Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF)

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What is a RRIF?

During retirement, your RRSP can transform into a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) that gives you an income stream throughout retirement.


Before Dec. 31 of the year that you turn 71, you must close your RRSP. Instead of cashing out and paying a huge tax bill, you can convert it into a RRIF and take annual withdrawals.

Annual withdrawal

Every year, you’re required to withdraw a minimum percentage of your RRIF based on your or your spouse’s age. The withdrawals are fully taxable, but withdrawal planning can help you reduce taxes.

Continue to invest

You can continue to invest and get tax-deferred growth in the RRIF. Consider updating your investment strategies to adjust to withdrawals and any life changes.

How a RRIF works.

Withdrawals from a RRIF are fully taxable. Working with a financial pro could save you taxes and headache. Here’s what to expect when you meet with us and what happens after.

Starting the conversation

Ideally, you should reach out to us a few years before retirement. If you wait until 71 to convert your RRSP into a RRIF, you might miss out on decisions that could save you money.

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Retirement income options

No matter if you’re on the beach or the slopes for retirement, you’ll still need to budget. We’ll help you to map out expenses and look at income options with your RRSP such as RRIFs but also annuities, and how these could affect taxes and government benefits.

RRIF withdrawal amounts and tax brackets

We’ll help plan withdrawals. Once you convert some or all your RRSP into a RRIF, every year you’ll have to withdraw at least the required minimum percentage based on age. This taxable income could change your tax bracket or eligibility for government benefits like the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and Old Age Security (OAS). Make it easy for yourself and talk to us about automated withdrawals.

Converting RRSP to RRIF

All you need to do is fill in some forms with us. Your investments can be converted “in-kind” meaning they stay invested as they were. You’ll also need to name a beneficiary again as you did with your RRSP.

Keep investing

RRIF investment income continues to be tax-deferred within the plan. When you were contributing to your RRSP, you were probably using long-term investment strategies. Now that you’re withdrawing from your savings, it’s good to use both short and long-term investment strategies. Consider booking a portfolio review twice a year to stay on track.

Sit back and enjoy your retirement

After all that math, it’s time to enjoy. You can always adjust your withdrawal plan or occasionally take extra.

Book a call to talk RRIFs

When to convert your RRSP into RRIF.

When you convert can affect your taxable income and government benefits like Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS). Talk to our wealth management professionals or an accountant to work out your best RRIF withdrawal strategy.

Reasons to convert to a RRIF before 71

  • You don’t have pension income or other sources of income
  • You want to delay starting CPP and OAS to avoid reductions
  • You have a large RRSP and want to spread out withdrawals to lower your tax bracket throughout your retirement or to meet OAS, GIS orother benefit thresholds when they start

Reasons to wait until 71

  • You have pension income
  • You're self-employed and want to draw dividends from your company
  • You have other savings and want to keep your RRIF growth tax-deferred

Ask the pros.

More advice from our pros on RRIFs.

What are some common strategies for withdrawing from RRIFs?

RRIF planholders can customize withdrawals to match their circumstances, provided at least the minimum required amount is withdrawn each year. Some strategies include:

  • Minimum RRIF payments - withdrawing only the required minimum
  • Adaptive RRIF payments - adapting withdrawals to account for other income sources or unexpected expenses
  • Level RRIF payments - aiming to have steady withdrawals
  • Indexed RRIF payments - withdrawing at a steady rate that increases each year
  • Income RRIF payments - withdrawing all RRIF income in early years
  • In-kind RRIF payments - moving assets into a non-registered investment account rather than selling them first

Each strategy has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Learn more about these strategies

Can I base my RRIF withdrawals on my spouse or partner's age?

You may base your RRIF's minimum withdrawals on your spouse or common-law partner's age rather than yours. You must decide when opening your RRIF. Electing your partner's age for your withdrawals has several possible benefits:

  • If your partner is younger, your minimum withdrawal will be lower (much lower if they're under age 71) - this lets you keep more in your RRIF and defer more tax, longer
  • If you want to withdraw more than the minimum required for your age, you can base your withdrawals on your older partner's age and pay less withholding tax on withdrawals
  • If both your and your partner's RRIFs are based on the same birthdate, they can be combined into one plan if one of you passes away

Forgot to use your partner's age when opening your RRIF? Or have you married or begun a common-law relationship since opening your RRIF? You can transfer at any time into a new RRIF based on a spouse's age.

What is RRIF withholding tax?

Income tax is deducted from RRIF payments exceeding your minimum annual withdrawal. Since no minimum withdrawal is required the first year your RRIF is open, any withdrawal in that first year will have income tax deducted from it.

RRIF beneficiary or successor annuitant?

RRIFs can help keep estate planning simple. You can name your spouse or partner as your RRIF's "successor annuitant" so that, on your death, the RRIF becomes theirs and they can continue making withdrawals. Alternatively, they can transfer your RRIF in-kind (keeping the same investments) directly to their own RRSP or RRIF, without immediate tax. If you don't have a spouse, or prefer to name another beneficiary, the remaining balance can be paid to your beneficiary or estate (usually the balance will be taxable on your final tax return, unless the beneficiary is a financially dependent child/grandchild).

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Retirement next steps.

Get a portfolio review

You’re already thinking about your investments, why not get a second opinion?

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Estate planning

Nobody likes to talk about it but it’s important. Protect your loved ones even after you pass.

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