top of page

How to avoid OAS clawbacks and other tax traps in retirement

Old Age Security (OAS) clawbacks might not be top of mind for many planning their retirement, but they can have a significant impact on one’s finances in later years. According to Statistics Canada, over 500,000 seniors, accounting for 8.3% of total OAS recipients, have experienced this clawback from the government.

Officially termed the Old Age Security pension recovery tax, this clawback comes into effect when a recipient's annual taxable income surpasses a certain threshold. For the year 2024, this threshold sits at $90,997, though it varies annually.

Once your income breaches this threshold, you're obligated to repay a portion of your OAS pension, with the amount determined by a formula set by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The more your income exceeds the threshold, the greater the clawback.

Contributing excessively to your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) or witnessing unexpected growth in these investments are common triggers for OAS clawbacks. Furthermore, by age 71, your RRSP must be converted to a registered retirement income fund (RRIF), subjecting you to mandatory minimum withdrawals that may be taxed at a high rate if the fund remains substantial.

However, there are strategies to sidestep OAS clawbacks and mitigate tax burdens in retirement, particularly when action is taken early on:

  • Maximize TFSA Contributions: Consider diverting retirement contributions to a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA). While contributions aren't tax-deductible like RRSPs, withdrawals are tax-free, offering flexibility in managing taxable income in retirement.

  • Utilize Non-Registered Trading Accounts: If RRSP and TFSA limits are reached, explore investing through non-registered trading accounts. While tax advantages are less favorable, capital gains are only 50% taxable, with potential offsets from capital losses.

  • Income Splitting: Married couples, especially those over 65, can benefit from income splitting, redistributing income between spouses to reduce overall tax liabilities. Spousal RRSPs allow higher-income partners to contribute to the lower-earning spouse's retirement fund, optimizing tax deductions.

  • Strategic Drawdowns: Consider more aggressive drawdowns in early retirement to manage RRSP and RRIF balances efficiently. Although this may result in higher immediate taxes, it can minimize future tax burdens, especially if surplus funds are reinvested in tax-efficient vehicles like the TFSA.

  • Early Retirement: Sometimes, the most tax-efficient solution is early retirement, particularly if RRSP balances exceed expectations. While reducing income may mean forgoing potential earnings, the benefits of additional leisure time can outweigh the tax savings.

Planning for retirement involves more than just accumulating wealth; it requires strategic tax management to maximize income and minimize liabilities. By employing these strategies early in life, retirees can navigate OAS clawbacks and other tax traps, ensuring financial security in their golden years.

1 view


  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube
  • TikTok
Email Support Photos_Square.png
bottom of page