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Definition of RRSP

RRSP Image 1

RRSP

Registered Retirement Savings Plan - A plan enabling Canadian citizens to establish tax-sheltered accounts to accumulate money towards retirement.



Related Terms:

Back To Back Annuity

This term refers to the simultaneous issue of a life annuity with a non-guaranteed period and a guaranteed life insurance policy [usually whole life or term to 100]. The face value of the life insurance would be the same amount that was used to purchase the annuity. This combination of life annuity providing the highest payout of all types of annuities, along with a guaranteed life insurance policy allowed an uninsurable person to convert his/her rrsp into the best choice of annuity and guarantee that upon his/her death, the full value of the annuity would be paid tax free through the life insurance policy to his family members. However, in the early 1990's, the Federal tax authorities put a stop to the issuing of standard life rates to rated or uninsurable applicants. Insuring a life annuity in this manner is still an excellent way to provide guaranteed tax free funds to family members but the application for the annuity and the application for the life insurance are separate transactions and today, most likely conducted through two different insurance companies so that there is no suspicion of preferential treatment given to the life insurance application.


Beneficiary

This is the person who benefits from the terms of a trust, a will, an rrsp, a RRIF, a LIF, an annuity or a life insurance policy. In relation to rrsp's, RRIF's, LIF's, Annuities and of course life insurance, if the beneficiary is a spouse, parent, offspring or grand-child, they are considered to be a preferred beneficiary. If the insured has named a preferred beneficiary, the death benefit is invariably protected from creditors. There have been some court challenges of this right of protection but so far they have been unsuccessful. See "Creditor Protection" below. A beneficiary under the age of 18 must be represented by an individual guardian over the age of 18 or a public official who represents minors generally. A policy owner may, in the designation of a beneficiary, appoint someone to act as trustee for a minor. Death benefits are not subject to income taxes. If you make your beneficiary your estate, the death benefit will be included in your assets for probate. Probate filing fees are currently $14 per thousand of estate value in British Columbia and $15 per thousand of estate value in Ontario.
Another way to avoid probate fees or creditor claims against life insurance proceeds is for the insured person to designate and register with his/her insurance company's head office an irrevocable beneficiary. By making such a designation, the insured gives up the right to make any changes to his/her policy without the consent of the irrevocable beneficiary. Because of the seriousness of the implications, an irrevocable designation should only be made for good reason and where the insured fully understands the consequences.
NoteA successful challenge of the rules relating to beneficiaries was concluded in an Ontario court in 1996. The Insurance Act says its provisions relating to beneficiaries are made "notwithstanding the Succession Law Reform Act." There are two relevent provisions of the Succession Law Reform Act. One section of the act gives a judge the power to make any order concerning an estate if the deceased person has failed to provide for a dependant. Another section says money from a life insurance policy can be considered part of the estate if an order is made to support a dependant. In the case in question, the deceased had attempted to deceive his lawful dependents by making his common-law-spouse the beneficiary of an insurance policy which by court order was supposed to name his ex-spouse and children as beneficiaries.


Creditor Proof Protection

The creditor proof status of such things as life insurance, non-registered life insurance investments, life insurance rrsps and life insurance RRIFs make these attractive products for high net worth individuals, professionals and business owners who may have creditor concerns. Under most circumstances the creditor proof rules of the different provincial insurance acts take priority over the federal bankruptcy rules.
The provincial insurance acts protect life insurance products which have a family class beneficiary. Family class beneficiaries include the spouse, parent, child or grandchild of the life insured, except in Quebec, where creditor protection rules apply to spouse, ascendants and descendants of the insured. Investments sold by other financial institutions do not offer the same security should the holder go bankrupt. There are also circumstances under which the creditor proof protections do not hold for life insurance products. Federal bankruptcy law disallows the protection for any transfers made within one year of bankruptcy. In addition, should it be found that a person shifted money to an insurance company fund in bad faith for the specific purpose of avoiding creditors, these funds will not be creditor proof.


Dollar Cost Averaging

A way of smoothing out your investment deposits by investing regularly. Instead of making one large deposit a year into your rrsp, you make smaller regular monthly deposits. If you are buying units in a mutual fund or segregated equity fund, you would end up buying more units in the month that values were low and less units in the month that values were higher. By spreading out your purchases, you don't have to worry about buying at the right time.


Income Splitting

This is a tax planning strategy of arranging for income to be transferred to family members who are in lower tax brackets than the one earning the income, thus reducing taxes. Even though attribution rules limit income splitting, there are still a number of legitimate ways to do so, such as through the use of spousal rrsps.



Life Income Fund

Commonly known as a LIF, this is one of the options available to locked in Registered Pension Plan (RPP) holders for income payout as opposed to Registered Retirement Savings Plan (rrsp) holders choice of payout through Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIF). A LIF must be converted to a unisex annuity by the time the holder reaches age 80.


Registered Pension Plan

Commonly referred to as an RPP this is a tax sheltered employee group plan approved by Federal and Provincial governments allowing employees to have deductions made directly from their wages by their employer with a resulting reduction of income taxes at source. These plans are easy to implement but difficult to dissolve should the group have a change of heart. Employer contributions are usually a percentage of the employee's salary, typically from 3% to 5%, with a maximum of the lessor of 20% or $3,500 per annum. The employee has the same right of contribution. Vesting is generally set at 2 years, which means that the employee has right of ownership of both his/her and his/her employers contributions to the plan after 2 years. It also means that all contributions are locked in after 2 years and cannot be cashed in for use by the employee in a low income year. Should the employee change jobs, these funds can only be transferred to the RPP of a new employer or the funds can be transferred to an individual rrsp (or any number of rrsps) but in either scenario, the funds are locked in and cannot be accessed until at least age 60. The only choices available to access locked in RPP funds after age 60 are the conversion to a Life Income Fund or a Unisex Annuity.
To further define an RPP, Registered Pension Plans take two forms; Defined Benefit or Defined Contribution (also known as money purchase plans). The Defined Benefit plan establishes the amount of money in advance that is to be paid out at retirement based usually on number of years of employee service and various formulae involving percentages of average employee earnings. The Defined Benefit plan is subject to constant government scrutiny to make certain that sufficient contributions are being made to provide for the predetermined pension payout. On the other hand, the Defined Contribution plan is considerably easier to manage. The employer simply determines the percentage to be contributed within the prescribed limits. Whatever amount has grown in the employee's reserve by retirement determines how much the pension payout will be by virtue of the amount of LIF or Annuity payout it will purchase.
The most simple group rrsp plan is a group billed rrsp. This means that each employee has his own rrsp plan and the employer deducts the contributions directly from the employee's wages and sends them directly to the rrsp plan administrator. Regular rrsp rules apply in that maximum contribution in the current year is the lessor of 18% or $13,500. Generally, to encourage this kind of plan, the employer also agrees to make a regular contribution to the employee's plans, knowing full well that any contributions made immediately belong to the employee. Should the employee change jobs, he/she can take their plan with them and continue making contributions or cash it in and pay tax in the year in which the money is taken into income.


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Registered Retirement Savings Plan (Canada)

Commonly referred to as an rrsp, this is a tax sheltered and tax deferred savings plan recognized by the Federal and Provincial tax authorities, whereby deposits are fully tax deductable in the year of deposit and fully taxable in the year of receipt. The ability to defer taxes on rrsp earnings allows one to save much faster than is ordinarily possible. The new rules which apply to rrsp's are that the holder of such a plan must convert it into income by the end of the year in which the holder turns age 69. The choices for conversion are to simply cash it in an pay full tax in the year of receipt, convert it to a RRIF and take a varying stream of income, paying tax on the amount received annually until the income is exhausted, or converting it into an annuity with guaranteed payments for a chosen number of years, again paying tax each year on moneys received.
If you are currently 69 years of age, you may still contribute to your own rrsp until December 31st of this year and realize a tax deduction on this year's income. You must also, however, make provisions before December 31st of the year for converting your rrsp into either a RRIF or an annuity, otherwise, the full balance of your rrsp becomes taxable on January 1 of the following year. If you are older than age 69, still have earned income, and have a younger spouse, you may continue to contribute to a spousal rrsp until that spouse reaches 69 years of age. Contributions would be based on your own contribution level and are deducted from your taxable income.


Registered Retirement Income Fund (Canada)

Commonly referred to as a RRIF, this is one of the options available to rrsp holders to convert their tax sheltered savings into taxable income.


Spousal Registered Retirement Savings Plan

This is an rrsp owned by the spouse of the person contributing to it. The contributor can direct up to 100% of eligible rrsp deposits into a spousal rrsp each and every year. Contributing to a spouses rrsp reduces the amount one can contribute to one's own rrsp, however, if the spouse is a lower income earner, it is an excellent way in which to split income for lower taxation in retirement years.



 

 

 

 

 

 

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