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10 Acronyms to Know at Tax Time

RRSP, TFSA and RESP won't win you many points in Scrabble, but they certainly pay off come tax time! Although they're well-known, they aren't always put to best use. And don't forget LIRAs, LIFs and LLPs. Do you know when and how to use them? Just imagine placing a "z" on a triple-point score.

Angela Iermierifootnote *, a financial planner with Desjardins, has outlined 10 products behind these acronyms and how getting to know them could pay off for you.

So, which product should you use when...

1. You want to put money aside, tax-free?

TFSA: Tax-Free Savings Account

More than a savings account, a TFSA allows you to put money away tax-free, while respecting your annual contribution limit. All Canadians 18 and over can contribute to a TFSA. Contributions are not tax deductible and withdrawals aren't taxable. These accounts are great for short-, medium- and long-term goals.

You might like: What You Need to Know About TFSAsNOTE - This link will open in a new tab.

2. You want to maintain your lifestyle during retirement?

RRSP: Registered Retirement Savings Plan

An RRSP allows you to build your retirement savingsNOTE - This link will open in a new tab. while enjoying tax deductions on your contributions. Annual contributions are based on your income (18% of your previous year's income) and contribution limits are cumulative if you aren't able to set aside the maximum each year.

You're also allowed to make a contribution in your spouse's name. In addition, RRSPs give you access to programs such as the Home Buyers Plan (HBP) and the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP).

You might like: 8 common questions about RRSPsNOTE - This link will open in a new tab.

3. You're thinking about buying your first home?

HB: Home Buyers Plan

This government program allows you to withdraw up to $25,000 from your RRSP, tax free, to purchase your first home. You'll have 15 years to pay that amount back to your RRSP, in amounts equivalent to 1/15 of the withdrawal per year. If you aren't able to make an annual payment, the amount will be added to your taxable income.

4. You're turning 71 this year?

RRIF: Registered Retirement Income Fund

You'll have to convert your RRSP to a RRIFNOTE - This link will open in a new tab. no later than the year in which you turn 71. Once you've opened an RRIF, you withdraw a minimum monthly amount, depending on your age. Withdrawals are taxable and are added to your income for the year. To keep your savings growing until you retire, you can often invest the funds in products that are eligible for RRSPs.

5. You want to reduce your children's financial burden during their post-secondary studies?

RESP: Registered Education Savings Plan

An RESP lets you put money aside for your children's post-secondary educationNOTE - This link will open in a new tab. while opening the door to government grants. Contributions grow tax-free.

If you don't think you can afford to invest in an RESP, there's also financial assistance for students from low-income familiesNOTE - This link will open in a new tab..

6. You're leaving your job and don't want to leave anything behind?

LIRA: Locked-In Retirement Account

If your employer has a pension plan, you can transfer your balance into a LIRA when you leave your job. There are restrictions on funds placed in a LIRA in terms of when a withdrawal can be made and how much. You decide how to invest the funds to keep them growing. No additional deposits are allowed. To make a withdrawal, you'll have to transfer the funds into a Life Income Fund.

7. You're ready to convert your LIRA?

LIF: Life Income Fund

A LIF is an extension of your LIRA and a locked-in account. But it's the next step in turning your funds into retirement income that you can withdraw. You'll be given an annual minimum and maximum limit for this fund based on your age and the amount held.

You might like: When to convert your LIRA?NOTE - This link will open in a new tab.

8. You want to go back to school?

LLP: Lifelong Learning Plan

The LLP is another government program tied in with RRSPs. It allows you to finance your studiesNOTE - This link will open in a new tab. by withdrawing up to $20,000 from your RRSP, tax-free. You'll have up to 10 years to put the money back in to your RRSP, by making payments of 1/10 of the withdrawal amount per year. If you aren't able to make an annual payment, the amount will be added to your taxable income.

9. You want to ensure the long-term financial security of a person with disabilities

RDSP: Registered Disability Savings Plan

The government offers generous subsidies and depending on your family income, you may also be eligible for a Canada Disability Savings Bond without having to make a contribution.

10. You're a business owner or a corporate executive?

IPP: Individual Pension Plan

An IPP is a defined benefit plan that can be set up for business owners or corporate executives. Contributions are higher than those authorized for an RRSP and can be shared between the participant and the company.

  1. *Financial Planner and Mutual Funds Representative for Desjardins Financial Services Firm Inc.

The author

Angela Iermieri

Angela Iermieri

Financial Planner at Desjardins Wealth Management
Angela Iermieri is a spokesperson for Desjardins Wealth Management and a financial planner (Desjardins Financial Services Firm). With over 20 years of experience in the field, she’s also a financial planning and personal finance expert. She has over 20 years of experience in finance. She shares her expertise and educates people on personal finance by writing articles in various internal and external publications, and by putting together This link will open in a new tab. informational videos.