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Tax Attribution Rules

Spousal RRSP withdrawals and the attribution rule

If money is withdrawn from a spousal RRSP or RRIF in the same year the contribution was made or within the following two calendar years, the income received will be attributed to the spouse who made the contribution, not the owner. Many people get caught by this simple attribution rule. To avoid income having to be reported by the contributor instead of the owner/annuitant, verify how much time has passed since the final contribution to SRRSPs. We generally suggest that you check the status of all SRRSPs before making any withdrawals.

It is important to point out that the attribution rules are not applicable in the event of divorce, or if either spouse becomes a non-resident of Canada or dies. The rules are also not applicable if the owner commences minimum payments from a Registered Retirement Income Fund (RRIF). Therefore, if the owner/annuitant of a spousal RRSP converts to a RRIF and commences income on a minimum RRIF payment stream, there is no attribution of the income to the contributor.