What is an RRSP?

A registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) allows savings for retirement to grow tax free in a special plan registered with the Canadian government. RRSPs are a key part of retirement planning because of the tax advantages they offer. But you need to know the rules to get the most mileage out of RRSPs and avoid tax penalties.

RRSP contribution limit

  • The total amount you can contribute to your RRSP each year is made up of your contribution limit for the current year plus any "carry-forward" contribution room from previous years.
  • Your RRSP contribution limit for 2019 is 18% of earned income you reported on your tax return in the previous year, up to a maximum of $26,500. For 2020, the dollar limit is $27,230. If you have a company pension plan, your RRSP contribution limit is reduced – see the last bullet point below for details.
  • If you don't make the maximum allowable RRSP contribution in any given year, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) lets you carry forward the unused contribution room indefinitely and add this to the amount you can contribute for future years.
  • Both your annual contribution limit and any carry-forward contribution room are shown on your notice of assessment.

Do you have an employer-sponsored pension plan? If so, your RRSP contribution limit is reduced by the pension adjustment. The pension adjustment is calculated by your employer and reported to the CRA on your T4 each year. If you're a member of a defined contribution registered pension plan (RPP) or defined profit sharing plan (DPSP), your pension adjustment is the total contributions to the plan made by you and your employer. If your RPP is defined benefit, your pension adjustment is determined by a formula designed to reflect the pension benefit entitlement you earned in the year. For more information, see the CRA website.

What is the age limit to contribute?

You can contribute to your RRSP up to December 31 of the year you turn 71. You must convert to a registered retirement income fund (RRIF) after that or purchase an annuity to avoid having the value of your RRSP fully taxed in the year.*

What can I do with an RRSP?

An RRSP is a simple way to save for retirement and pay less income tax. There are other really useful things you can do with your RRSP though, including:

What are the main benefits of an RRSP?

  1. Reduce tax deductions at source: Contributing annually to your RRSP makes you eligible for tax reductions and savings at the on-set.
  2. Use the RRSP over-contribution limit: You can carry forward unused contribution room indefinitely and add this to the amount you can contribute in future.

* This information is a guideline only and is current as of the publication date. This information is not intended to provide specific financial, tax, investment, legal or accounting advice. For further details, visit the CRA website.

Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with mutual fund investments. Please read the prospectus before investing. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated.

© Sun Life Global Investments (Canada) Inc. Sun Life Global Investments (Canada) Inc. is a member of the Sun Life Financial group of companies.