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Combine Spousal and Non-Spousal RRSPs or RRIFs
Income Tax Act s. 146(8.3), (8.5), (8.6), (16)
Many people have both a spousal and a non-spousal RRSP or RRIF. In many cases it would be more useful, and perhaps save some administration fees, if the two accounts could be combined into one.
Combined RRSP/RRIF is a Spousal RRSP/RRIF
The Income Tax Act allows a taxpayer to combine their spousal and non-spousal accounts (as long as the taxpayer is the annuitant of both accounts), but after the combination the account is a spousal RRSP or RRIF. Due to the attribution rules, you may not want to do this if:
Making Contributions to a Combined RRSP
Both the taxpayer and their spouse can still make contributions to this account. If the taxpayer makes contributions, it is very important that the financial institution is aware of the source of the funds, so that the contribution receipt indicates that it is a taxpayer contribution, and not a contribution by the spouse. The same is true when it is a spousal contribution - make sure the contribution receipt indicates that it is a spousal contribution. When done online, this is often done incorrectly!
Withdrawals From the Combined RRSP
The taxpayer can make withdrawals from this account without any income being attributed to the spouse, as long as the spouse has not made contributions to the account in the previous 3 years. If both the taxpayer and the spouse have made contributions in the past 3 years, any withdrawal will first be allocated to the income of the spouse, to the extent of the contributions made by the spouse.
Example of withdrawal from the new combined spousal RRSP:
In the year of withdrawal, $1,000 will be included in the income of the taxpayer's spouse. The entire amount of $3,000 will be included in the income of the taxpayer, but a deduction can be claimed for the $1,000 that is included in the spouse's income.
Combining Spousal and Non-Spousal RRIF
Income Tax Act s. 146.3(2)(e.1), (e.2)
In order to combine a spousal and non-spousal RRIF, the minimum annual withdrawal should already be done. If it is not done, the carrier of the fund is required to retain sufficient property in each of the old accounts to pay out the minimum amounts for the year.
Draft legislation was published for consultation on August 9, 2022 that amends s. 146.3(2)(e.1) and (e.2) to require a carrier to also retain sufficient property for the minimum amount in cases where property is transferred from a RRIF to a money purchase provision of an RPP, to an account under a PRPP, or to a specified pension plan (i.e., the Saskatchewan Pension Plan), in accordance with new subsection 146.3(14.1). S. 146.3(14.1) allows these transfers provided the annuitant was previously a member of the RPP.
Withdrawals From the Combined RRIF
Attribution For Withdrawals in Excess of the Minimum Withdrawal
There may be attribution of income to the contributing spouse for any RRIF withdrawals that are in excess of the minimum annual withdrawal for the year, depending on the amount of spousal contributions in the year or the two immediately preceding taxation years.
How to Combine Your Spousal and Non-Spousal RRSPs or RRIFs
To combine your spousal and non-spousal RRSPs (or RRIFs), you need to call your financial institution and ask them to do this for you. They may require some paperwork to be signed. Make sure you ask if there will be a fee for doing this.
Making an Online Spousal Contribution - Be Careful!
RRSPs and RRIFs - Attribution Rules
Canada Revenue Agency Resources
IT-307R4 Spousal or Common-Law Partners' Registered Retirement Savings Plans (Archived).
Form T2205 Amounts from a Spousal or Common-law Partner RRSP, RRIF or SPP to Include in Income
Tax Tip: Keep the spousal and non-spousal RRSPs separate if both spouses might contribute in the future.
Revised: May 17, 2023
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