Retirement Resource Centre - Keys to a tax-efficient retirement - RBC Global Asset Management

Keys to a tax-efficient retirement

Tip: start with the least flexible income sources first


An effective tax plan is a crucial part of planning for retirement and can help you make the most of your financial resources. It’s always important to consider the amount of after-tax income you’ll earn. As the saying goes, “it’s not what you earn, it’s what you keep.”

Most retirees draw income from multiple sources and each source may be taxed differently. For this reason, a good tax plan is important because it can have a significant impact on the after-tax dollars you’ll have to spend in retirement.

Tax-efficient withdrawal strategies

A tax-efficient withdrawal strategy considers the tax impact on your potential income sources. It’s important to think about which assets to use now and which to use later. Of course, these decisions will depend on your circumstances because each retirement situation is unique.

Tip: start with the least flexible income sources first, like CPP, OAS or pension plans.

Drawing income in the right order to maximize tax efficiency

Age 60-71
Government benefits
Distributions from non-registered accounts
RSP or capital from non-registered accounts*
Age 71+
Government benefits
Locked-in accounts
Minimum RIF withdrawal
Distributions from non-registered accounts
RIF or capital from non-registered accounts*

*Order dependent on individual tax circumstances and types of investments held.

The reason for using government benefits and pensions first is that you have little control once you reach retirement age over how much you’ll receive from these sources and they are taxed as earned income. That means there aren’t any tax-reducing opportunities with this type of income.

Granted, you can decide when to begin taking government benefits, but your decision will definitely have an impact on your retirement income. Payments from government retirement benefits are lower the earlier you start, but the extra years of payments should make up for the difference. If you’re less worried about cash flow at the start of your retirement, you may think about taking CPP later. The benefit? Each year you defer you’ll be able to collect more.

People often underestimate the impact that taxes can have on their income. And they may not understand that different sources of income are taxed differently. Choosing investments, accounts and income sources that benefit from favourable tax treatment can help you keep more cash in your pocket.​​​​​​​

Make sure you’re getting the most out of retirement – talk to your financial advisor how to make ​​​​​​​your plan more ​​​​​​​tax efficient.

This information has been provided by RBC Global Asset Management Inc. (RBC GAM) and is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide legal, accounting, tax, investment, financial or other advice and such information should not be relied upon for providing such advice. The information contained herein is from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Please consult your advisor and read the prospectus or Fund Facts document before investing. There may be commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses associated with mutual fund investments. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated. RBC Funds, BlueBay Funds and PH&N Funds are offered by RBC Global Asset Management Inc. and distributed through authorized dealers.

® / ™ Trademark(s) of Royal Bank of Canada. Used under licence. © RBC Global Asset Management Inc. 2017

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