How much can I contribute to my RRSP?

By Sheryl Smolkin

To contribute to the Saskatchewan Pension Plan you must have Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contribution room.  Therefore it is important to understand what “RRSP contribution room” means and how is it calculated.

Your RRSP contribution room is the amount of RRSP contributions you can deduct for income tax purposes in a particular year. For 2012, RRSP contribution room will be the 2012 RRSP deduction limit appearing on the notice of assessment (or reassessment) you receive once you have filed your 2011 income tax return and it has been processed.

The RRSP deduction limit for each year is the lesser of:

  • 18 per cent of your previous year’s earned income,* and
  • The RRSP dollar limit for the year ($22,970 for 2012).

*Earned income is the annual total of:  employment income, net rental income, net income from self-employment, royalties, research grants, alimony or maintenance payments, disability payments from CPP or QPP and supplementary UIC payments.

However, if you belong to a workplace registered pension plan (RPP), your annual RRSP contribution room will be reduced by a Pension Adjustment (PA) representing the value of both employer and employee RPP contributions.

If you do not use up your RRSP contribution room in any year, it is added to the next year’s RRSP contribution room and carried forward indefinitely. When certain kinds of income are transferred to your RRSP such as a retiring allowance or an amount received from a deceased spouse’s RRSP, contribution room is not required.

If you want to calculate your 2012 RRSP deduction limit, use Chart 3 on the Canada Revenue Agency’s website.

The maximum annual contribution you can make to the Saskatchewan Pension Plan is $2,500, even if you have additional RRSP contribution room. You can also transfer an additional $10,000/year from another RRSP to the Saskatchewan Pension Plan.

Since you have already used up RRSP room when you made the original RRSP contribution, you will not need additional RRSP contribution room to make an RRSP/SPP transfer of up to $10,000 each year.

Also read:

RRSPs and other registered plans for retirement

RRSP contribution limits

Frequently asked questions: RSPs

April 2012 returns

SPP posted a return of -0.41% to the balanced fund (BF) and 0.042% to the short-term fund (STF). The year to date return in the BF is 4.51% and in the STF is 0.109%.

Market index returns for April 2012 were:

Index April 2012 return (%)
S&P/TSX Composite (Canadian equities) -0.60
S&P 500 (C$) (US equities) -1.77
MSCI EAFE (C$)
(Non-north American equities)
-3.09
DEX Universe Bond (Canadian bonds) 0.13
DEX 91 day T-bill 0.05

May contest: Get to know SPP

Thank you to everyone who entered the April contest. The winner will be contacted via email.

Get to know SPP by entering our contest on this blog.

All you have to do is answer one simple question about SPP and your name will be entered for a chance to win one of the following books:

The Wealthy Barber Returns by David Chilton

Retirement’s Harsh New Realities by Gordon Pape

Count on Yourself by Alison Griffiths

The Worried Boomer by Derek Foster

Or a $20 gift card.

There are 3 separate contests (March, April and May) each with a different question. Answer the question and enter for your chance to win by clicking here!

You can even get additional chances to win by telling a friend about the contest.

Please check out the contest today!

FAQ: INVESTMENT CHOICE

Q. What investment options does the Saskatchewan Pension Plan offer?

A. Saskatchewan Pension Plan (SPP) offers its members two investment choices:

  • The balanced fund (BF)
  • The short-term fund (STF).

Members are permitted, but not required, to choose how to direct their contributions in the Plan’s funds. The default fund is the BF – if a member does not give us directions, contributions are deposited to the BF.

Q. What are the objectives of the balanced fund?

The objective of the BF is capital accumulation – growing member accounts to provide them with retirement income in a prudent, risk-controlled manner.

The BF diversifies investments between several asset classes including bonds, equities, real estate and short-term investments. As a further diversification tool, the assets of this fund are divided between two investment managers.

Q. What are the objectives of the short-term fund?

The objective of the STF is capital preservation. Therefore, the money is invested in one asset class – Canadian money market instruments. The STF benchmark is the DEX 91-day T-bill Index. This fund operates on a cost-recovery basis.

STF returns will likely be lower than the BF as the objective is to preserve account balances rather than provide long-term growth.

Q. Which fund should you choose?

A. To answer this question you have to gauge what level of risk you’re willing to accept in a given investment. Factors that will influence this include your investment goals and your retirement timeline. Here are some questions and statements to consider when choosing between the BF and STF:

Balanced Fund Short-Term Fund
Is my main investment goal to seek higher returns and build up the value of my account significantly? Is my main investment goal to make sure I preserve the money I already have in my account?
Do I prefer a mixed portfolio of stocks, bonds, and short-term investments? Am I willing to accept a smaller return in exchange for less investment risk?
How long do I have until I retire? How long do I have until I retire?
If my pension plan takes an unexpected loss, do I have enough time to recover from it before I retire? If my pension plan takes an unexpected loss, do I have only a short amount of time to recover from it before I retire?
Am I comfortable with risk in my portfolio? Do I need more certainty in my portfolio?
Can I tolerate a moderate short-term loss and remain focussed on my long-term goals? Will a moderate short-term loss seriously jeopardize my future plans?
“I’m a long-term investor who can comfortably tolerate a moderate level of risk and can accept a short-term loss along the road to long-term gains.My goal is to steadily increase my account balance through consistently investing in a balanced portfolio over a long period of time.” “I’m a short-term investor who can willingly trade the opportunity for higher earnings for a less risky investment. My goal is to guard my money and keep my account intact. I am less concerned about earning a high rate of return.”

It’s a good practice to re-visit these questions periodically when monitoring your investments to ensure that you are still matched with the correct fund. If any of your answers to these questions change, consider whether you want to remain in the fund, or whether a switch would be more suitable. You may wish to seek the guidance of a financial professional for assistance in making your decisions.