Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF)

A Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF) is an account to which RRSP balances can be transferred without being taxed at the time of transfer

  • registered with Canada Revenue Agency to receive retirement income
  • assets transferred from RRSPs intact and tax-free
    • proceeds from a locked-in RRSP (LIRA) go to a locked-in RRIF (LIF)
  • can transfer up to December 31 in the year of the planholder’s 69th (71st) birthday
  • RRIF earnings are tax-sheltered
  • can have multiple RRIFs, managed or self-directed


  • tax-free investment growth
  • assets transferred from RRSPs intact and tax-free
  • tax on growth deferred until income withdrawn (then taxed at the marginal tax rate)
  • tax-free switches (no deemed disposition)
  • tax-free transfer the spouse upon death, if spouse is the beneficiary
  • no maximum age for opening or closing plan


  • minimum withdrawal required each year (starting at age 71)
  • taxed on withdrawals
  • withholding tax on withdrawals above minimum required


  • mandated minimum annual withdrawals based on the age of the plan holder, or spouse if younger
    • can withdraw more → more flexible than an annuity
  • withholding tax applies on withdrawals above the minimum
  • minimum withdrawal also affected by
    • the date on which the RRIF was established
    • whether the plan was subsequently changed

Death of the Plan Holder (annuitant)

  • you (as the plan holder) are deemed to have received the fair market value of your RRIF just before death (deemed disposition)
  • RRIF proceeds are included in your terminal tax return
  • spouse = successor annuitant?
    • RRIF continues, income received is taxed in the hands of your spouse
  • spouse = sole beneficiary?
    • funds can be transferred to
      • RRSP, if spouse under age 71
      • RRIF → minimum annual withdrawals start in the following year
      • buy an annuity
  • beneficiary = financially dependent child or grandchild
    • financially dependent due to physical or mental infirmity
    • can defer paying tax on the transfer to RRSP, RRIF or qualified annuity
    • else, if child or grandchild is under 18, RRIF can be transferred to a term certain annuity that makes payments until age 18
Beneficiary RRSP RRIF Annuity
spouse yes (if under 71) yes yes
financially dependent (grand)child due to physical or mental infirmity yes yes yes
financially dependent (grand)child due to age < 18 no no yes (to age 18)
  • designated beneficiary gets RRIF balance on death of the plan holder
  • at death, planholder is deemed to have disposed of the RRIF at fair market value → taxed in the terminal return
  • if spouse is the successor annuitant, RRIF continues and spouse is taxed on income as received
  • if spouse or (grand)child financially dependent due to physical or mental infirmity is named sole beneficiary, RRIF funds can be transferred to RRSP, RRIF or used to buy an annuity
  • if (grand)child is dependent but not physically or mentally infirm, can buy an annuity with payments to age 18

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