RRSPs RRIFs and TFSAs -> Withholding tax on RRIF and RRSP withdrawals
What Tax is Deducted From RRIF or RRSP Withdrawals?
Although Regulation s. 103(4) refers to payments by an employer to an employee, as noted by David Sherman in his Practitioners' Income Tax Act, "almost any payor and payee are “employer” and “employee” as defined in Reg. 100(1) (see Reg. 100(1) “remuneration”)". The parts of 103(4) that define the withholding rate are 103(4)(a)(iii), (b)(iii), and (c)(iii), except for Quebec which uses (i) instead of (iii).
Net Withdrawal Will Be After Tax
The withholding tax must be deducted from the "payment", so this means that the amount net of tax must be transferred out of the account. The tax cannot be paid after the transfer of the withdrawal, it must be deducted as part of the withdrawal transaction. This means that if an in kind withdrawal of securities is done, there must be sufficient cash in the registered account to pay the withholding tax.
Example: In kind withdrawal of securities, with a taxable withdrawal amount of $20,000. The withholding tax is 30%, or $6,000. This means that only $14,000 of securities can be withdrawn. If the goal is to have $20,000 of securities withdrawn, then the taxable amount would have to be $28,571, made up of $20,000 of securities and $8,571 ( 30% of $28,571) of withholding tax.
Tax Withheld is Like a Tax Instalment
The withholding tax amounts deducted from your withdrawals are only estimates of what you will owe in taxes. The amounts withheld will show on your tax return as taxes already remitted, just like an income tax instalment. The withdrawal amount will be included in your taxable income. Your total taxable income will determine the total taxes payable. This may result in more or less taxes being payable.
When a lump sum amount is withdrawn from an RRSP, the amount of tax that will be withheld is:
(1) For a single withdrawal from RRSP funds held in the province of Quebec, there will be 15% provincial income tax withheld, in addition to the above 5%, 10% or 15% federal tax withheld. See Revenue Quebec's Payments from an RRSP. a VRSP, a PRPP or a RRIF.
Note that for non-residents of Canada, the withholding tax rate is 25%, but can be reduced by a tax treaty.
When an individual makes a single request for more than one withdrawal, in the form of instalments, it is Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) position that the withholding tax rate should be based on the total of these withdrawals. When a RRIF annuitant receives monthly instalment payments and makes a series of requests for additional withdrawals in a short period of time, it is the CRA position that the withholding tax rate should be based on the total of additional withdrawals. They also indicate that payers should use their discretion in determining the rate. For further information on this topic, see the CRA document Withholding tax on payments from a RRIF (link at bottom). See also Question 14 from the 2003 RRSP/RRIF Consultation Session, Withholdings on Multiple Withdrawals. From that question:
There was also a 2008 consultation, and Q24 addressed the same topic, saying:
Question 24 Does the CRA have any plans to change the lump-sum withholding tax rates that apply to multiple withdrawals made over a short period of time, such as adding a threshold after which all withdrawals in the same year would be subject to the higher withholding rate?
Answer 24 No. We have no plans to change the calculation of how tax should be withheld in respect of multiple withdrawals from an RRSP or a RRIF over a short period of time. The information about tax withholding at the end of the answer to question 7, Withholding tax on payments from a RRIF (link at bottom) continues to apply.
No tax is withheld when the minimum amount is withdrawn from a RRIF. When withdrawals in excess of the minimum amount are made, the above RRSP lump sum withholding tax rates apply, but only to the excess over the minimum amount. For further information on this topic, see the CRA document Withholding tax on payments from a RRIF (link at bottom). For Quebec, the amount withheld from a single payment from a RRIF will be 16% of the amount exceeding the minimum amount.
Note re 2020 reduced minimum withdrawal: In 2020, tax was only withheld from withdrawals that were in excess of the original unreduced minimum amount. See Economic Statement - New Measure for Annuitants of Registered Retirement Income Funds.
The withdrawal from the RRIF is included in the taxpayer's taxable income, so depending on the individual's circumstances, tax may be payable when the tax return is filed.
The minimum withdrawal amount was waived in 2007 for RRIF owners who turned 70 or 71 in 2007, and in 2008 for RRIF owners who turned 71 in 2008. However, withdrawals up to the normal minimum withdrawal amount were still not subject to withholding tax.
There may be fees charged by your brokerage or financial institution when a withdrawal is made from an RRSP or RRIF. These fees are not tax deductible. This applies if they are paid by the RRSP or RRIF or from a non-registered account.
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Revised: August 30, 2021
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