Mandatory Withdrawals – RRIF 101
Mandatory account withdrawals – sounds fierce but that’s what a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) is partly about.
This is my favourite definition for a RRIF: it’s like a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) in reverse.
Here’s my primer about RRIFs in this “101” post today.
- You can choose the types of investments to hold in a RRIF; individual stocks, Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), mutual funds and more. In fact, you can hold the same assets inside your self-directed RRSP as your RRIF.
- You don’t have to start a RRIF when you retire but you must collapse your RRSP in the year you turn age 71, so rolling RRSP investments into a RRIF is one option for you.
- Like the RRSP, you don’t pay any tax on the money earned from investments inside the RRIF.
- You pay tax on the money withdrawn from a RRIF.
- You cannot contribute money to a RRIF; it’s a money-goes-out account.
- Once the RRIF is established you are forced to make minimum withdrawals, meaning you may need to sell investments inside the account to meet those minimum withdrawals.
2018 RRIF Minimum Withdrawal* Table:
(at start of year)
|95 & over||20.00%|
*Different rules applied to RRIFs established before 1992.
**You can use $2,000 associated with the pension income tax credit after age 65.
***Thinking about rolling over your RRSP to a RRIF? That could work but let’s look at an example. For a newly minted $500,000 RRIF you’ll be forced to withdraw a minimum of $37,400 and you’ll be taxed on that income. The following year, you’ll be forced to withdraw more money and you’ll be taxed on that as well.
- You can decide the frequency at which you want money withdrawn from your RRIF.
- By design, RRIFs provide income for both the annuitant and his/her spouse. This means the minimum withdrawal percentage can be based upon the younger spouse’s age to reduce the required minimum withdrawal percentage.
- Referenced above, you must pay tax when you take money from your RRIF; money is considered taxable income in the year it is withdrawn and must be added to your income for tax purposes.
- You can withdraw more money beyond the minimum forced amount but you’ll be taxed on that money as well.
- Consider income-generating investments inside your RRIF; because you’re forced to withdraw money from this account and while you withdraw the dividends or distributions you can keep your capital intact.
- Money left in your RRIF when you die can go to a beneficiary – read more here for tax considerations and beneficiaries for your RRSP, RRIF, TFSA and much more.
How to optimize RRIFs
I think RRIFs fill a great space in many retirement plans but I’m far from sure how I will use this account decades down the road. This is my current thinking:
- Mid-50s, early retirement if possible, withdraw some money out of RRSP(s).
- Use tax-inefficient money in retirement first:
- Withdrawal from registered accounts like the RRSP
- Use pension income for living expenses, and
- Keep tax-efficient investments intact for as long as I can (investments inside non-registered and Tax Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs)).
- Keep some investments inside RRSP, move assets into RRIF, use this money for pension income tax credit (if still available) after mid-60s.
I’m taking some time this year to learn more about RRIFs to help my parents make some decisions. As I get older and my understanding about taxes and investments matures hopefully this knowledge can apply to us.
Do you have plans to use a RRIF in retirement? Are you using a RRIF now? If so, how?