Prescribed Registered Retirement Income Fund

Saskatchewan Pension Plan Q+As

January 11, 2018

We have previously blogged about Why you should join SPP and 10 things you need to know about SPP. But joining a pension plan is a serious decision so before you make a commitment, you need answers to as many questions as possible.

Therefore this week we present a series of SPP FAQs (frequently asked questions) that will clarify a number of nuances about the program you may not yet be aware of.

Q: What is the difference between SPP and an RRSP?
A: SPP follows the same income tax rules as an RRSP except that SPP is locked in. Under tax rules contributions to SPP can be used as repayments to the Home Buyers Plan (HBP) and the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP). However withdrawals are not permitted for this purpose.

Q: How much money can I contribute each year?
A: SPP regulations limit contributions to $6,000/year. Even though the SPP limit is $6,000, there is the potential to have tax receipts totaling greater than $12,000 for a tax year. For example, if you make two $6,000 contributions in the first 60 days of the year, one for 2017 and one for 2018, you will receive tax receipts totaling $12,000 to report on your 2017 tax return.

Q: How do I allow my tax program to accept more than $6,000 in SPP contributions?
A: All tax receipts received for the remainder of 2017 and first 60 days of 2018 must be entered for the 2017 tax year. Some tax programs will not allow more than $6,000 of Saskatchewan Pension Plan (SPP) contributions to be claimed even though members are eligible to claim the full amount made.

Therefore, it is important to always review your income tax return before filing, specifically line 208 of the T1 General, to ensure the full deduction expected is being made. If the full deduction required is not shown on line 208 you will need to make sure that you record your SPP contribution tax receipts the same way you would record a regular RRSP contribution tax receipt. In most programs this means you need to designate your SPP contribution as an RRSP; in other words, do not indicate you have made an SPP contribution.

Q: How much can I transfer in from another registered plan?
A: You can transfer up to $10,000 in cash per calendar year into your SPP account from existing RRSPs, RRIFs and unlocked RPPs. Funds transferred to SPP are subject to all SPP rules including the locking in provision. This means your transferred funds become part of your SPP account and can only be accessed when you choose a retirement option. Since these are direct transfers between plans, there are no tax implications.

Q: How can I convert my SPP savings into retirement income?
A: If having a stable income for the rest of your life is important to you then an annuity from SPP may be an appropriate choice. If maintaining control of investment decisions is important, then a Prescribed Registered Retirement Income Fund (PRRIF) or a Locked-in Retirement Account with another financial institution could be an appropriate alternative for you.

You also have the option to choose a combination of the annuity and PRRIF option.  At retirement time, if you have a pension benefit of $23.29 or less per month, you may choose to take your money out in cash less a 10% withholding tax (sent to Canada Revenue Agency) or transfer your account into an RRSP.

Q: Who will invest my money?
A: SPP has independent, professional money managers. The funds are invested in a diversified portfolio of high quality investments to ensure a competitive rate of return. Your investments are monitored regularly. Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel Inc. and Greystone Managed Investments Inc. are the Plan investment managers.

Further FAQs can be found here.  Additional information is available from the SPP website  or by contacting SPP at info@saskpension.com, 1-306-463-5410 (call collect) or 1-800-667-7153 (out of province, in Canada).

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Written by Sheryl Smolkin
Sheryl Smolkin LLB., LLM is a retired pension lawyer and President of Sheryl Smolkin & Associates Ltd. For over a decade, she has enjoyed a successful encore career as a freelance writer specializing in retirement, employee benefits and workplace issues. Sheryl and her husband Joel are empty-nesters, residing in Toronto with their cockapoo Rufus.

Why you should join SPP

January 19, 2017

By Sheryl Smolkin

It’s registered retirement savings plan season again and media ads from financial institutions encouraging you to open a plan and invest in their products are running 24/7. But you are really not sure whether you should opt to save your hard-earned money in the Saskatchewan Pension Plan, an RRSP or a tax-free savings plan.

There is not a single answer that will meet the needs of every individual or their family. You may opt to split your savings among the three types of plans in order to meet different savings objectives. But the fact is that SPP is the ONLY one of these three types of registered plans that has a single purpose:

“To help you save money exclusively for retirement.

You can withdraw money from your RRSP and pay the taxes in your year of withdrawal, but when you do take money out, that contribution room is totally lost to you. You can also take money out of your TFSA and your contribution room is restored the following year. However, every time you withdraw money you interrupt the tax-free growth of your contributions plus investment earnings.

SPP is a locked-in pension plan which means your account must stay with the Plan until you are at least 55 years old. In the event of your death, the money in your account will be paid to your beneficiary. Within six months of joining SPP, you can withdraw your contributions if you decide that you do not wish to participate in the Plan. After six months, the funds are locked in.

SPP follows the same income tax rules as an RRSP except that SPP is locked in. Under tax rules contributions to SPP can be used as repayments to the Home Buyers Plan (HBP) and the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP). However SPP withdrawals are not permitted for this purpose. A taxpayer can designate all or part of the contribution as a repayment on Schedule 7 and file it with their tax return. SPP does not track repayments to the HBP.

The plan is designed to be very flexible and to accommodate your individual financial circumstances. Even contributing $10 per month will build your SPP account and provide you with additional pension at retirement. The maximum contribution is $2,500 per year subject to available RRSP room and there is no minimum contribution.

Transfers into SPP from RRSPs and unlocked RPPs of up to $10,000 a year are also allowed and spousal contributions are permitted. Contributions you make to a spouse or common-law partner’s account reduce your RRSP deduction limit. The total amount you can deduct for a given tax year cannot be more than your RRSP deduction limit. Contribution and PAC forms have a section to designate contributions for spousal deduction.

Between the ages of 55 and 71 when you opt to retire, one of the options available is to transfer to the amount in your SPP account to either a Prescribed Registered Retirement Income Fund (PRRIF) or a Locked-in Retirement account (LIRA) with another financial institution.

You can also select an annuity option. The amount of your monthly payment will depend on which annuity option you choose, your age at retirement, your account balance, and the interest and annuity rates in effect when you retire. SPP can provide a personal pension estimate for you if you call the toll-free line at 1-800-667-7153.

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It’s been six years since I started working with SPP and wrote my first article about the plan. I joined SPP and have transferred $10,000 in every year since. According to my June 2016 statement I had $80,140.74 in my account. By the time I am 71, I hope to have a total of about $150,000 in the plan. I like the low fees (1% a year or less) and that my money is professionally managed.

In five years I intend to purchase a joint and survivor annuity to provide a guaranteed monthly payment for my husband’s and my lifetime. This stream of income will provide further income security as we age in addition to our other pension income.

We also have other registered and unregistered savings which we can use for a variety of purposes including funding an estate for our children. But I’m pleased that that over a 30 year period the average SPP balanced fund return has been 8.10% and as of the end of November 2016, balanced fund YTD returns were 5.29%.

If you want to fund a pension that will be there when you need it most, check out SPP or top up your SPP savings. Then allocate the balance of your savings for next year to other available accounts.

You will be glad you did. After all, no one wants to put all their eggs in one basket!


What is a prescribed RRIF?

March 12, 2015

By Sheryl Smolkin

If you are a member of the Saskatchewan Pension Plan you can elect to retire any time between the age of 55 and 71. You can purchase an annuity from the plan which will pay you an income for the rest of your life.

You can also transfer your SPP account into a locked-in retirement account (LIRA) or a prescribed registered retirement investment account (prescribed RRIF). Both options are subject to a transfer fee.

LIRA

The LIRA is a locked-in RRSP. It acts as a holding account so there is no immediate income paid from the account. You direct the investments and funds in this option and funds remain tax sheltered until converted to a life annuity or transferred to a prescribed RRIF. You choose where the funds are invested.

The LIRA is only available until the end of the year in which you turn 71. One advantage of a LIRA is that it allows you to defer purchase of an annuity with all or part of your account balance until rates are more favourable.

Prescribed RRIF

You must be eligible to commence your pension (55 for SPP) to transfer locked-in pension money to a prescribed RRIF. If you are transferring money directly from a pension plan, the earliest age at which your pension can commence is established by the rules of the plan.

You may transfer money from a LIRA at the earlier of age 55 (SPP) or the early retirement age established by the plan where the money originated. Funds in your SPP account or your LIRA at age 71 that have not been used to purchase an annuity must be transferred into a prescribed RRIF.

Unlike an annuity, a prescribed RRIF does not pay you a regular amount every month. However, the Canada Revenue Agency requires you to start withdrawing a minimum amount, beginning in the year after the plan is set up.

The Income Tax Act permits you to use your age or the age of your spouse in determining the minimum withdrawal. This is a one-time decision made with the prescribed RRIF is established. Using the age of the younger person will reduce the minimum required withdrawal.

To determine the minimum annual withdrawal required, multiply the value of your prescribed RRIF as at January 1 by the rate that corresponds to your age:

Table 1: Prescribed RRIF + RRIF minimum Withdrawals

Age at January 1 Rate (%) Age at January 1 Rate (%)
50 2.50 73 7.59
51 2.56 74 7.71
52 2.63 75 7.85
53 2.70 76 7.99
54 2.78 77 8.15
55 2.86 78 8.33
56 2.94 79 8.53
57 3.03 80 8.75
58 3.13 81 8.99
59 3.23 82 9.27
60 3.33 83 9.58
61 3.45 84 9.93
62 3.57 85 10.33
63 3.70 86 10.79
64 3.85 87 11.33
65 4.00 88 11.96
66 4.17 89 12.71
67 4.35 90 13.62
68 4.55 91 14.73
69 4.76 92 16.12
70 5.00 93 17.92
71 7.38 94 and beyond 20.00
72 7.48
For revised RRIF withdrawal schedule based on 2015 Federal Budget, see Minimum Withdrawal Factors for Registered Retirement Income Funds.

There is no maximum annual withdrawal and you can withdraw all the funds in one lump sum. This is in contrast to other pension benefits jurisdictions such as Ontario and British Columbia where locked-in funds not used to purchase an annuity must be transferred to a Life Income Fund at age 71 that has both minimum (federal) and maximum (provincial) withdrawal rules.

The same LIRA and prescribed RRIF transfer options apply to Saskatchewan residents who are members of any other registered pension plan (DC or defined benefit) where funds are locked in.

RRSP/RRIF transfers

If you have saved in a personal or group registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) your account balance can be transferred into a RRIF (as opposed to a prescribed RRIF) at any time and must be transferred into a RRIF no later than the end of the year you turn 71 if you do not take the balance in cash or purchase an annuity.

The minimum withdrawal rules are the same as those of a prescribed RRIF (see Table 1). However, even in provinces like Ontario and British Columbia where provincial pension standards legislation establishes a maximum amount that can be withdrawn from RRIF-like transfer vehicles for locked in pension funds (LIFs), there is no cap on the annual amount that can be taken out of a RRIF.

Also read: RRIF Rules Need Updating: C.D. Howe