What is a Lira investment? Canadians Guide

April 13, 2022
What is a Lira investment? Canadians Guide

Planning ahead for retirement is an important key to financial security. It's an unavoidable fact that should be recognized regardless of where you are or what you do for a living. As a result, it is preferable for a person to put their money in a plan, which is a collection of funds that may be used in retirement. Canada's citizen retirement programs, such as LIRAs, are among the most extensive, diverse, and equitably dispersed retirement programs in the world.

Read: Investment Planning how to Prepare for your Future

If the acronyms do not really pique your interest, you may simply refer to them as "locked-in retirement accounts (LIRAs)." These are technically referred to as delayed retirement accounts.

In this article, we'll go over all you need to know about LIRAs in Canada.

What is a LIRA investment?

A locked retirement account (LIRA) is a form of Canadian pension fund which does not permit early retirement unless there are special circumstances. The locked retirement account is intended for an ex-plan member, surviving spouse, or former spouse, to keep pension benefits.

While the funds are locked, no withdrawals are permitted. Pension savings could be used to buy an annuity or moved to a Lifetime Income Fund (LIF) or perhaps a Locked Retirement Income Fund (LRIF) after being moved to a LIRA.

The LIF, life annuity, or LRIF pays a life pension to the fund's recipient after he or she reaches retirement age.

Key Note:

  • A locked retirement account(LIRA) is Canadian retirement savings account with money that cannot be withdrawn until the account owner reaches retirement age.
  • Locked retirement accounts are controlled by federal or provincial pension regulations and can be transferred to any other pension fund program or used to buy an annuity.

Read: How to do Investment Planning: Guide for Canadians

Understanding LIRA

A locked retirement account (LIRA) is a type of registered retirement savings account in Canada. When you terminate your membership in a pension plan and leave the employer that created that plan, you can go ahead and create a LIRA at any age to save assets transferred from that plan.

The locked retirement account was created with the intention of holding pension assets for a former partner, former plan member, or surviving spouse. The LIRA is dubbed "lock-in" since it does not allow you to earn income anytime you desire unlike the Canadian Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). It's all about saving money for either yourself or someone else until you die or retire.

Government requirements for LIRA

Federal or provincial pension laws control LIRA programs. There are different regulations for releasing blocked retirement funds, which depend on the province where the plan holder lives. Each blocked pension must adhere to the rules of the province or the federal government.

The funds in a LIRA can be transferred to another pension account by the owner.

Possible bankruptcy, low income, security deposit, first month's rent, eviction from a rental, short life expectancy, significant medical or disability bills, and permanent departure from Canada are all grounds to unlock a LIRA.

In some provinces as well as the federal level, unlocking 50percent of a LIRA may only be performed once if you are at least 55 years old. If the balance falls below a particular threshold, the little balance can be unlocked.

If the amount of money involved is significant, it is prudent to get advice from a financial expert.

When can you withdraw from LIRA?

You can change your LIRA into a LIF or annuity not earlier than 55 years of age, and yet not later than the end of the year you reach 71 years old.

The remaining of your LIRA is no longer locked after you die. It is either paid out to your spouse, or to your heir. If it's transferred to your spouse, they can deposit it in their own tax-free RRSP or RRIF.

You can also take money out of a LIRA if you meet the following criteria:

  • If a specialist certifies that you have a disease or physical condition that could reduce your life expectancy to less than 2 years;
  • You are in a financial crisis 
  • If you have not spent at least 2 years in Canada
  • You are at least 55 years old, and the overall value of all your locked-in accounts is not more than the 40 percent of your maximum pensionable earnings ("MPE") for the calendar year in which the withdrawal request is made.


What are the benefits of a LIRA?

  • It's an advantage to people who might be tempted to take cash before retirement age because LIRA monies are locked up.
  • Rather than relying on your previous employer to handle your LIRA assets, you can manage them yourself.
  • If the company you work for as an employee goes out of business, LIRAs reduce the danger of losing your retirement funds.

Locked-In Retirement Accounts (LIRAs) vs Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs)

A locked-in retirement account (sometimes known as a LIRA) is a Canadian investment account that holds a locked-in pension fund. Like most retirement accounts or similar plans, the LIRA is used to accumulate funds for use in retirement. The LIRA is governed and regulated by provincial governments, and it is used to support legislation in Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, Ontario, and New Brunswick. As the term implies, these accounts or plans are "locked-in"; account holders do not have the freedom to use them until they expire or meet requirements, usually when they retire or reach a certain age (depending on an agreement between the parties). If the Registered Pension Plan RRP membership of an employee is canceled for whatever reason before retirement, the accrued money must be moved to LIRA. The money is passed to the surviving spouse and then to the family if the policyholder dies before retirement. Lastly, if the marriage or common-law partnership ends because one of the partners has an RPP, the accrued money will be transferred to the LIRA, which will hold them until retirement.

Taxes on interest earned on the LIRA will be deferred until that point is drawn. Holders of LIRAs can opt to transfer money to other retirement income programs like LIF, LRIF, or RRIF when they reach retirement age (typically 55 in countries where LIRAs are utilized). If the holder reaches the age of 71 and has not converted it yet, it must be transferred before the year runs out. 

A Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) is yet another form of Canadian account. Introduced in 1957, the main objective of this scheme was to facilitate employees to accumulate funds before retirement age.  What types of assets are permitted for contributions when to contribute, maximum contributions, as well as how to turn it into a Retirement Income Fund (RIF) are all controlled by Canadian income tax policy. It is quite comparable to the LIRA discussed earlier. Group, spousal, and Individual plans are all available in RRSPs.

RRSPs are available and are governed by the Commonwealth of Canada.

The lira and the RRSP, on the other hand, have notable differences. Unlike the LIRA, RRSPs reduce the amount of tax the holder owes each year (rather than just deferring until the time of withdrawal) by spending a portion of an employee's income in Canadian-regulated lira. The reduction in income tax has been significantly reduced. Another major distinction is that, unlike the LIRA, the RRSP is "liquid" rather than "locked." This indicates that plan beneficiaries are not bound by the plan's expiration date. RRSP holders may choose to withdraw from the fund early to meet any demand that may arise (to the extent set out in the agreement at the time of plan launch).

One would be wise to invest in the LIRA or RRSP to prepare for the inevitable retirement. However, people should note what these differences are and which ones best suit their underlying needs and future plans.

What is the difference between LIRA and RRSP? A Summary:

  1. Locked-In Retirement Accounts (LIRAs) and Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs) are plans available for Canadian citizens to retire.
  2. LIRAs and RRSPs must be opened before age 71, at which point the funds will be transferred to the Retirement Income Fund (RIF). 
  3. RRSPs decrease the holder's income tax every year, but LIRAs only delay taxes until the withdrawals period.
  4. LIRA is "locked up"; holders cannot use the fund until the fund expires or encounters a specific event (such as the death of the holder). RRSPs, on the other hand, are liquid and allow holders to use their funds freely (within certain parameters); RRSPs are subject to federal jurisdiction.


Can you take money out of a LIRA account?

Early withdrawals from a LIRA are only permitted in extremely narrow circumstances, such as the threat of bankruptcy or eviction. Your LIRA is designed to be utilized in retirement, and the regulatory frameworks that govern it make early withdrawals difficult.

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