Is your RRSP ready for you to retire?

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The Canadian government regulates the Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) program, allowing it to have unique tax benefits as you save for your retirement. Annual RRSP contributions can reduce the amount of income tax you pay in the year of your contribution. These monies invested annually grow on a tax-deferred basis, and tax is only paid at the time of withdrawal. RRSP Planning is a very integral part of your investment planning.

Have a look at the graph below to see how RRSP money accumulates over time based on a maximum annual investment.

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Your investments grow tax-free Your RRSP investments accumulate within the plan tax-free, as do any addition to your contributions, including capital gains, interest, dividends, and any other growth via dividends or distributions paid out on an investment fund. The longer your money stays sheltered from the taxman, the greater the tax-free accumulative earning power of your investment. However, taxation occurs once income is withdrawn from your RRSP.

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Planning Together – Spousal RRSPs and Tax

A spousal RRSP allows a couple to place assets in the lower-earning spouse’s registered account. The benefit of this manoeuvre enables the account owner to withdraw more in retirement at a lower tax bracket while retaining spousal RRSP ownership, controlling the choice of the RRSP investment vehicles. The owner also governs when withdrawals are made and pays the income taxes upon withdrawal (if the funds have been in the account for three years).

What happens when the RRSP account holder dies?

For estate planning purposes, upon the decease of the account holder, the RRSP is paid out to the beneficiary designated for that account.

How Much can you contribute to your RRSP?

Your Contribution Limit To find out your allowable  RRSP contributions you are allowed to deduct for your income taxes, check Last Year’s Deduction Limit Statement on your latest Notice of Assessment or Notice of Reassessment. Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) establishes guidelines for the minimum and maximum overall yearly amount a person is eligible to contribute to their RRSP. The basic formula used to determine a taxpayer’s eligible contribution is as follows: 18% of earned income minus any Pension Adjustment = the eligible contribution amount.

Who can contribute to an RRSP? All Canadian taxpayers with “earned income” in the previous tax year, or those having unused contributions carried forward from previous years can contribute to their RRSP. A person is eligible to make contributions to their RRSP until December 31 in the year they reach age 71, provided that they have contribution room.

Two methods of contributing to your RRSP You may invest by purchasing a lump sum investment prior to the deadline. The alternative is to invest on a monthly basis using dollar-cost averaging. You can always top up your RRSP contribution (up to the allowable limit), just prior to the deadline year by year.

The RRSP limit Table

Source: CRA

Revised: January 2021

Plan your RRSP Ahead to Reduce Taxable Income

It pays to plan your RRSP contributions before the end of the year to reduce your taxes that will be due on the current taxable year. To achieve this, assess your income and calculate how you can optimise the use of an RRSP to reduce your taxable income.

You may have Carry-forward Contribution Room

If you have not previously invested up to your maximum RRSP contribution limit, CRA allows you to carry over unused contribution room into future years for an indefinite period. Look on your Notice of Assessment.

What can you deduct on your tax return?

You can claim a deduction for:

  • contributions you made to your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP) or Specified Pension Plan (SPP)
  • contributions you made to your spouse’s or common-law partner’s RRSP or SPP
  • your unused RRSP, PRPP or SPP contributions from a previous year

You cannot claim a deduction for:

  • fees charged to buy and sell within a trusteed RRSP
  • amounts you pay for administration services for an RRSP
  • the interest you paid on money you borrowed to contribute to an RRSP, PRPP, or SPP
  • any capital losses within your RRSP
  • employer contributions to your PRPP

What is the deadline to contribute to an RRSP, PRPP, or SPP for the purpose of claiming a deduction on your tax return?

The Income Tax Act sets the deadline as “on or before the day that is 60 days after the end of the year”, which is March 1st except in a leap year, when it will be February 29th; or where the deadline falls on a weekend, it may be extended.

Can contributions be made to a deceased individual’s RRSP, PRPP, or SPP?

No one can contribute to a deceased individual’s RRSP, PRPP or SPP after the date of death. But, the deceased individual’s legal representative can make contributions to the surviving spouse’s or common-law partner’s RRSP and SPP. The contribution must be made within the year of death or during the first 60 days after the end of that year. Contributions made to a spouse’s or common-law partner’s RRSP or SPP can be claimed on the deceased individual’s tax return, up to that individual’s RRSP/PRPP deduction limit, for the year of death.

What is not considered an RRSP, PRPP, or SPP contribution?

The following are not considered to be an RRSP, PRPP, or SPP contribution for the purpose of claiming a deduction on your tax return. We can point out the special rules that apply if you:

  • repay funds that you withdrew under the Home Buyer’s Plan
  • repay funds that you withdrew under the Lifelong Learning Plan

Note: It is recommended that you get more information on this subject by calling our office or your accountant.

How is your RRSP/PRPP deduction limit determined?

The Canada Revenue Agency generally calculates your RRSP/PRPP deduction limit as follows:

The lesser of:

  • 18% of your earned income in the previous year, and
  • the annual RRSP limit

Minus:

  • your pension adjustments (PA)
  • your past service pension adjustments (PSPA)

Plus:

  • your pension adjustment reversals (PAR), and
  • your unused RRSP, PRPP, or SPP contributions at the end of the previous year

Source: CRA

Revised: Jan 21

RRSP versus Non-Registered Investments

Let’s compare taxed and tax-free investment returns to see this advantage. First, let’s look at investing outside of your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP). If you have a marginal tax rate of 40% and invest $2,000 per year for the next 30 years at an average 7% annual return, you will accumulate $120,864.

Now consider if you invested the same money in the RRSP. If you contribute $2,000 every year to your RRSP for the next 30 years, and you earn an average 7% return, you will earn $202,146. The tax-advantaged growth empowers your RRSP as the growth is compounded over a long period of time.

Why is it important to save for retirement? RRSPs can give you the financial resources you need for a comfortable retirement that will meet your lifestyle requirements. Many Canadians are living for 30 years during retirement with a need to provide an income.

Do your heirs expect to inherit?

Do your heirs expect to inherit an old homestead property, a family cottage, a residence, your farm, an art collection, furniture, or business shares? They may have to be liquidated by the estate, perhaps at a loss, to pay any existing tax liability. Life insurance proceeds may help to side-step probate, or estate administration tax, and can cover any estate liabilities that could impinge on bequests that you want to make to your loved ones.

Make sure that your gifts stay in your family. Deemed dispositions of capital assets at death occur even if an asset is willed directly to an heir. A capital gains tax liability remains in the deceased’s final tax return and reduces the value of the estate.

5 Methods to reduce taxes that will be due upon your death.

  1. Use the spousal (and disabled child) rollover provisions of RRSPs or RRIFs.
  2. Leave assets that have accrued capital gains to your spouse to defer tax.
  3. Leave assets without capital gains to other (non-spouse) family members.
  4. While you are alive, gradually sell assets having capital gains, to avoid dealing with the capital gains all at once in your estate.
  5. Purchase life insurance to cover capital gains taxation in the estate.

Taxes may be payable on gains.

Income-producing real estate, a second residence, or cottage, and any other assets left to surviving family members, such as shares of a business, of stocks and investment funds may face capital gains taxation.

You may also want to consider charitable donations to lessen taxes in the estate. Hire an estate planning lawyer and make sure your Will is updated and includes your estate planning directives.

TFSAs can help transfer money to your heirs. 

Money accumulated in a TFSA does not attract taxes at the time of death. If you want to create increased transferable after-tax wealth, consider moving money into TFSAs from non-registered investment accounts. Note: It is important to get an Advisor’s guidance, and perhaps an accountant to implement this in a careful tax plan.

Be careful, though to also consider taxable implications when considering selling non-registered assets. Ask your tax advisor if you will be triggering a  taxable gain? Possibly utilize TFSAs to their maximum potential, and monitor the comparative tax impact of transferring wealth from RRSPs/RRIFs to heirs of the estate.

How can I reduce Probate or Estate Administration fees?

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After the death of an individual, every estate must file a final (or ‘terminal’) tax return. All assets are deemed to disposed of at the time of passing, and this can trigger probate fees and other expenses.

A certificate of appointment (“Probate”) or Estate Administration Tax (EAT) is not always necessary to actualize the transfer of certain assets. Much depends on how the asset is held during one’s lifetime, and the value of the asset transferred.  Some institutions will not require probate for assets under a certain amount.  Concerning jointly-owned real property, and bank or investment accounts, these assets will pass to the surviving joint tenant by right of survivorship.  In cases where joint ownership of assets is considered for estate planning purposes, it would be prudent to obtain legal advice.

Life Insurers offer life insurance policies, segregated funds, and term funds, which may designate one or more primary beneficiaries, and further contingent (secondary) beneficiaries, allowing probate/EAT to be circumvented entirely, enabling direct access to those funds without joint ownership or survivorship of a joint tenant. Segregated funds and term funds are classified as deferred annuity policies, and as such, these assets can help lessen the overall fees charged on your estate. Monies pass privately and directly to your beneficiaries, outside of your estate and the probate process.

Concerns for Estate Planning

In Ontario, Probate fees were the forerunner of the new Estate Administration Tax (EAT), which is to shift to the Minister of Revenue. An Executor/Trustee will now have to file a detailed summary of assets that are distributable under the will. The Ministry reserves the right to take up to 4 years to assess, or the right to reassess, making the Executor/Trustees responsible for that reassessment.  Executors and beneficiaries may face liabilities if estate assets distribute before assessment or reassessment.  How does an Executor reclaim assets already distributed?

Assessment powers are not minor With the introduction of the estate administration tax (EAT), the government has given the Minister of Revenue audit and verification powers patterned after the federal Income Tax Act, thus giving the Minister of Revenue the right to assess an estate in respect of its EAT liability.

Estate trustees may be personally liable for the claims of creditors that cannot be paid as a result of an improper estate distribution. It will be an offence for an estate trustee to fail to make the required filing with the Minister of Revenue or where anyone makes, or assists in making, a false or misleading or omitted fact in connection with the estate trustee’s filing. Because offences are punishable by fine, imprisonment or by both, errors and omission insurance may be needed by executors handling larger estates.

Potential Legal Issues for Estate Trustees and Executors
Imagine if you are a personally chosen friend of a deceased person with $1.5 million in assets, who previously selected you as Executor/Trustee of his or her estate. Though duty-bound, you may feel that the risk is now very high if an error occurs. Consequently, you may want to off-load the potential liability to a professional accountant and lawyer to present all the documentation for EAT.

Consider that the costs of such a transfer of liability could rise to the maximum of 6% per professional (two professionals would mean 2 x 6%) of the value of the Estate. This could bring the total cost of dealing with EAT to a maximum of 13.5% of the estate value. In the above case, fees could cost upwards of $202,500.

Segregated and Term funds may offer investors an edge over other investment products in the province of Ontario when it comes to planning someone’s Estate. Segregated and Term funds also offer estate privacy of the distribution of money under the insurance act.

Note: Not applicable in Québec as notarial wills do not need to be probated by the court and, for holograph wills and wills made in the presence of witnesses, probate fees are minimal.

 

How do I protect the finances of the Successor of my Business?

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Here are ways to protect your successor financially.

  • Allow the potential successor to get involved in managing important team projects. Try to increase the successor’s financial insights and his or her general responsibilities over time. Allow independence while ensuring that the right professionals assist the successor such as a good accountant and insurance agent.
  • Consider visiting other family businesses that have transferred their business through continuity planning.
  • Establish mentors and advisors for the successor. Consider setting up a board of directors if one is not in place. Implement leadership training programs.
We do not suddenly become what we do not cooperate in becoming.— William J. Bennett

Protect your assets during Succession in the following ways:

  • Cover your key persons Use life and disability insurance to cover the cost of replacing an owner, successor, contingent successor, or a key executive in the event of death or disability.
  • Ensure debt redemption Life insurance proceeds can pay off bank loans and other liabilities—paid at the time of the owner’s death. Also, consider critical illness insurance, which would pay up to $2,000,000 if the proprietor were to become critically ill.
  • Provide income replacement insurance (Disability insurance) benefits can provide income to an owner, successor, or key executive if disabled over certain periods of time. The income paid as a benefit to a disabled insured places less payroll burden on the company.
  • Fund a buy-sell agreement Life and disability insurance proceeds can fund a buy-out upon death or disability, where there are two or more owners in business (effective for current owners or succeeding generations).
  • Fund a stock redemption Where other members of the family own stock, you can buy life insurance on the owner, and make the successor the beneficiary. This will provide cash upon the owner’s death to allow the successor to buy the stock of say, sisters or brothers, based on a pre-determined formula related to equalizing the estate.
  • Fund capital gains tax liabilities Where large capital gains will impair the company or reduce personal assets, or disallow a bequest of a cottage or other asset, use a permanent life insurance product, designed to pay off all capital gains liabilities.
  • Create capital to equalize your estate Where one child will inherit the company, life insurance can be purchased on the owner and/or spouse, to pay the non-involved children a tax-free cash benefit in predetermined amounts, clear of probate. Avoiding resentment, you can inform these children that they will be treated fairly in the overall estate.
Let him who would move the whole world, first move himself. — Socrates

Maintain relationships during succession

  • Keep your banker informed What would your banker do if something happened to your firm’s current owner? Who else knows of the loans or the true financial status of the company? Introduce your successor (and the succession plan) to your banker and go over all the liabilities of the company. Reveal to he banker your life insurance planning that can offset liabilities in the balance sheet.
  • Sustain client relationships Introduce your successor early on, to your key clients. Perhaps host client appreciation events.
  • Harmonize the successor with the constituency The key players will help the company survive, including key suppliers; influential family within and without; shareholders whom you hope will seek minimal dividends in lieu of future growth; employees, especially those holding company stock; and the key executives.
  •  Diversify sources of retirement income Keep your retirement investments separate from your business Avoid investing all of your profits into the business with disregard to developing your own independent retirement resources. Thus, you will not need to rely on the company to create an ongoing retirement income, though you may indeed receive dividends and income from the business. Consider purchasing segregated funds, separating your personal assets from the company, while reducing exposure to creditors.
  • Move towards financial independence of your business Though you leave a legacy to your successor(s), you can ensure that the legacy will have sufficient funds to survive during and after the succession. Drawing from your retirement savings can reduce the need to depend on business income (or dividends).

 

What are the 5 Laws of Wealth Creation?

Here are five wealth creation principles that will remain true forever.

1. You must get time on your side by investing early in your lifetime. Time adds value to money. Delayed investing shortens your time, which increasingly requires the compensation of higher and higher returns to meet your retirement goals. Examine the following graph to see how time affects your investment growth.

Source: Financium

2. Your investment growth must exceed inflation. If you earn 8% on a $10,000 investment per year, over 20 years with inflation at an average 4% your actual investment will grow to $457,620, but your actual buying power in the future will only be $208,852 (while your money is growing, inflation is increasing the cost of goods). The graph below indicates how inflation might affect your investment’s future buying power.

3. Algebraic factors apply to investing. You can indicate your multiple on capital invested by applying mathematical rules, factoring in both time and rate of return.

Graph

· Double Your Money: Rule of 72. To find out how many years it will take to double your money, divide 72 by your average annual rate of return.

· Triple Your Money: Rule of 113. Divide 113 by your average annual rate of return to see how many years it will take to triple your invested money.

4. Taxation can reduce your investment returns.

Every dollar of tax retained through tax-planning is a dollar earned.

· Deduct what you can against your income. Business owners have the advantage of deducting many operating expenses from their revenues.

· Contribute to registered investments. For both business owners and employees, registered investments may allow deductions against earned income and may offer tax-deferral.

· Defer as much taxation as possible. The beauty of registered investments is that they allow some tax planning benefits depending on your income, and capital available to invest.

5. Become an active investor. It is important to begin investing early in life when you get your first job or begin your career. By beginning early, you can have the above stated mathematical laws of doubling and tripling your money working for you. Many wait far too long before investing and lose the value that time can add to a good investment portfolio by increasing the future accumulation of investment money.

The following table will let you know just how much you will need to invest to accumulate one million dollars.

Source: Financium

Estate planning with the right insurance protection

A proper estate plan will include an updated Will and a plan to avoid paying too much tax on investment assets such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds; and other properties that may have accrued capital gains. It will seek to minimize probate, pay off debts and prepare to meet certain family income needs. Estate planning often includes detailed life insurance planning designed to pay out a benefit upon the death of one whose estate is about to wind down.

When transferring your assets, including mutual funds, using a Will (also referred to as a Testamentary Trust), the key is to position as much of your wealth as possible to pass to your heirs. If you hold equity mutual funds that buy and hold stocks, they may have accrued capital gains. There will be a deemed disposition of all your property at fair market value at the time of your death. For some, this could mean that there may be an existing capital gains tax liability. There are a few things to assess as you begin an estate plan.

Assess your tax liability List each separate asset you own, the purchase price and date, as well as its current value. Include your non-registered investments in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. Have your accountant assess what the tax liability will be.

Assess how you and your spouse can defer taxes Property willed to your spouse can be rolled over tax-free on your death. Your spouse will inherit the assets at the unchanged adjusted cost base (cost amount) of the property. The taxation of the asset will then occur when your spouse disposes of the property or at the death of the spouse. This tax deferral is beneficial especially if you have large holdings in equity mutual funds invested for value as in large cap or blue chip stocks. Alternatively, you can choose to transfer any asset to your spouse at fair market value on death and recognize the accrued gain or loss.

Assess RRSPs if you have dependent children RRSPs can be transferred tax-deferred to your dependent children or grandchildren, even if a spouse survives you.

Assess income splitting using a testamentary trust By establishing a testamentary trust in your will, you will be able to maintain control during your lifetime over the use of your assets such as a mutual fund investment portfolio. The trust can provide guidelines for the treatment of these assets after your death. The trust document can specify the split of income among heirs. Carefully planned income splitting may allow for significant tax savings.

Assess insurance solutions There are estate planning solutions that only insurance can offer, providing both personal and business solutions to ensure you have financial security. First, assess your tax liabilities with an estate lawyer and/or accountant and make estate plans to determine how to pay them. Consider the following various insurance plans, such as life insurance where the capital gains tax liabilities are substantial.

Personal insurance solutions to protect you and your family include:

• Life Insurance
• Critical Illness Insurance (CI)
• Long Term Care Insurance (LTC)
• Estate Preservation
• Individual Health and Dental plans

If you own a business, insurance solutions include:

• Partnership Insurance
• Buy/Sell Agreements
• Key Person Insurance
• Business Disability Insurance
• Business Office Overhead
• Collateral Loan Insurance
• Group Health Benefits

Business plans must include retirement planning

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Many business owners focus on their business and forget to seriously invest for their own retirement.

The Retirement myth of the Entrepreneur A majority of business owners believe their company will provide investment capital when sold, or if passed on to the next generation, a salary or dividend payments. For some, their personal financial stability is riding on the future success of the company.

Make hay while the sun shines Don’t be overly optimistic, that your company will succeed and/or create a good revenue forever. When a business represents the major value of an estate, planning becomes necessary. You may make hay while the sun shines, but be sure to stack a lot of it away for future use.

Many are not convinced that they need to plan their estate or the succession of their business. Despite the financial importance of their business, most business owners do not know what the tax liability would be if both spouses were to die. An estate plan can ensure that these taxes will be paid from one or a combination of the following sources:

  • Life insurance
  • The business, from cash flow or liquid assets
  • RRSPSs/RRIFs (taxed when both spouses die)
  • TFSAs
  • Non-registered investments

We are all aging despite our business successes Consider taking the time to do some basic estate planning to determine who will take over the company, and where your retirement income will come from. Revise or complete both your will and power of attorney. Review your personal and/or corporate-owned life insurance, disability coverage, and key-person insurance.

In some cases, the payment of relatively small life insurance premiums can entirely solve the estate’s future capital gains tax problems, or generate capital to replace the tax that may be payable in your estate.

Life insurance can also eliminate company debt and help a succeeding son or daughter with new business capital. Finally, it can help fairly equalize the division of your estate among all of your heirs.

Can life insurance offer my heirs capital security?

Life insurance has provided families with basic financial security for well over 100 years. For example, a healthy, non-smoking 40-year-old male can purchase up to $500,000 worth of insurance for approximately $50 per month. That life insurance policy would pay out a death benefit, the equivalent of up to 10,000 times the amount of one monthly premium payment.

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In this case, the $500,000 could provide necessities such as groceries, shelter, home repairs, means of transportation, and education for dependents. In this sense, the value of life insurance is tangible. Contrasted against the assets and services such a large death benefit can purchase, we realize how small the premium cost really is.

When does life insurance begin covering my family’s financial risk?

Even if death occurs one day after the initial premium payment, the full benefit is payable tax-free, thus instantly creating new capital, sometimes far exceeding the insured individual’s net worth. Most accountants and financial advisors agree that life insurance is foundational for families with dependents to build financial security.

An immediate foundation of financial security. In addition to savings, life insurance is designed to immediately provide the capital necessary to create ongoing investment income for dependents after income taxes and other liabilities are paid.

When you are not financially independent Life insurance can make up the shortfall when investments assets have not yet grown to the extent that your net worth enables you or your heirs to live in total financial independence.

When your health is not the best Many people who are not in perfect health are surprised to find that they can also purchase life insurance to ensure their financial security.

Note: Life insurance premiums vary according to the policy type. In some cases, paying a little more premium offers enhanced benefits Be aware that tax-deferral strategies may change due to legislation.