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Last-Minute RRSP Planning: Deadline, Limits and More

Written by The Inspired Investor Team | Published on February 23, 2021

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This article was last updated in January 2024.

The deadline to contribute to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) for the current tax year is February 29, 2024 – in other words, just around the corner! (Pro tip: You can always check the Tax Season Centre for important dates and deadlines.)

Whether you've already got an RRSP, or you're looking to set one up, here's some helpful information to have on hand.

CONTRIBUTION DEADLINE

You have 60 days after the end of the year to make your RRSP contribution for the previous year. For the 2023 tax year, the deadline is February 29.

CONTRIBUTION LIMIT

The Government of Canada sets the annual contribution limit. You can check your specific contribution limit by visiting My Account for Individuals on the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) website.

Your maximum allowable RRSP contribution for the current tax year is generally 18 per cent of your previous year's earned income, up to the government maximum for the tax year ($30,780 for 2023), minus your previous year's pension adjustment. A pension adjustment reflects the value of the benefits and savings under an employer's registered pension plans and deferred profit sharing plans. Any unused deduction room at the end of the preceding year is also carried forward for your use in the year.

OVERCONTRIBUTIONS

The reason it's good to know your contribution limit is because there can be penalties if you go over it by more than $2,000. The penalty is based on the amount of the 'over contribution' and is 1 per cent per month on the excess amount.

OPENING AN RRSP

With a valid Social Insurance Number, you can open an RRSP up to the end of the year you turn 71. You must be a Canadian resident for tax purposes, file an income tax return in Canada and have earned income to contribute to an RRSP. (Note: At RBC Direct Investing, you must be the age of majority in your home province to open an RRSP.)

Click here to access the online application. It's a good idea to apply early if you want to meet the current contribution deadline, given the higher volumes experienced during RRSP season.

SPOUSAL RRSPS

A spousal RRSP is a registered retirement savings plan that names your spouse as the "annuitant" — or owner — of the plan, even though you might be making the contributions. The main objective of a spousal RRSP is to shift retirement income from the higher-income-earning spouse to the lower-income-earning spouse. Your ability to contribute to a spousal RRSP is based on your own contribution room. If, for example, you have $15,000 of RRSP contribution room available, you may contribute it to your personal RRSP, a Spousal RRSP, or a combination of both, as long as the combined total doesn't put you over the $15,000 limit. Find out more in What is a Spousal RRSP?

RRSP INVESTMENTS

Your RRSP can be built using different types of qualified investments, such as stocks, bonds, options, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), savings deposits, treasury bills and guaranteed investment certificates (GICs). Find out about qualified investments in Owning a Non-Qualified Investment Can Be Costly.

MORE RESOURCES

Find out more about RRSPs in Understanding RRSPsRRSP FAQs: Your Questions Answered and What Investments Can I Hold in My RRSP? (with video). Want to learn more about registered accounts? Check out Comparing TFSAs, RRSPs and RESPs or explore the Investing Academy.

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Furthermore, the products, services and securities referred to in this publication are only available in Canada and other jurisdictions where they may be legally offered for sale. If you are not currently a resident of Canada, you should not access the information available on the RBC Direct Investing Inc. website.

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