A recent BMO study shows that the number of Canadians withdrawing money from their RRSP increased to 38% from 34% last year, and on average these Canadians are taking out larger sums of money.
The government requires RRSPs to be converted to a RRIF when a Canadian turns 71. After 71, withdrawals begin and they are taxed as income. Annual minimum withdrawal begins at 7.48% for those aged 71 and rise annually to a maximum of 20% for Canadians 94 and older.
Retirees often resort to tapping into RRIFs to access large sums. For some, RRIFS are viewed as their savings and emergency fund. For others, a RRIF withdrawal is their preferred solution over borrowing money, so that they can avoid monthly loan payments.
A RRIF withdrawal is a common solution, and the financial implications can be severe for seniors.
Let’s look at an example
Background: A retired widow living in B.C. has a modest pension income and only a little over $100,000 in her RRIF.
Goal: Financially help a family member by withdrawing $40,000 out of her RRIF.
Reality: Client discovers at her bank that she has an immediate withholding tax that she must pay because she is withdrawing from a registered investment. Because of this, she must take out an additional $12,000 to cover the withholding tax, which is considerably more than planned. In April, income taxes are due and the full amount of her RRIF withdrawal is added to her income, which increases her income considerably and moves her up a tax bracket. As we know, more income = more taxes. And now she owes an additional $18,000 in income taxes. Where would she find the money to pay her income taxes?
In addition, the savings she intended to use to support herself through retirement decreased substantially and won’t go as far for her as planned. Also, because of her decision to draw the excess amount from her RRIF, she experiences government clawbacks on her income pensions such as, Old Age Security (OAS), Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) and other benefits and she now has an increase in her quarterly tax installments. To make matters worse, she is no longer eligible for her provincial health care assistance, and is responsible for the full monthly premium payments herself.
By using her home equity with a reverse mortgage, her retirement savings could have been fully preserved. Income could have remained the same because funds from a reverse mortgage are tax-free and do not get added to her income. Best of all, there would have been no tax implications and she could have prevented her pension and her provincial health care assistance from being affected.
This is a true story.
We met this client when her $18,000 income tax bill was due. She was able to use her home and a reverse mortgage to help her in this situation.
Dominion Lending Centres mortgage brokers and advisors see it all the time.
Life events happen. If you know a retiree looking for a financial solution to help a family member or to cover sudden life expenses, recommend they take the time to consider the tax implications that an extra RRIF withdrawal may have on their financial situation.
Then the question really becomes: Which asset should I use? My RRIF or my home?
A reverse mortgage provides a tax-efficient solution, helps clients keep their savings to support retirement and requires no monthly payments (including interest payments).
If this client had a conversation with her DLC mortgage broker to consider all options, she would have been left in a much better financial position for years to come.