Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) Deduction

What Is a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) Deduction?

A Registered Retirement Savings Plan Deduction is the maximum amount that a Canadian taxpayer can annually contribute to a savings plan and deduct from that year's taxable income.

Generally, the amount is 18% of the taxpayer's earned income for the previous year, up to an annual limit. For the tax year 2021, the annual limit is C$27,830, and for 2022, it's C$29,210.

An individual's contribution limit can be determined by filling out Form T1028, which is available online.

Key Takeaways

  • An RRSP deduction is the maximum amount that a taxpayer can invest in a retirement account and deduct from that year's income tax.
  • Generally, the maximum is 18% of the previous year's earned income, with a cap that is revised annually.
  • Taxpayers can contribute less than the maximum, but it's in their best interest to take advantage of the highest tax break.

Understanding the RRSP Deduction

Anyone can contribute less than the allowable maximum. As this is a deduction from taxable income, it is in the taxpayer's best interest to save the maximum in order to minimize the amount of income that is subject to personal income tax.

A Canadian taxpayer can set up a registered retirement savings plan through a financial institution such as a bank, credit union, trust, or insurance company. The financial institution advises its customers on the types of RRSPs and the investments that are available.

Married people, in particular, have decisions to make. A Canadian government site notes that couples can set up a spousal or common-law partner RRSP in order to ensure that their retirement income is evenly split between both partners.

A self-directed RRSP allows an investor to make their own investment choices, buying and selling at will.

The greatest benefit is achieved if the higher-income partner contributes for the lower-income partner. In that case, the contributor will get the immediate benefit of the tax deduction for that year's contributions. But the annuitant, who is likely to be in a lower tax bracket during retirement, will receive the income and report it.

Other Choices

If you prefer to take charge of your own investments, you may want to set up a self-directed RRSP. This type of plan allows you to build and manage your investment portfolio by buying and selling various investments.

Generally, the money you invest in your RRSP account and the returns on that investment are tax-deferred until you cash it in, make a withdrawal, or receive a payment from the plan. In most cases, that should be after you retire.

Locked-In or Unlocked

RRSP plans may be either locked-in or not locked-in.

The locked-in retirement account, or LIRA, is similar to a company or government pension plan. Only the employer may contribute money to the account. Withdrawals before retirement are not permitted, and withdrawals after retirement are paid in regular installments, like an annuity. (Some provinces permit some hardship withdrawals.)

An unlocked plan permits withdrawals at any time, with the caveat that you'll owe the income taxes in that tax year.

In any case, RRSP contributions are made directly to the RRSP issuer.

Article Sources
Investopedia requires writers to use primary sources to support their work. These include white papers, government data, original reporting, and interviews with industry experts. We also reference original research from other reputable publishers where appropriate. You can learn more about the standards we follow in producing accurate, unbiased content in our editorial policy.
  1. Government of Canada. "RRSPs and Other Registered Plans for Retirement." Accessed Dec. 12, 2021.

  2. Government of Canada. "MP, DB, RRSP, DPSP, and TFSA Limits and the YMPE." Accessed Dec. 12, 2021.

  3. Government of Canada. "Making Withdrawals." Accessed Dec. 12, 2021.

Take the Next Step to Invest
The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Investopedia receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where listings appear. Investopedia does not include all offers available in the marketplace.