Understanding Tax Implications of RESP Withdrawals

According to the most recent data from Statistics Canada, the average tuition fees for undergraduate programs in Canada increased by 4.4% in 2021/2022. Tuition fees for international students have also increased, with an average of $29,714 per year for undergraduate programs. Therefore, saving for a child’s post-secondary education is a key priority for many Canadian families. The Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is a valuable tool that offers tax advantages and helps parents and guardians accumulate funds for educational expenses. However, it’s crucial to understand the tax implications associated with RESP withdrawals.

Planning for Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) withdrawals requires careful consideration to optimize tax implications and overall savings. In this article, we will explore the key factors to consider when planning RESP withdrawals and provide insights into choosing the withdrawal strategy based on your personal situation:

Below are the scenarios where taxation may apply:

  1. Educational Assistance Payments (EAPs): One common scenario where taxation comes into play is when funds are withdrawn as EAPs to cover eligible educational expenses. EAPs consist of the accumulated income and grants within the RESP. While contributions are tax-free, EAPs are considered taxable income for the student. It’s important to plan ahead and assess the potential tax impact when determining the amount to withdraw as EAPs.
  2. Accumulated Income Payments (AIPs): If there are funds remaining in an RESP after all eligible EAPs have been paid out, they can be withdrawn as AIPs. AIPs represent the income earned within the RESP, including investment gains and earnings on grants. Similar to EAPs, AIPs are subject to taxation in the hands of the student. It’s crucial to factor in the tax implications of AIPs when deciding on the withdrawal strategy.
  3. Non-Qualified Withdrawals: Withdrawals made from an RESP for purposes other than eligible educational expenses are considered non-qualified withdrawals. These withdrawals are subject to taxation, and there may be additional penalties imposed. The income portion of the non-qualified withdrawal is taxed at the student’s marginal tax rate, while a 20% penalty tax is applied to the grant portion. It’s essential to avoid non-qualified withdrawals to minimize unnecessary tax liabilities.

It’s important for individuals and families to understand the taxation rules and guidelines related to RESPs. The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) provides detailed information and resources on its website, and consulting with a tax professional can help ensure compliance with the tax obligations associated with RESP withdrawals

Choosing the Right Withdrawal Strategy:

The most suitable withdrawal strategy depends on individual circumstances. Here are some key factors to consider:

a) Timing and Duration of Education: If a student plans to pursue multiple years of education, it may be advantageous to spread out the withdrawals over the course of their studies. This approach allows for better tax planning, as the student can potentially take advantage of lower income tax brackets during their educational journey.

b) Income and Tax Bracket: Consider the student’s income and marginal tax rate when deciding on the withdrawal amount. Staying within a lower tax bracket can help minimize the tax impact. Careful planning can involve assessing other sources of income, such as part-time employment or scholarships, to optimize the withdrawal strategy and minimize taxes.

c) Government Grants and Contributions: RESPs benefit from government grants, such as the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) and the Canada Learning Bond (CLB), which provide additional funds for education. Understanding the tax implications of grants and contributions is vital. Grants are considered taxable income in the hands of the student, while contributions are not taxable. Carefully managing the withdrawal of grants and contributions can help minimize the tax burden.


RESPs are an excellent tool for saving for a child’s education, but it’s crucial to consider the tax implications associated with withdrawals. Being aware of instances when taxation may apply, such as EAPs, AIPs, and non-qualified withdrawals, empowers individuals to make informed decisions. By considering factors such as timing, income, and government grants, one can choose the most suitable withdrawal strategy. Remember, seeking guidance from a tax professional is essential to navigate the complexities of RESP withdrawals and optimize tax efficiency.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

FAQ 1: What happens if I withdraw more than I need for education expenses?

If you withdraw more funds from an RESP than necessary for education expenses, the excess amount will be subject to taxation. It is recommended to plan withdrawals carefully to avoid unnecessary tax liabilities.

FAQ 2: Can RESP withdrawals be used for expenses other than tuition?

Yes, RESP withdrawals can be used for various eligible educational expenses beyond tuition fees. These expenses may include textbooks, accommodation, transportation, and other education-related costs.

FAQ 3: Is there a penalty for withdrawing from an RESP early?

There is no penalty for withdrawing funds from an RESP; however, taxation and additional penalties may apply if the withdrawals are considered non-qualified, meaning they are not used for eligible educational expenses.

FAQ 4: How can I minimize the tax impact of RESP withdrawals?

To minimize the tax impact of RESP withdrawals, it is essential to plan strategically. This involves considering factors such as timing, income, and government grants, as well as seeking advice from a tax professional to optimize tax efficiency.

FAQ 5: Can I transfer an RESP to another beneficiary?

Yes, it is possible to transfer an RESP to another beneficiary, such as a sibling, if the original beneficiary does not pursue post-secondary education. Transferring the RESP helps to preserve the accumulated funds and maintain the tax advantages associated with the plan.

Additional Resources

Here are some additional resources that can provide further information and guidance on Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) and the tax implications associated with RESP withdrawals:

  1. Government of Canada – Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs): The official website of the Government of Canada provides comprehensive information on RESPs, including eligibility, contributions, grants, and withdrawals. Visit the website for detailed information on tax rules and guidelines related to RESPs: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/student-financial-aid/education-savings/resp.html
  2. Wealth Solutions Hub – RESP Withdrawal Strategies: 5 Different Scenarios: The article offers a comprehensive guide to RESP withdrawals, providing readers with valuable insights and practical tips to make informed choices. Whether you’re a parent, guardian, or student, this resource is an essential read to maximize your educational savings and navigate the intricacies of RESP withdrawals effectively. The following link will bring you directly to the article:https://www.wealthsolutionshub.com/everything-finance/-withdrawal
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John Ventresca
John Ventresca
1 year ago

the blog offers a concise and informative overview of RESP withdrawals that includes tax implications. Its a great resource for anyone looking for clear guidance on withdrawing from a RESP

1 year ago

Valuable insights about RESP withdrawals that every parent should know for smarter education planning

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