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1 LEAVING YOUR EMPLOYER SHOULD YOU COMMUTE YOUR PENSION PLAN? Mackenzie Tax & Estate Planning In past years when an individual changed employers, it was pretty much an accepted practice to leave their defined benefit pension plan with the original employer, knowing that a pension would be received in retirement. With the economic downturn, many pensions are either being discontinued, or may not have ample funding available to pay out all of the expected pension benefits. Many employees who are given the choice to commute or keep their existing pension are giving serious thought to commuting the pension. There are pros and cons to each alternative and therefore there is no one size fits all solution. Rather, the best decision will be based on the plan features and individual circumstances among other factors. This paper outlines some considerations you should discuss with your financial advisor before making a decision. SEPTEMBER

3 A x B This is the maximum transfer to a locked-in plan Where: A is the annual retirement benefit B is a present value factor (defined by the federal Income Tax Act) Let s look at an example: Bob is age 55 \$800,000 is commuted value of pension assets 35 years of service Married no dependents Monthly pension of \$41,000/year Jack is age 45 \$200,000 is commuted value of pension assets 23 years of service Married two dependents Monthly pension of \$30,000/year By commuting their pensions, Bob and Jack may have some taxdeferred assets that are transferable to a LIRA but will also likely have a portion that is taxable as income when it is paid out. How much can each employee shelter based on the formula above? 1. Bob is entitled to \$41,000/year and a Present Value (PV) Factor of 10.4 applies to him based on his age. Taking those factors into consideration the maximum value he can transfer to a LIRA is \$426,400. This is calculated as \$41,000 x 10.4 Bob has a commuted value of \$800,000 and \$426,400 of it can be transferred to a LIRA, as a result \$373,600 would be included in income and is taxable. Assuming a 46.4% tax rate he will pay income tax of \$173, Jack is entitled to \$30,000/year and a PV Factor of 9 applies to him based on his age. Taking that into consideration the maximum value he can transfer to a LIRA is \$270,000. This is calculated as \$30,000 x 9. Jack has a pension of \$200,000, as a result, based on the calculation above, the full commuted value of his pension can be transferred to the LIRA. Here are the Present Value Factors depending on age as outlined in the Canadian Income Tax Act: Age Present Value Factor Age Present Value Factor Under or over 3.0 Unlocking of Pension Money The LIRA can be converted to a LIF in most jurisdictions at age 55; an exception is Alberta where it can be converted at age 50, if it falls under pension legislation in Quebec or is federally regulated it can be converted at any age. It is important to note that some plans do not permit members to convert the plan to a LIF prior to age 55 even if the jurisdiction allows it. All jurisdictions except for Prince Edward Island allow a pension to be unlocked due to a shortened life expectancy. All jurisdictions except Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, allow someone who becomes a non-resident of Canada to unlock their pension. All jurisdictions allow a pension to be unlocked in the case of a small dollar balance. Each jurisdiction is slightly different so it is best to speak with your financial advisor to see what applies to your particular situation. 3

6 GENERAL INQUIRIES For all of your general inquiries and account information please call: ENGLISH BILINGUAL ASIAN INVESTOR SERVICES TTY FAX WEB mackenzieinvestments.com Find fund and account information online through Mackenzie Investments secure InvestorAccess. Visit mackenzieinvestments.com for more information. This should not be construed to be legal or tax advice, as each client s situation is different. Please consult your own legal and tax advisor TE1072 9/14

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