a tax-advantaged savings account which helps Canadians planing for retirement. It offers individuals the opportunity to contribute a portion of their income and earn tax-deferred investment growth.

What Is a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)?

A Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) is a government-regulated savings account. It allows Canadian residents to contribute a portion of their earned income to save for retirement. Contributions made to an RRSP are tax-deductible, meaning they can be subtracted from the individual's annual taxable income, reducing the amount of income tax owed. The investments within the RRSP can grow on a tax-deferred basis until retirement when withdrawals are made and taxed as income.

RRSP vs. RSP: What's the Differences?

An RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan) is a tax-advantaged account in Canada specifically designed for retirement savings, allowing contributions up to 18% of the prior year's income with a 2023 cap of $30,780. It can be shared with a spouse. Conversely, RSP (Registered Savings Plan) is a broader term that refers to any retirement savings plan, which may include RRSPs or other types such as employer pension plans. While often used interchangeably, it's important to note that all RRSPs are RSPs, but not all RSPs are RRSPs, reflecting the distinction between a specific account type and a general category of retirement savings vehicles.

How RRSP Works?

Contributions: Individuals can contribute up to the annual contribution limit, which is a percentage of their earned income, to their RRSP. The contribution limit is subject to certain rules and can vary from year to year. RRSP contribution limit for 2024 is equal to 18% of your 2023 earned income, or $31,560 (whichever is lower) plus previous unused contribution room less any pension adjustments.

Tax Benefits: Contributions made to an RRSP are tax-deductible, meaning they reduce the individual's taxable income for the year. This results in immediate tax savings, as the contribution amount is not subject to income tax.

Investment Growth: Within the RRSP, investments can grow on a tax-deferred basis. This means that individuals do not have to pay taxes on the investment gains until they make withdrawals during retirement.

Withdrawals: When individuals withdraw funds from their RRSP, the amount is considered taxable income in the year it is withdrawn. It is important to note that early withdrawals may be subject to withholding taxes and may impact future contribution room.

Types of RRSPs

Individual RRSP

Most common type, individuals contribute to their own RRSP.

Spousal RRSP

One partner contributes to the other partner's RRSP, providing income-splitting benefits during retirement.

Group RRSP

Offered by employers, employees can contribute a portion of their salary to a group RRSP.

Pooled RRSP

Pooling of funds from multiple individuals to create a larger investment pool.

RRSP Investment Options

RRSPs offer a wide Pros and Cons of RRSPsange of investment options, providing flexibility to meet individual financial goals. Some common investment options include:

    1. Cash: Holding cash within an RRSP provides stability but typically offers lower returns compared to other investment options.

    2. Mutual Funds: Professionally managed investment funds that pool money from multiple investors to invest in a diversified portfolio of stocks, bonds, or other securities.

    3. Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs): Similar to mutual funds, ETFs are traded on stock exchanges and offer a wide range of investment options, including index tracking funds.

    4. Equities (Stocks): Investing in individual company stocks can provide the potential for high returns but also carries higher risk.

    5. Bonds: Fixed-income securities that provide regular interest payments and lower risk compared to stocks.

    6. Savings Accounts: Offered by financial institutions, savings accounts within an RRSP provide a secure and easily accessible investment option.

    7. Mortgage Loans: Some RRSPs allow individuals to invest in mortgages, providing a fixed income stream through interest payments.

    8. Income Trusts: These investments distribute a significant portion of their earnings to investors in the form of dividends.

    9. Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs): Low-risk investments that offer a fixed rate of return over a specific period.

    10. Foreign Currency: RRSPs can also hold foreign currencies as an investment option.

Pros and Cons of RRSPs


    • Tax Deductions: Contributions to an RRSP can be deducted from taxable income, resulting in immediate tax savings.

    • Tax-Deferred Growth: Investments within an RRSP can grow on a tax-deferred basis, allowing for potential compound growth over time.

    • Retirement Savings: RRSPs provide individuals with a dedicated vehicle to save for retirement and ensure financial security in later years.

    • Spousal Benefits: Spousal RRSPs allow for income splitting during retirement, potentially reducing overall tax liability.

    • Employer Contributions: Group RRSPs often come with employer matching contributions, which can accelerate retirement savings.


    • Contribution Limits: RRSPs have annual contribution limits, and exceeding these limits can result in penalties.

    • Taxation upon Withdrawal: Withdrawals from an RRSP are taxed as income, potentially increasing the tax burden during retirement.

    • Loss of Contribution Room: Withdrawing funds from an RRSP reduces the contribution room for future years.

    • Limited Access: RRSP funds are generally intended for retirement and accessing them before retirement may result in penalties and taxes.

How to Open an RRSP

Step 1: Complete registration using your phone number or email address.

Step 2: Get your residential address and SIN ready!

Step 3: Fill out your personal information and sign using your full name.

Step 4: Submit your application! Account approval usually takes 1-3 business days.

FAQ About RRSP (Registered Retirement Savings Plan)

1. What is the minimum age requirement to be able to make contributions to an RRSP?

With RRSPs, there’s no minimum age. As long as a Canadian has employment income and files a tax return, they (or their guardian) may set up and contribute to an RRSP.

2. When can I withdraw my money from RRSP?

You can start withdrawing funds from your RRSP at any time as long as your funds are not in a locked-in plan, but withdrawals are subject to taxation and may be subject to withholding taxes.

3. When is the RRSP contribution deadline for 2024?

The deadline to contribute for the 2023 tax year is February 29, 2024.

4. Is an RRSP the same as a 401k?

No, RRSP is specific to Canada, while a 401k is a retirement savings plan available to individuals in the United States. However, both plans share similarities in terms of providing tax advantages for retirement savings.

Disclaimer: This content is for informational and educational purposes only and does not constitute a recommendation or endorsement of any specific investment or investment strategy.

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