Chapter 2 – 147.1 - Registered Pension Plans  

 

2.1 147.1(2) – Registration of the Plan

Under subsection 147.1(2) of the Act, the Minister will not register a pension plan unless these three conditions are satisfied:

  • An application for registration is made in a prescribed manner set out in section 8512 of the Regulations (T510, certified copies of plan text and other documents, including funding vehicle, and applicable by-laws and resolutions).
  • The plan complies with prescribed conditions for registration set out in subsection 8501(1) of the Regulations. If the plan is a grandfathered plan, it complies with section 8509 of the Regulations.
  • An application for registration of the plan has been made to the relevant provincial authority or OSFI, if required.

Under paragraph 147.1(2)(c) of the Act, the registration date of a pension plan submitted after 1991 is effective from the later of January 1 of the calendar year the application for registration is made in a prescribed manner by the administrator, or the day the plan began.

We may give special consideration for an earlier effective registration date where there is a transfer of assets between plans related to a buy/sell agreement for the ongoing pension coverage of the plan members. The plan administrator must give a detailed explanation for the delay and certify in writing that PAs have been reported for all years. Each request will be considered on its own set of facts.

Cross references:

Conditions for Registration – 8501(1)
Prescribed Conditions for Grandfathered Plans – 8509
Registration and Amendment – 8512
Pension Benefits Legislation – 8513
Newsletter No. 04-2R, Registered Pension Plan Applications – Processing an Incomplete Application

2.2 147.1(3) – Deemed Registration

A plan submitted for registration is considered to be a registered pension plan until a final determination is made, as long as the application for registration is made in a prescribed manner set out in section 8512 of the Regulations.

The plan will be considered registered by the latest of:

  • January 1 of the application year;
  • The date that the plan began; and
  • January 1, 1989.

The pension plan is not considered to be a registered pension plan for transfers of superannuation benefits under paragraph 60(j) of the Act, transfers to a spousal RRSP under paragraph 60(j.2), transfers under section 147.3, or purchases of RPP annuity contracts under section 147.4.

A transfer of funds from an RPP to a deemed-registered plan, or from a deemed-registered plan to an RPP, RRSP or DPSP, is prohibited. On the other hand, a transfer from an RRSP or DPSP to a deemed-registered plan is permitted.

If a transfer is made from an RPP to a pension plan that has not been formally registered, the funds lose their tax-sheltered status (tax withholding/income inclusion should have occurred). It is also questionable whether the transfer is a permissible contribution under paragraph 8502(b) of the Regulations and whether there is a right to an offsetting deduction. If the plan is registered, there are no consequences if it is based on the retroactive effective date allowed under paragraph 147.1(2)(c) of the Act.

If the registration of the plan is refused, the plan is considered never to have been registered. Therefore, it is not recommended to transfer funds from any registered vehicle to a pension plan that has not been formally registered because there is no mechanism in the Act or Regulations to return the funds to the registered vehicle where the pension plan’s registration was refused.

Cross reference:

Newsletter 04-2R, Registered Pension Plan Applications – Processing an Incomplete Application

2.3 147.1(4) – Acceptance of Amendments

Under subsection 147.1(4) of the Act, the Minister will not accept an amendment to an RPP unless:

  • The application for acceptance of the amendment is made in line with subsection 8512(2) of the Regulations within 60 days after the day on which the amendment is made;
  • The plan as amended complies with prescribed conditions for registration under subsection 8501(1) of the Regulations, and section 8509 of the Regulations for grandfathered plans; and
  • The amendment complies with the prescribed conditions of subsection 8511(1) of the Regulations (applies only if the accrued LRBs are increased by the amendment or, if the plan is a grandfathered plan, a bridge benefit is added or increased).

The amendment must be sent by registered mail according to subsection 8512(3) of the Regulations.

Cross references:

Conditions for Registration – 8501(1)
Conditions Applicable to Amendments – 8511(1)
Registration and Amendment – 8512

2.4 147.1(5) – Additional Conditions

Subsection 147.1(5) of the Act allows the Minister to impose reasonable conditions to RPPs, a class of such plans, or a particular RPP. The following publications are some examples of additional conditions imposed by the Minister under subsection 147.1(5):

Newsletter No. 95-LR, Quebec Simplified Pension Plans
Newsletter No. 98-1, Simplified Pension Plans
Newsletter No. 96-3, Flexible Pension Plans
Newsletter No. 93-2, Foreign Service Newsletter
Newsletter No. 00-1, Foreign Service Newsletter Update
Newsletter No. 21-1 Additional Conditions Applicable to Individual Pension Plans and Designated Plans 

2.5 147.1(6) – Administrator

Whoever has ultimate responsibility for administering the plan is the administrator. The administrator could be the employer, a board of trustees, a consulting firm, an insurance company, or other.

The person who is the administrator, or the majority of persons who form the body that is the administrator, must be resident in Canada except as otherwise allowed in writing by the Minister.

2.5.1 Non-Resident Administrator

Consideration will be given to allow a non-resident to be the plan administrator. If the administrator of the plan is not resident in Canada, or where a body of persons is the administrator the majority of these persons live outside Canada, the administrator must confirm in writing that they can comply with all of the conditions required by the legislation including filing information returns, actuarial valuation reports, pension adjustments, past service pension adjustments, and pension adjustments reversals, as required.

The non-resident plan administrator, or persons who form the body that is the administrator, must also confirm in writing that they will keep and make available, upon request, the books and records for examination by the CRA, either by submitting them to a TSO or by assuming the travel costs of a CRA officer to the location of the books and records.

A letter of undertaking from the non-resident administrator confirming the above-mentioned requirements must be provided prior to our consideration for approval. You can also give the requested confirmation either on Form T510, Application to Register a Pension Plan, or on Form T920, Applications to Amend a Registered Pension Plan.

2.6 147.1(7) – Obligations of the Administrator

The administrator must administer the plan as registered. The administrator, or persons who form the body that is the administrator, must provide to the Minister the administrator(s) name(s) and address(es). This is initially provided on Form T510, Application to Register a Pension Plan.

The administrator must inform the Minister within 60 days of any change in the information provided.

Cross references:

Plan as Registered –147.1(15)
T920, Application to Amend a Registered Pension Plan
T2011, Registered Pension Plan Change of Information

2.7 147.1(8) – Pension Adjustment Limits

Subsection 147.1(8) of the Act limits the PA for a member of the plan relating to a participating employer to the lesser of:

  • The MP limit for the year; and
  • 18% of the member’s compensation from the employer for the year.

or

The total of:

  • The PA for the year of a member of the plan in respect of a participating employer; and
  • The total of all amounts of the member’s PA for the year in respect of an employer who, at any time in the year, does not deal at arm’s length with a participating employer.

is more than the MP limit for the year.

Plan text:
The PA limits do not have to be stated in a DB plan; however, from the information provided, it must not appear that the PAs would be excessive. For plans with an MP provision, including AVC accounts, a reference to the PA limits is required.

Paragraph 11 of Information Circular 72-13R8 capped certain contributions to the lesser of $3,500 and 20% of remuneration. Any reference to 20% of remuneration that appears in a plan beyond the year 1990 must be removed, even if the plan caps contributions to the PA limits.

Grandfathering:
Grandfathered plans do not have to follow the PA limits until 1992 unless they have an MP provision for which contributions were made in 1991. If the plan has an MP provision, the PA limit is effective beginning in 1991 unless the CRA receives certification from the plan administrator that no contributions were made to the MP provision in 1991.

MEPs and SMEPs:
The PA limits under subsection 147.1(8) of the Act do not apply to MEPs including SMEPs. See subsection 147.1(9) for the PA limits for MEPs (excluding SMEPs) and subsection 8510(7) of the Regulations for SMEPs.

Cross reference:

PA Limits – Revocable Plan – 8501(1)(e)

2.8 147.1(9) – Pension Adjustment Limits – Multi-Employer Plans

The PA limits for a MEP applies within the plan itself. There is no cross-plan element.

There are two tests that must be met for each employee. The first is that the total of the member's pension credits for each participating employer can’t exceed the lesser of the MP limit and 18% of the member’s compensation. The second is that the total of the member's pension credits for all participating employers can’t exceed the MP limit.

SMEPs are not subject to the PA limits of subsection 147.1(9) of the Act.

Plan text:
The CRA must be satisfied from the plan text and from other information provided that both tests will be met.

Cross references:

PA Limits – Revocable Plan – 8501(1)(e)
Multi-Employer Plan (MEP) definition – 8500(1)
Specified Multi-Employer Plan (SMEP) definition – 8510(2)

2.9 147.1(10) – Past Service Benefits

Subsection 147.1(10) of the Act imposes the limits that apply to a DB provision in respect of past service. This subsection does not allow for the payment or funding of past service benefits unless certain conditions are met.

Where the member is alive, paragraph 147.1(10)(a) of the Act requires that the Minister certify in writing that the prescribed conditions under subsection 8307(2) of the Regulations are met before there can be any payment or funding of the past service benefits. Certification will generally be granted where the provisional PSPA calculated in connection with the past service event does not exceed the member’s unused RRSP deduction room plus $8000. Subsection 8306(1) of the Regulations exempts certain past service events from the certification requirements. The Minister is considered to have given the certification, as it applies to past service contributions, as long as the application for certification has been made and the Minister has not refused to give the certification (that is, while an application for certification is pending).

Under paragraph 147.1(10)(b) of the Act, where the member died before the past service benefits could be funded or paid, and the past service event happened before the member’s death, subparagraph 147.1(10)(b)(i) of the Act allows the benefits to be funded or paid if they would have been payable right before the member’s death. In other words, as long as the benefits qualified under paragraph 147.1(10)(a) but the member passed away right before the benefits were funded, or paid to the member, the benefits could be funded or paid. Or the event, as it affects any death benefits is acceptable to the Minister under subparagraph 147.1(10)(b)(ii).

Paragraph 147.1(10)(c) of the Act applies where the past service event happens after the member's death and this event affects the death benefits payable, the event must be acceptable to the Minister.

However, if it looks like the past service event was postponed until after the death of the member because the member did not have enough RRSP room to allow PSPA certification, the event will not be considered acceptable to the Minister, and the payment of the associated benefits can’t be made.

Paragraph 147.1(10)(d) of the Act requires that no past service event that occurred before this particular past service event had to be disregarded under subsection 147.1(10).

Cross references:

Certifiable Past Service Event – 8300(1)
Provisional PSPA – 8303(3)
Normalized Pension – 8303(5)
Deemed Payment – 8303(7)
Modified PSPA Calculation – 8304(5)
Exemption from Certification – 8306
Application for Certification – 8307(1)
Prescribed Condition – 8307(2)
Qualifying Withdrawals – 8307(3)
Eligibility of Withdrawn Amount for Designation – 8307(4)
PSPA Withdrawals – 8307(5)
Special Rules – 8308
Obligation to Provide Individual with Copy of the Certification Form – 8404(3)
Association of Benefits with Time Periods – 8519

2.10 147.1(11) – Revocation of Registration – Notice of Intention

Subsection 147.1(11) of the Act sets out the situations that may lead to revocation, and allows the Minister to send a notice of intent to revoke to the plan administrator by registered mail. It also states the earliest specified date (proposed date of revocation) that may be used in the notice of intent to revoke.

Before the Minister sends out a letter of notice of intent to revoke, the CRA sends an administrative fairness letter setting out the reasons for possible revocation.

The plan administrator, or an employer participating in the plan, can appeal the notice of intent to revoke to the Federal Court of Appeal under paragraph 172(3)(f) of the Act.

Cross references:

Conditions for Registration – 8501(1)
Conditions Applicable to Registered Pension Plans – 8501(2)
Past Service Employer Contributions – 8503(15)
Non-Payment of Minimum Amount – Plan Revocable – 8506(4)
Member Contributions – 8515(9)

2.11 147.1(12) – Notice of Revocation

Subsection 147.1(12) of the Act gives the Minister the authority to revoke a plan's registration.

Revocation may be:

  • Voluntary, when the plan administrator applies in writing to the Minister to have the plan's registration revoked the Minister may give notice to the plan administrator that the registration is revoked. The effective date of revocation will not be earlier than the date of the administrator's application. However, the plan administrator should provide the reason for having the registration revoked and should be made aware of the consequences of revocation before the CRA proceeds to revoke.

or

  • Involuntary, when the Minister decides to revoke because of failure to comply with the registration rules, or one of the reasons listed in subsection 147.1(11) of the Act. Thirty days after sending the notice of intent to revoke, the Minister may give notice that the registration of the plan has been revoked. The notice of revocation is sent by registered mail to the plan administrator. The effective date of revocation will depend on the reason for the revocation. It is generally the date the plan failed to comply.

When a plan ceases to exist, registration ends with the plan. When the CRA receives advice that the plan is terminated for all purposes and has been fully disbursed, the CRA notifies the administrator that registration of the plan is terminated. This is not considered a voluntary revocation of the plan's registration.

Cross reference:

Revocation of Registration – Notice of Intention – 147.1(11)

2.12 147.1(13) – Revocation of Registration

The date of revocation is the date specified in the notice of revocation, unless during an appeal under subsection 172(3) of the Act, the Federal Court of Appeal orders another date.

2.13 147.1(14) – Anti-Avoidance – Multi-Employer Plans

If the Minister gives notice that this subsection applies to the administrators of 2 or more plans, then for the purposes of the PA limits in 147.1(9) of the Act, each of the plans that is a SMEP is deemed to be a MEP that is not a SMEP; therefore, the MEP PA limits would apply. In addition, the limits in paragraphs 147.1(9)(a) & (b) apply as if all of the plans were a single plan.

The plan administrator of any Quebec or Manitoba Simplified Pension Plans or any other non traditional MEP, will receive notice in their registration letter, that paragraph 147.1(14)(b) of the Act is applicable in relation to their plan and any other non-traditional MEP, with respect to this and all future calendar years, until further notice in writing is made.

If such a plan becomes a MEP at the time of an amendment, the notice will be included in our letter accepting the amendment.

The rationale for this decision is that it would be easy for an employer to participate in two or more of these plans as they are offered by financial institutions and are not employer sponsored.

If an employer participates, for the same employees, in more than one MEP, all the plans will be considered a single plan for the maximum PA limits of subsection 147.1(9) of the Act. If the limits are exceeded, there could be a return of contributions to avoid revocation.

Example
ABC Inc. is a participating employer in 3 Quebec simplified pension plans and contributes 10% of each member's earnings for the year to each plan. For a member earning $100,000 that year, there would be contributions of $10,000 to each plan for a total of $30,000. As the pension credit limit is tested for each MEP, the contributions for the member would not be more than the 18% of compensation or the MP limit for the year for each plan.

By applying subsection 147.1(14) of the Act, all three plans will be considered one plan for the test under subsection 147.1(9) and all plans will become revocable as the limits will be exceeded. A return of contributions to avoid revocation would then be the option available to the administrators.

Cross references:

Multi-Employer Plan Definition – 8500(1)
Specified Multi-Employer Plan Definition– 8510(2)
Newsletter No. 98-1, Simplified pension plans

2.14 147.1(15) – Plan as Registered

"Plan as registered" includes:

  • What we have on file as having been accepted;
  • Amendments received that are likely to be accepted; and
  • Terms, not in the plan text, but required by pension benefits legislation.

This definition applies for an administrator's obligation to administer the plan, revocation for failure to do so, and for contributions to an MP provision or a SMEP.

Cross references:

Obligation of Administrator – 147.1(7)
Failure to Administer Based on Plan as Registered – 147.1(11)(b)
Acceptance of Amendments – 147.1(4)
Pension Contributions Deductible – Employer Contributions – 147.2(1)
Registration and Amendments – 8512(1),(2), and (3)
Designated Laws - 8513

2.15 147.1(16) – Separate Liability for Obligations

When the plan administrator is a group of persons, under subsection 147.1(16) of the Act each person in the group is subject to all the obligations imposed on the administrator. Where the administrator fails to comply with an obligation, each person is liable for any penalties under the Act in respect of the failure.

2.16 147.1(17) – Superintendent of Financial Institutions

For the purposes of the Act, subsection 147.1(17) of the Act allows the Minister to seek advice on any matter related to pension plans from the Superintendent of Financial Institutions.

2.17 147.1(18) – Regulations

This section allows the Governor in Council to make various regulations relating to the registration of pension plans and the administration of registered pension plans.

2.18 147.1(19) – Reasonable error

Subsection 147.1(19) of the Act allows an RPP administrator to return amounts that were contributed to an RPP (on or after January 1, 2014) as result of a reasonable error. This amount must be paid to the contributor by December 31st of the year after the year in which the contribution was made.

Reasonable error means that the excess contribution arose because of a mistake and that the taxpayer (employer) did not intentionally over-contribute. It has to be an error that an impartial person would consider likely to occur based on a particular set of circumstances. Extraordinary circumstances that hadn’t happened before or that were beyond the taxpayer's (employer's) control, and that led to the excess contribution, would, in most cases, show that the excess contribution arose due to a reasonable error.

Subsection 147.1(19) of the Act is in addition to existing subparagraph 8502(d)(iii) of the Regulations that allows (without a time limit) a return of contributions from an RPP to avoid the revocation of plan registration.

Under subparagraph 56(1)(a)(i) of the Act, an amount paid from an RPP is generally included in the income of the recipient taxpayer. However, clause 56(1)(a)(i)(G) excludes RPP contributions returned under either subsection 147.1(19) of the Act, or subparagraph 8502(d)(iii) of the Regulations, from being included in a taxpayer’s income, as long as the amount is not deducted by the taxpayer for the year or a preceding year.

You do not need our approval before making a return of contributions that meets the conditions of either subsection 147.1(19) of the Act or subparagraph 8502(d)(iii) of the Regulations. In all other cases, the RPP administrator must write to us for our permission, explaining the basis of the request.

Please note that, under federal and provincial pension benefits standards legislation, an RPP administrator may need to get approval from the particular regulator to return contributions from an RPP.

Cross references:

Pension Benefits, Unemployment Insurance Benefits, etc. – 56(1)(a)
Amount of Employee’s Pension Contributions Deductible – 147.2(4)
Permissible Distributions – 8502(d)
Designated Laws – 8513

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