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Insights & advice

How are RESPs taxed?

November 2022 – 15 min read

Key takeaways

  • Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP)Opens in a new window is an excellent way for you to save for your child’s post-secondary education.

  • One of the main benefits of an RESP is that it’s a tax-deferred savings plan, however, when it’s time to take the money out, there are some things to consider. 

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 Are contributions to an RESP tax deductible? 

Unlike a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP)Opens in a new window, your direct contributions to an RESPOpens in a new window are not tax-deductible. One of the benefits of an RESP is that the generated investment income (capital gains, dividends and interest) isn’t taxed while it remains in the plan. 

Are RESP withdrawals taxable? 

Once your child (the beneficiary) has completed high-school and enrolled in post-secondary education, you’re able to start making withdrawalsOpens in a new window to pay for things like tuition, accommodation and supplies.

If you withdraw government benefits like the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG)Opens in a new window or money that’s accumulated through interest on the account, this is known as Education Assistance Payment (EAP). Students who receive EAPs must claim it as income on their tax return.

Your RESP provider will send a T4A tax slip under the student’s name for these amount – however, since most students have little or no income, the withdrawal payments typically result in very little or no taxes. 

Will taxes be owing if the RESP is closed? 

There are several options if your child decides not to continue education after high schoolOpens in a new window - Opens in a new window. If you choose to close the RESP, you’ll have to pay tax on the money you earned in your plan as interest.

Earnings accumulated through the CESG must be returned to the Government of Canada, and therefore is not taxable income. 

When an RESP is closed, the remaining investment earnings can be paid out to you as an Accumulated Income Payment (AIP). These funds are considered income and are taxed at your marginal tax rate, plus an additional 20% penalty.

To avoid the 20% extra penalty and defer any income taxes, you may be able to move these funds to you or your spouse’s RRSP. 

The Government of CanadaOpens a new website in a new window - Opens in a new window provides more information.

The information provided is based on current laws, regulations and other rules applicable to Canadian residents. It is accurate to the best of our knowledge as of the date of publication. Rules and their interpretation may change, affecting the accuracy of the information. The information provided is general in nature, and should not be relied upon as a substitute for advice in any specific situation. For specific situations, advice should be obtained from the appropriate legal, accounting, tax or other professional advisors.