RRSP contributions can be a great tool to help manage your income taxes before and after retirement. They can also be a great tool to help manage your government benefits in a similar way. RRSP contributions affect government benefits like the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), Ontario Child Benefit (OCB), Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), GST/HST Credit, Ontario Sales Tax Credit etc etc.
What many people may not realize is that most government benefits have a “claw back” rate that acts like a tax rate. If you earn more income the “clawback” rate will reduce your government benefits. But the opposite also happens, if you make an RRSP contribution and your income goes down, then this “clawback” rate will work in reverse and it will increase your government benefits!
There are a couple situations where RRSP contributions can have a BIG effect on government benefits. Let’s take a look at two real life examples.
One example is a senior who is receiving GIS benefits. We’re going to plan some strategic RRSP contributions to help them maximize their GIS benefits. This is counter-intuitive, we’re always told that TFSAs are best for low-income individuals, but in this case we can use RRSP contributions strategically to maximize GIS.
The second example is a young family with three children. They’re receiving the Canada Child Benefit and the Ontario Child Benefit and we’re going to plan some strategic RRSP contributions to help them maximize their family benefits.
One of the biggest financial planning opportunities for regular people is around government benefits. Unless you’re earning an extremely high income you will probably receive some form of government benefit over the course of your life.
As a student, you may receive GST/HST credits. When you have a family, you may receive the Canada Child Benefit. And when you’re a senior you may receive Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
Understanding how government benefits work can help you optimize how much you receive both now and in the future. A few simple changes can increase your benefits by $1,000’s per year and help you save more, increase your financial security, and general increase your peace of mind.
Some families may be doing this already, but not realize it. Other families may not be doing it at all, and losing $1,000’s.
Most benefits are based on your net income and most benefits have claw back rates associated with them. As your income increases, your benefit will go down based on this claw back rate. But not all income is created equal, and some types of saving will increase your benefits.
One of the best ways to optimize your benefits is by carefully planning RRSP contributions. RRSP contributions decrease your family net income and increase your benefits. This increase in benefits can provide a big incentive to save. Depending on the number of children, for some families, the increase in benefits from an RRSP contribution is worth more than the tax refund! In total, some families can get back $0.60-$0.70 for each $1 they contribute to RRSPs.
On the other side, when you’re ready to withdrawal from your RRSPs, these withdrawals need to be carefully planned. RRSP withdrawals increase family net income and can potentially trigger claw backs on GIS and OAS. With claw backs on GIS reaching up to 75% it’s important to plan RRSP withdrawals carefully to avoid losing 50%-75% of every $1 you withdraw from RRSPs in retirement.
If you’re earning a normal/average income understanding government benefits can potentially provide a big boost to your long-term financial security. Ignoring government benefits can make things unnecessarily difficult.
The majority of people choose to start CPP as early as possible. In fact, over 9 out of 10 people choose to start CPP at or before the age of 65. This means that the majority of people aren’t using CPP strategically to reduce risk in retirement.
The way CPP works means that it can be a great tool to help absorb inflation rate risk and investment risk in retirement. But many people choose to ignore these benefits (or aren’t aware of them in the first place) and simply start CPP as soon as possible.
One common strategy we’ll review in this post (but not the only strategy) is to delay CPP to age 70. By delaying CPP by 10-years the payments are over 200% higher than at age 60. There is a 0.6% increase for each month of delay between age 60 and age 65. Plus, there is a 0.7% increase for each month of delay between age 65 and age 70.
Delaying CPP to age 70 is a great way to reduce risk in retirement but it’s not necessarily the best decision in all situations. There are a few other CPP strategies we can use to help reduce risk in retirement if faced with certain circumstances. This could include low investment returns, negative investment returns, or high inflation.
Rather than start CPP at age 60, or delay CPP to age 70, we can choose to start CPP at different times depending on the circumstances. This flexibility can help us decrease risk in retirement and provide more flexibility.
There are four CPP strategies we can use to help decrease risk in retirement. The first, delaying CPP to age 70, is relatively well known, but the other three strategies we’ll cover in this post are unique and can be used if faced with certain circumstances between age 60 and age 70. This provides a retiree with some flexibility to optimize their CPP start date depending on the circumstances at the time.
The Guaranteed Income Supplement is a government benefit program focused on low-income retirees. It is based on income and is available to low-income Old Age Security (OAS) recipients. It is a non-taxable benefit meant to protect seniors from low levels of retirement income.
The GIS benefit provides income support to over 2.1 million retirees. It provides support to nearly 1 in 3 seniors in Canada. In a given year the Guaranteed Income Supplement will provide over $13 billion in benefits!
GIS is one of the most generous benefits in Canada and because of this it also comes with some extremely high “clawback” rates. GIS benefits get reduced as household income increases. This reduction is called a “clawback” rate because it “claws back” benefits from higher income households. At a certain income level, depending on the household situation, all benefits will be clawed back.
This “clawback” rate is important because it can reach 50% to 75%. This makes low-income retirement planning an important consideration. Not all income triggers the GIS clawback so it’s important to understand where retirement income is coming from and how GIS will be affected. With the average GIS recipient only receiving 54% of the maximum these clawbacks have a big impact.
In this post we’ll review what the Guaranteed Income Supplement is, how it works, how much you could receive, and how the GIS “clawback” works. We’ll also cover some common types of retirement income and how they can affect GIS benefits.
The Canada Child Benefit is one of the most generous government benefits in Canada and it just increased! Unlike many government benefits, the Canada Child Benefit is available to low, moderate, and also some high income families.
The amount you receive from the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) depends on a few factors, one is the taxable net income for the family (line 23600 on your tax return), another is the number of children in the family, and the final factor is the age of each child.
The Canada Child Benefit is an “income tested” government benefit. The higher your taxable net income is, the lower your Canada Child Benefit will be. For some high income families, at a certain level of income the Canada Child Benefit will be reduced to $0. Anyone with income above that income level will not receive any benefit. The tricky thing is that this income level is different depending on the number of children and their ages.
The Canada Child Benefit also changes every year. New benefits start in July and are based on prior years tax return (the first payment of the updated benefit is July 20th).
The Canada Child Benefit also increases with inflation. The new 2020 Canada Child Benefit has increased by 1.9% versus 2019.
So how much Canada Child Benefit can you expect in July? We’ve got a table below that shows the Canada Child Benefit based on family taxable net income (line 23600) in $10,000 increments, so you can figure out generally how much you can expect in July
What are OAS clawbacks? How can you avoid them? How impactful are OAS clawbacks in retirement?
The typical retiree will receive an OAS benefit of $7,362 per year (in 2020) and over the course of a 30-year retirement would receive payments of $220,860 (in today’s dollars). That is a significant amount of retirement income!
OAS clawbacks can reduce this income all the way to zero. OAS clawbacks are 15% of net income, so they can have a big influence on a retirement plan. Experiencing full OAS clawbacks would mean that a retiree needs to make up this income on their own through extra investment assets. This may require hundreds of thousands in extra investment assets.
Avoiding OAS clawbacks is an important part of retirement planning. We’d like to avoid these clawbacks if possible. Through various strategies we can reduce or eliminate these clawbacks in retirement. This can be very beneficial to a retiree.
There are a few strategies that can help retirees avoid OAS clawbacks. Which strategy makes sense will depend on the retirees sources of income and their financial assets. In this post we’ve got 7 strategies to consider if you want to avoid OAS clawbacks in retirement.
But first, what is an OAS clawback?