Senior Living: Future tax strategies

By | March 23, 2020

Today’s column looks at your future tax burden. Should you only take the minimum amount from your Registered Retirement Income Fund, RRIF?

Most retirees believe to reasonably reduce the taxation to their retirement income they should choose to take the minimum amount from their RRIF. That being said, if you die before withdrawing all the funds from your RRIF, you ultimately forfeit most of your investment savings to taxation, which for most Canadians would be at the highest marginal tax rate of 53.5 per cent.

Unless you can transfer your registered investment portfolio to a surviving spouse or dependent child, you will not be sheltered from estate taxes that will be due immediately upon your death.

We are continually inundated with the many ways to defer withdrawals from our RRIFs. Advisors encourage their clients to take the minimum required or suggest deferring withdrawals to a younger spouse.

Another common suggestion is for the older spouse to withdraw from their RRIF while the younger spouse continues to contribute to a RRSP to get the tax credit. Obviously, these strategies leave more money invested in your RRIF, resulting in the potential for more tax-sheltered growth, and a much larger portfolio.

It is necessary for clients to assess their investment situation annually and ensure they do not leave assets in their RRIF when they die. To lower annual taxation on withdrawals, those who are over 65 can split up to 50 per cent of their RRIF income with a spouse and both will still be entitled to the $ 2,000 pension tax credit.

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If you withdraw more funds from your registered account than needed for daily living, you can easily transfer specific assets “in kind” to another investment account without the sale of the investment. This is very beneficial if your invested assets are in a fund that you favour and do not want to dissolve.

Choose a TFSA or Non-Registered account to maintain your investment and continue growth. They say nothing is guaranteed more than “death and taxes,” so let’s make sure we pay less tax when the ultimate end comes around.

— Christine Ibbotson is the author of the bestselling Canadian book How To Retire Debt Free & Wealthy. She also writes the Moneylady column.

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