The Registered Plans Directorate RPP Glossary is provided for information purposes only as a plain language explanation for terms used in our forms and does not replace the law, either enacted or proposed. The information contained in the glossary at publication was, to our knowledge, accurate. Updates and amendments will be made to the glossary as needed to reflect changes in the legislation or interpretation.
(Démonstration de la règle de 50 %)
The rules covering connected persons require that for benefits to be provided for pre-1991 (pre-1992 for grandfathered plans) service, the conditions in IC72-13R8, Employees' Pension Plans, must be met. The present value of pre-1991 benefits provided for active members who are connected persons under all registered pension plans of the employer can't exceed 50% of the present value of pre-1991 benefits for all active members.
When improving or adding pre-1991 (pre-1992 for grandfathered plans) benefits for connected persons, a 50/50 demonstration must be provided based on active members as at the date the benefits are improved or added.
For more information, see IC72-13R8, Employees' Pension Plans.
An active member is one who is accruing benefits on a current service basis in a defined benefit provision or for whom employer-required contributions are being made, in relation to the year under a money purchase provision. See subsection 8500(1) of the Income Tax Regulations for the definition.
Additional voluntary contribution
Additional voluntary contribution (AVC) is defined in subsection 248(1) of the Income Tax Act as a contribution a member makes to the plan to purchase more retirement benefits under a money purchase provision.
For purposes of completing Form T510,Application to Register a Pension Plan, or Form T920, Application to Amend a Registered Pension Plan, we mean a stand-alone provision of a plan to which a member makes contributions without any impact on the benefits provided or the contributions made by his or her employer. An AVC does not include an amount contributed by a member for the purpose of causing a participating employer to increase benefits under a defined benefit provision or to contribute an additional amount on the member's behalf.
Example A: Under the terms of the plan, members are not required to make contributions. However, if a member elects to contribute to the plan, the employer will match that contribution, up to 5% of earnings. In this case, the employee contribution is not considered an AVC.
Example B: The plan provisions for a money purchase plan state that a member is required to contribute 2% of earnings and the participating employer will contribute the same amount. The plan also contains an AVC provision, which allows members to make AVCs in addition to their required contributions of 2% of earnings. If a member chooses to contribute an additional 1% of earnings (over and above the required member contribution of 2% of earnings), this additional 1% of earnings is considered an AVC.
Administrator is defined in subsections 147.1(1) and 147.1(6) of the Income Tax Act as the person or body of persons that has ultimate responsibility for the administration of the pension plan. The administrator must be resident in Canada or have received a waiver in writing from the Minister to allow it to be a non-resident administrator.
Ancillary benefits are benefits that are provided under a pension plan in addition to the lifetime retirement benefits that are provided to a member, and they therefore do not increase the member's pension adjustment. (Some examples are increased early retirement benefits, survivor benefits, and bridging benefits.)
(Lien de dépendance)
Arm's length describes a relationship between individuals, between individuals and corporations, and between corporations. Subsection 251(1) of the Income Tax Act describes individuals who are deemed not to be dealing at arm's length. Certain individuals connected by blood relationship, marriage, common-law partnership, or adoption are related persons (defined in subsection 251(2) of the Act) and are therefore deemed not to deal at arm's length. Individuals who own a corporation such that they have control of the corporation are considered not to deal at arm's length with the corporation. Corporations that are connected by ownership are also considered to be related. For more information, see section 251 of the Act and Income Tax Folio S1-F5-C1, Related persons and dealing at arm’s length.
An authorized representative of a corporation is an individual who has been granted the authority and responsibility to sign or make agreements in the relevant area by the corporation.
Benefit accrual rate
(Taux d'accumulation des prestations)
The annual benefit accrual rate in a defined benefit plan or provision is the rate at which the member's lifetime retirement benefits for the year are accumulated. This may be a percentage of the member's remuneration, a percentage of the member's contributions, or a flat dollar amount. The effective benefit accrual rate may not exceed 2% of a member's remuneration for the year. For more information, see paragraph 8503(3)(g) of the Income Tax Regulations.
(Formule de calcul des prestations)
A benefit formula in a defined benefit plan or provision is the manner in which the member's monthly/annual benefit is determined (for example, 2% of the average of the member's last 5 years of pensionable earnings times the number of years of pensionable service).
(Prestation de raccordement)
Bridging benefits paid to a plan member are benefits payable for a temporary period ending no later than a date known at the time payments start. They are usually paid from the time pension payments begin until the date the member starts to receive benefits from the Old Age Security program or the Canada Pension Plan or Quebec Pension Plan, or when the member reaches age 65. See subsection 8500(1) of the Income Tax Regulations for the definition.
Career average earnings
(Salaire moyen de carrière)
Defined benefit provisions come in various forms. A career average earnings provision is one where benefits are based on the member's earnings averaged over his or her entire period of service under the plan.
When it is not convenient or possible to submit original documents, copies of the documents that have been certified by the authorized representative will be accepted. The certification must contain original signatures or initials. Currently, the Registered Plans Directorate will also accept photocopies of certain original documents. For more information, see our Newsletter No. 04-2R, Registered Pension Plan Applications – Processing an Incomplete Application.
Plans that provide lifetime retirement benefits on both a defined benefit and a money purchase basis are considered combination plans. For purposes of completing Form T510, Application to Register a Pension Plan, and Form T920, Application to Amend a Registered Pension Plan, plans with a defined benefit provision that allow for additional voluntary contributions that provide lifetime retirement benefits are not considered combination plans.
Since the provisions must be able to stand alone, combination plans must contain all the relevant rules and conditions that apply to both types of provisions.
Compensation of an individual by an employer in a calendar year is defined in subsection 147.1(1) of the Income Tax Act for purposes of sections 147.1 to 147.3 of the Act. Compensation is defined to include all of the following:
an amount received with respect to the individual's employment with the employer;
an amount with respect to an office for which the individual is remunerated;
Plan administrators may include in the plan terms other definitions of amounts for purposes of the plan's operations (for example, the amount on which members' benefits are calculated), such as earnings, pensionable earnings, salary, or pensionable salary.
See also remuneration.
In general, for the purposes of registered pension plans, a person is connected with an employer (connected person) if the person does not deal at arm's length with the employer, is a specified shareholder of the employer by reason of paragraph (d) of the definition of specifiedshareholder in subsection 248(1) of the Income Tax Act, or holds, alone or in combination with someone they do not deal with at arm's length, 10% or more of the issued shares of any class of shares of the employer or related employer. See subsection 8500(3) of the Income Tax Regulations for the definition.
There are also special rules in the Act and the Regulations that govern the membership of connected persons in a registered pension plan as well as the filing requirements when a connected person joins a plan. A Form T1007, Connected Person Information Return, is required within 60 days after a connected person joins a pension plan or starts/restarts accruing lifetime retirement benefits under the plan.
A consultant or benefit consultant is a person or firm that provides advice and services to plan administrators regarding the creation, windup, and ongoing administration/funding of pension plans and other employee benefit programs.
In many plan texts continuous service is the period of plan membership that is used to determine eligibility for benefits. Pension benefit supervisory authorities may regulate this period of eligibility.
Continuous service may include periods that are not eligible service and, if so, these periods may not be used to calculate lifetime retirement benefits.
(Taux de cotisation)
A contribution rate is the rate at which employers and members contribute to a registered pension plan. In a money purchase (defined contribution) pension plan the rate determines the amount contributed to each member's account and is usually expressed in the plan text as a percentage of the member's compensation.
The Income Tax Act requires a minimum contribution rate on behalf of the employer for money purchase plans as well as a maximum combined contribution rate by employers and employees. Employees may or may not be required to contribute to the plan and may or may not have the opportunity to make additional voluntary contributions.
In a defined benefit provision, plan administrators have the option of making the provision contributory or non-contributory for employees. The Act provides for a maximum employee contribution rate for defined benefit provisions. The employer contribution rate is determined by the plan's actuary in accordance with subsection 147.2(2) of the Act.
A defined benefit plan may also allow for additional voluntary contributions to purchase more lifetime retirement benefits or ancillary benefits. The additional voluntary contributions are held in a money purchase provision, making the plan a combination plan.
A conversion occurs when benefit accruals cease under one provision of a plan and all assets in the provision are transferred to another provision in the same plan. The plan is partially terminated with respect to the provision from which the assets are transferred.
A full plan conversion takes place when the benefits of all plan members are converted. A partial plan conversion takes place when only the benefits for a particular group of employees (for example, a plant or a division) or the benefits of employees from one of the participating employers are converted.
A cost certificate is the signed document provided by an actuary to justify the funding of benefits provided under a defined benefit provision. A supplementary cost certificate is one submitted when additional funding is required between valuation dates pending the filing of a full actuarial valuation report.
To explain, defined benefit provisions promise a specific benefit to be paid in the future. The exact cost of the benefit is not known and plan administrators use actuaries to calculate the estimated present day cost of the future benefit. The actuaries provide the employers and administrators with their opinions and recommendations in an actuarial valuation report, which is used to secure approval to fund the plan from the Canada Revenue Agency and any relevant pension benefits supervisory authorities. If, between valuation reports, a plan is amended to add new benefits or to increase existing benefits, the actuary may issue a supplementary cost certificate based on the assumptions used in the most recent report.
Benefits in pension plans are earned in respect of service being provided by a member to the employer. Current service refers to service that is rendered on a present basis and does not include any service that is purchased on a retroactive basis. Money purchase provisions are designed to accept contributions determined from current service only, plus earnings on the balance in the member's account. Defined benefit provisions can allow for benefits to be provided based on current service and past service.
Deferred profit sharing plan
(Régime de participation différée aux bénéfices)
A deferred profit sharing plan is a deferred income plan that provides benefits to employees after they have terminated their employment and to which only the participating employers may contribute amounts (calculated by means of a formula that is based on profits). Funds must be paid out or transferred within 90 days of the member leaving either the employer or the plan and no later than the end of the year in which the employee turns 71.
A defined benefit provision or plan refers to the type of provision or plan under which benefits for each member are determined in any way other than that described in the definition of a money purchase provision or plan. For example, a defined benefit may be expressed as a flat amount per year of service or as a percentage of the average of the member's last five years of pensionable earnings times the number of years of pensionable service. See subsection 147.1(1) of the Income Tax Act for the definition.
See money purchase.
A delegated administrator is a person or firm to whom some of the duties of the pension plan administrator have been delegated. Delegated duties may include completing the Form T244, Registered Pension Plan Annual Information Return or completing and signing all forms on behalf of the plan administrator. A delegated administrator could notably be a trustee, an insurance company, a benefit consultant, or a specific individual. The ultimate responsibility for the administration of the plan remains with the plan administrator.
A registered pension plan that contains a defined benefit provision is generally a designated plan throughout a calendar year when:
it is not maintained pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement; and
the total of the pension credits of all specified individuals under all defined benefit provisions of the plan for the year is more than 50% of the total of the pension credits of all individuals under the defined benefit provisions of the plan for the year.
Section 8515 of the Income Tax Regulations defines designated plans and sets out the special rules that apply to them.
(Projet de demande (ébauche))
A draft submission is a preliminary version of all or part of a plan text. The Registered Plans Directorate will review draft versions of sections of, or entire plan texts that the submitter believes will be contentious.
Earnings is a term used to specify the portion of the member's compensation that is used for plan purposes and is usually defined in the plan text. Terms such as "pensionable earnings," "salary," and "pensionable salary" may also be defined in the plan text for plan purposes instead of, or in addition to, earnings.
Paragraph 8503(3)(a) of the Income Tax Regulations specifies the periods of service that may be recognized by an employer to calculate retirement benefits under a defined benefit provision. For example, paragraph 8503(3)(a) of the Regulations includes in eligible service a period throughout which the member is employed in Canada by, and receives remuneration from, an employer that participates in the plan.
Enhanced flex plan
(Régime de pension flexible rehaussé)
An enhanced flex plan is a combination plan that allows members to acquire or improve ancillary benefits provided in connection with basic pension benefits accruing under the DB provision of the plan by making optional contributions to their MP account. The value of the improved ancillary benefits is expressed as a function of the value of the member’s account in the MP provision. The enhanced flex design is not subject to Newsletter No. 96-3, Flexible Pension Plans, because the additional benefits are based on MP contributions rather than DB contributions. In addition, an enhanced flex plan may allow members to transfer their MP account to the DB provision in order to remove the MP offset and further increase ancillary benefits.
Final or best average earnings
(Salaire moyen de fin de carrière ou salaire maximal moyen)
Defined benefit provisions come in various forms. A final average earnings or a best average earnings provision is one where benefits are based on the member's earnings averaged over a short period, such as the final few years of service, or the three or five years of highest earnings.
Defined benefit provisions come in various forms. A flat benefit provision is a defined benefit provision where the plan benefits are expressed as a dollar amount for each month or year of service, for example, $25 per month for each complete year worked.
Flex benefits are benefits provided under a flexible pension plan.
Flexible pension plan
(Régime de pension flexible)
In general terms, a flexible pension plan is a pension plan that allows members to make voluntary defined benefit contributions to acquire or improve ancillary benefits provided in connection with basic pension benefits accruing under the plan. A flexible pension plan allows members to improve their pension benefits to address their individual needs. Since ancillary benefits are not taken into account in computing pension adjustments and past service pension adjustments, members can improve their benefits without reducing the amount of deduction room available for registered retirement savings plan contributions.
A funding medium is the vehicle used to hold the funds required to fund pension benefits. A pension plan must be funded through one or more contracts for insurance, trusts governed by written trust agreements, pension corporations, or arrangements administered by the Government of Canada, the government of a province, or an agent thereof, or in a manner acceptable to the Minister. See paragraph 8502(g) of the Income Tax Regulations and paragraph 6(e) of IC72-13R8, Employees' Pension Plans, for more information on this subject.
A grandfathered plan is a registered pension plan with a defined benefit provision that existed on or before March 27, 1988. Plans that are established to provide defined benefits to one or more members instead of defined benefits under a grandfathered plan may also be considered a grandfathered plan. See subsection 8500(1) of the Income Tax Regulations for the definition.
An inactive provision is one where contributions have ceased to be made by or on behalf of all members (money purchase provision) or where benefits have ceased to accrue for all members (defined benefit provision). If no members of the plan are earning a benefit, the plan is said to be inactive.
The registration of an inactive plan is maintained so that benefits continue to be tax-sheltered until they have all been disbursed from the plan.
Individual pension plan
(Régime de retraite individuel)
For a calendar year, an individual pension plan (IPP) is a registered pension plan that has a defined benefit provision if, at any time in the year or a preceding year,
the plan has fewer than four members and at least one of the them is related to a participating employer in the plan; or
is a designated plan and it is reasonable to conclude that the rights of one or more members to receive benefits under the plan exist primarily to avoid the application of paragraph (a).
Clients may ask the Registered Plans Directorate for our opinion about how we interpret a particular section of the legislation. Requests for interpretations can be addressed to:
Registered Plans Directorate
Canada Revenue Agency
Ottawa ON K1A 0L5
For purposes of the proportionality condition, we consider an individual to be a key employee if:
the individual is or was connected with an employer who participates in the plan, or
in the year in which the lifetime retirement benefits are provided or in any preceding year, the individual's total remuneration from employers who participate in the plan (and from other related employers) was greater than 2½ times the year's maximum pensionable earnings (YMPE) for the year.
A legislated plan is a plan whose terms are set out in, or whose authority is drawn from, legislation. The plan terms of legislated plans are usually federal or provincial pension acts.
Lifetime retirement benefits
Lifetime retirement benefits are retirement benefits payable on a periodic basis to the member until the member's death, unless the benefits are commuted or payment of the benefits is suspended. See subsection 8500(1) of the Income Tax Regulations for the definition. Bridging benefits, by definition, are not lifetime retirement benefits.
Member-funded pension plan
(Régime de retraite par financement salarial)
A member-funded pension plan (MFPP) is a type of defined benefit pension plan permitted by Quebec's Supplemental Pension Plans Act. In an MFPP, the employer contributions are fixed at a pre-determined rate. The member contributions to the plan may vary, depending on the rate of return the plan fund receives. An MFPP essentially reverses the funding roles of the employer and the plan members from those in a traditional defined benefit plan. See subsection 8510(9) of the Income Tax Regulations for the special rules associated with MFPPs.
A merger occurs when two or more pension plans of the same participating employer are merged together. The members cease to accrue benefits under one pension plan and begin to accrue benefits under the other plan. All of the assets of the terminating plan are transferred to the continuing plan. Mergers may involve two or more plans being transferred into one continuing plan.
A money purchase, also known as a defined contribution, plan or provision is one where each member has one or more accounts to which contributions and earnings are credited. The amount of the member's benefit is not determined until the time the benefit is provided. See subsection 147.1(1) of the Income Tax Act for the definition.
A multi-employer plan (MEP) is one where no more than 95% of the active members will be employed by one employer or group of related employers in the year. See subsection 8500(1) of the Income Tax Regulations for the definition.
Normal form of pension
(Forme normale de rente)
The normal form of pension is the usual way the member's pension will be paid as specified in the plan terms. For example, the member's pension may be paid to the member for his or her life with 66% of the monthly amount continuing to the spouse after the member's death. Most pension benefit supervisory authorities require that the plan terms provide a normal form for members without a spouse, and a pension of equal value for members with a spouse that provides for a continuing spousal benefit upon the death of the member.
Optional ancillary benefit
(Prestation accessoire optionnelle)
An optional ancillary benefit is any benefit (other than an exempt benefit) provided to a pension plan member participating in a flexible pension plan, as a consequence of the member having made optional contributions under the flexible pension plan. Some examples of optional ancillary benefits are increased early retirement benefits, survivor benefits, and bridging benefits. For more information about exempt benefits or optional ancillary benefits, see our Newsletter No. 96-3, Flexible Pension Plans.
Optional forms of pension
(Formes optionnelles de rente)
The optional forms of pension are those over and above the normal form(s) of pension that the employer offers to its members. The optional forms may be specified in the plan terms and allow the members to tailor to their needs the size of their benefit payments, the length of the guarantee period, and the amount of continuing survivor benefits. Generally, the longer the guarantee period and the greater the amount continuing to the spousal survivor, the lower the monthly/annual benefit payment.
A paid-up provision is an inactive provision that has sufficient funds to pay the promised benefits and requires no regular contributions.
A participating employer is an employer that has made or is required to make contributions to the plan or payments under the plan for its active-member employees or former employees. See subsection 147.1(1) of the Income Tax Act for the definition.
Defined benefit provisions may provide benefits for periods of eligible service that occurred in a year before the current year. An example might be an employer who started a business three years ago and now wishes to introduce an employees' pension plan and recognize the periods of eligible service from the start of the business to the effective date of the plan. The period of service before the effective date is an example of what would be considered past service. In a plan that contains a defined benefit provision, past service can be purchased any time an employer allows a plan member to recognize additional eligible service as an employee retroactively.
Pension benefits supervisory authorities
(Organismes de réglementation en matière de pension)
Pension benefits supervisory authorities are the federal and provincial bodies that administer pension benefits standards legislation.
All pension benefits supervisory authorities are members of the Canadian Association of Pension Supervisory Authorities (CAPSA), a membership list of which is available at http://www.capsa-acor.org/en/.
Pensionable service is the portion of the defined benefit plan member's eligible service that is used for benefit purposes in a given pension plan. A plan administrator determines what constitutes pensionable service by defining it within a pension plan text. All pensionable service must be eligible service. However, the plan terms might be more restrictive; for instance, not all eligible service is necessarily pensionable service under the plan. See subsection 8500(1) of the Income Tax Regulations for the definition.
(Répondant du régime)
The plan sponsor is the body that establishes and maintains a registered pension plan.
The present value is the value today of a promised future amount. With respect to defined benefit pension plans, it is used in the context of valuing future promised benefits for funding purposes.
(Test de proportionnalité)
There are restrictions on the purchase of pre-1990 benefits for members in certain plans. In these plans, benefits purchased for pre-1990 service for a member can't exceed the benefits for post-1989 service accrued by that member on a current service basis. A demonstration is required to show that these conditions are being met. See our Newsletter No. 99-1, Proportionality Condition for Pre-1990 Pension Benefits, for more information.
A provision is the set of plan terms that describes how contributions will be made, and how benefits will be accrued and paid out to members. Plans may have more than one provision under which benefits accrue; however, each provision must stand alone and not be conditional on another. Provisions are either money purchase or defined benefit.
For a member of a defined benefit plan who was a connected person in a year before 1991 (or pre-1992 for grandfathered plans), new or improved benefits for service in a year before 1991 (or pre-1992 for grandfathered plans) are eligible if the member's remuneration was reasonable. Remuneration of such a person will be considered to be reasonable if it is at least the lesser of $65,000 or 75% of the average of the remuneration paid to the member for the prior best 3 consecutive years. See paragraph 8(e)(vii) of IC72-13R8, Employees' Pension Plans, for more information.
See Arm's length.
The Income Tax Act and the Income Tax Regulations refer to remuneration but do not define it for purposes of registered pension plans. For example, for purposes of determining eligible service and lifetime retirement benefits, paragraph 8503(3)(a) of the Regulations refers to a period throughout which the member receives remuneration from a participating employer. Remuneration has a broader meaning than compensation.
(Retrait de l'agrément)
Revocation is the cancellation of the registration of a pension plan under the Income Tax Act. Revocation may be voluntary, at the request of the plan administrator, or involuntary, by the Minister of National Revenue for non-compliance with the Act.
For the purposes of registered pension plans, a significant shareholder is a person who holds, alone or in combination with someone they do not deal with at arm's length, 10% or more of the issued shares of any class of shares of a participating employer or related employer. See paragraph 8(d) of IC72-13R8, Employees' Pension Plans, for more information.
For years after 1989, this term has been replaced with connected person.
Simplified pension plan
(Régime de pension simplifié)
A simplified pension plan is a money purchase plan designed to reduce the administrative burden on employers. Typically, participation is open to any employer who wants to join the plan, although the administrator can set limits. See Newsletter No. 98-1, Simplified Pension Plans, for more information.
Generally, a specified individual is one who is connected to a participating employer (a connected person) or whose remuneration is greater than 2½ times the year's maximum pensionable earnings . The definition is relevant to the designated plan rules. See subsection 8515(4) of the Income Tax Regulations for the definition.
Specified multi-employer plan
(Régime interentreprises déterminé)
A specified multi-employer plan (SMEP) is a multi-employer plan where employers participate under a collective bargaining agreement and there are either 15 or more participating employers or more than 10% of the members work for more than one participating employer. Contributions are made pursuant to a negotiated formula as part of the union contract and do not fluctuate based on the financial experience of the plan. See subsection 147.1(1) of the Income Tax Act and subsections 8510(2) to 8510(4) of the Income Tax Regulations for the definition, and subsections 8510(6) to 8510(8) of the Regulations for the special rules relating to SMEPs.
A specimen plan is one where the plan text or funding document, or both, have been pre-approved by the Registered Plans Directorate with limited specified variables. Once approved, the documents are assigned an identification number. When a plan administrator elects to use a specimen plan, there is no need to submit copies of the pre-approved documents, just a list of the chosen variables, a completed Form T510, Application to Register a Pension Plan, and any other relevant documents.
A split occurs when a registered pension plan is divided into two or more parts. Some of the members cease to accrue benefits under the plan and begin to accrue benefits under a new pension plan. Some of the assets are transferred from the initial plan to the newly registered plan.
Target benefit (shared risk) plan
(Régime à prestations cibles (risques partagés))
A target benefit is a defined benefit pension plan where retirement benefits may be adjusted based on the financial position of the plan.
True copies of the originals
(Copies conformes des originaux)
The Income Tax Act requires that applications for registration of a pension plan or for the acceptance of an amendment to a registered pension plan contain documents with original signatures or certified copies of the originals. In some cases, we will accept the certification on the application form by the authorized representative of the plan administrator. The Canada Revenue Agency reserves the right to ask for original documents or certified copies.