Definitions for Registered Education Savings Plans

Additional tax

You calculate this tax separately, using Form T1172, Additional Tax on Accumulated Income Payments from RESPs. Include a completed copy of Form T1172 with your income tax and benefit return for the year you receive the AIP. You have to pay the additional tax by the balance due date for your regular tax, usually April 30 of the year that follows the year in which you received the AIP.

Common-law partner

This applies to a person who is not your spouse, with whom you are living in a conjugal relationship, and to whom at least one of the following situations applies. He or she:

  1. has been living with you in a conjugal relationship, and this current relationship has lasted at least 12 continuous months;
    In this definition, 12 continuous months includes any period you were separated for less than 90 days because of a breakdown in the relationship.
  2. is the parent of your child by birth or adoption; or
  3. has custody and control of your child (or had custody and control immediately before the child turned 19 years of age) and your child is wholly dependent on that person for support.
Family plan

Family plans are the only RESP that allow subscribers to name more than one beneficiary. Each beneficiary must be connected by blood relationship or adoption to each living subscriber or have been so tied to a deceased original subscriber.

A beneficiary under a family plan entered into after 1998, must be less than 21 years of age at the time he or she is named as a beneficiary. When one family plan is transferred to another, a beneficiary who is 21 years of age or older can still be named a beneficiary to the new RESP.

Post-secondary educational institution

A post-secondary educational institute includes:

  • a university, college, or other designated educational institution in Canada;
  • an educational institution in Canada certified by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) as offering non-credit courses that develop or improve skills in an occupation; and
  • a university, college, or other educational institution outside Canada that has courses at the post-secondary school level, as long as the student is enrolled in a course that lasts at least 13 consecutive weeks.
Public primary caregiver

A public primary caregiver is one who receives a special allowance under the Children's Special Allowance Act and may be the department, agency or institution that cares for the beneficiary, or the public trustee or public curator of the province in which the beneficiary resides.


The promoter usually pays the contributions, and the income earned on those contributions, to the beneficiaries. The income earned is paid as educational assistance payments.

Qualifying educational program

A qualifying educational program is an educational program at post-secondary school level, that lasts at least three consecutive weeks, and that requires a student to spend no less than 10 hours per week on courses or work in the program.

RRSP deduction limit

The maximum amount you can deduct from contributions you made to your RRSPs or to your spouse's RRSP or common-law partner's RRSP for a year (excluding transfers to your RRSPs of certain types of qualifying income). The calculation is based, in part, on your earned income in the previous year. Pension adjustments (PAs), past service pension adjustments (PSPAs), pension adjustment reversals (PARs), and your unused RRSP deduction room at the end of the previous year are also used to calculate the limit.

Regular tax

This is the tax you calculate when you complete your income tax and benefit return. It is based on your total taxable income.

Specified educational program

A specified educational program is a program at post-secondary school level that lasts at least three consecutive weeks, and that requires a student to spend not less than 12 hours per-month on courses in the program.

Specified plan

A specified plan is essentially a single beneficiary RESP (non-family plan) under which the beneficiary is entitled to the disability tax credit for the beneficiary's tax year that includes the 31st anniversary of the plan. Furthermore, a specified plan cannot permit another individual to be designated as a beneficiary under the RESP at any time after the end of the year that includes the 35th anniversary of the plan.

In addition, no contributions (except transfers from another RESP) may be made to the plan at any time after the end of the year that includes the 35th anniversary of the plan, and the plan must be completed by the end of the year that includes the 40th anniversary of the plan.

Spousal or common-law partner RRSP

A spousal or common-law partner RRSP is a plan that was established to pay yourself income at maturity, but that your spouse or common-law partner contributes to.


A person to whom you are legally married.

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