Can You Withdraw From Your RRSPs Before You Retire?

If you have a traditional RRSP, you might be wondering if it is possible to take money out of it for an emergency before you reach retirement age. The answer is “yes” – you can withdraw from your RRSP before you retire, but you will have to pay tax on it immediately. And the sad reality is the taxes might be much more than you would pay if you waited until you were retirement age. Also, if you withdraw money from your RRSP early, then you take the chance of permanently altering the original contribution room you had to save according to government guidelines.

What are the tax consequences of withdrawing from your RRSP ahead of time?

When you withdraw from your RRSPs before you actually retire, then the financial institution holding the funds is required to take an immediate tax and pay it to the government in your name. Depending on what the specific tax rate is, the amount you will pay will probably be somewhere between 10-30% and is determined by how much you withdraw. If you live in Quebec, you might get a slight break with the taxes only being between 5-15%, but there will also be a provincial tax amount held back.

Also, if you withdraw money from your retirement account early, then the amount that you take out is subject to being taxed. The money from your RRSP becomes “taxable income” – so in reality, you are taxed on the same money twice. Whether or not that will affect how much you owe on your taxes is related to your earnings and income situation. But before you take money from your RRSP, it is essential to understand whether it could put you in a higher tax bracket and end up costing you a whole lot.

What is the anti-avoidance rule?

In July of 2011, a new anti-avoidance rule went into effect to encourage people not to take money from their Assiniboine Credit Union RRSP accounts. The government decided that any money that you withdraw before retiring is considered income and taxed accordingly. The rule is that you are supposed to pay the amount of tax that equals the total amount of money that you gained at a rate of 100%.

What are the two reasons that withdrawing from your RRSP makes financial sense?

If you use it to buy your first home

The laws state that you and your spouse are both allowed to borrow as much as $25,000 out of your RRSP account if you are going to use it as a down payment on your first home. Under the Home Buyers’ Plan, if you use your RRSP money for a home purchase, then you don’t have to pay any taxes on it – as long as you pay it back within 15 years from when you borrow it.

If you use it to pay for training or education

If you or your spouse wants to use your RRSP for educational goals or to attend training, then you may both borrow up to $20,000 from your plan to pay for either part-time or full-time educational expenses under the LifeLong Learning Plan. The maximum you can withdraw in any one year is $10,000. If you do take out money to further your educational goals, it won’t be taxed as long as you pay it back within 10 years from when you borrow it.

If you find yourself in an emergency where you need money quickly, then you might want to really think twice about withdrawing money from your RRSP instead of trying to take out a loan. Sometimes, depending on the amount you withdraw and your income tax bracket, you might end up owing more than you think. If you use it for either a first-time home purchase or to further your education, then it might be a good idea. Just make sure that you pay it back in the time allotted, or you can end up being taxed on it twice – which can add up quickly.