Retire or re-hire? 1 in 4 retired Canadians regret retiring and want to go back to work


A new CIBC poll finds that more than a quarter (27 per cent) of retired Canadians regret retiring and an almost equal number (23 percent) have tried re-entering the labour market. While 59 per cent choose to return to work for the intellectual stimulation, 50 per cent say it’s financial concerns that have them hitting the pavement.

The poll also revealed that half of all Canadians would rather keep working past age 65 than retire and endure a lower standard of living. Most (78 per cent) believe that reducing their work hours or “semi-retirement” gives them the “best of both worlds.”

“Too many Canadians approach retirement without a plan which can lead to unnecessary stress, worries about money and even course corrections,” says Jamie Golombek, Managing Director, CIBC Financial Planning and Advice. “It’s important to visualize your retirement and be clear about how you’ll spend your time. While some choose to stop working entirely, others gradually ease into it. Consider how tax strategies can help you keep more of your money and make it easier to achieve the retirement lifestyle you want. Whichever route you choose, plan ahead and review your plan as your situation changes.”

Return to work can come with less pay

Betting on returning to work to help fund a retirement lifestyle is a bit of a gamble, given that only a third (32 per cent) of those who tried to re-enter the labour market post retirement did so successfully at a similar pay and level. The rest were only able to enter at a lower level/pay (38 per cent) or gave up trying (30 per cent).

“The idea of working in retirement doesn’t replace the need to properly plan ahead and save. The fact is, even if you’re in great shape, healthy and want to return to work, there are no guarantees that you’ll be able to earn sufficient pay and benefits,” says Mr. Golombek. “Plus, any extra income you earn could impact your retirement benefits, limit your ability to claim certain credits or put you in a higher tax bracket, and end up costing you more than you think when your tax bill comes due.”

The poll revealed that there are at least some Canadians who are ready for their golden years: 1 in 5 (18 per cent) Canadians said they never worry about money, because their “retirement plan is all set”. And some Canadians are ready to join the retired ranks if their employers made it worth their while: 1 in 2 (51 per cent) working Canadians aged 55-64 secretly wish their employer would offer them a severance package to leave.

Need more money in retirement? Try lowering your tax bill

Along with a plan, using strategies to minimize taxes during retirement can help stretch retirement dollars. Yet, most Canadians (89 per cent) don’t fully know how their retirement income is taxed, even among those already retired.

This can be a costly mistake when deciding how best to draw down on your assets in your non-working years, says Mr. Golombek in a new report titled “Retiring Right: Understanding the Taxation of Retirement Income” and video which outlines strategies to help reduce taxes and potentially preserve certain government benefits over the course of your retirement.

“When most think about maximizing their retirement income they think about earning more or spending less. But few consider how to reduce their tax bill and keep more of their money when drawing down their assets – and effectively building their retirement paycheque,” says Mr. Golombek.

For example, by electing to split up to 50 per cent of your eligible pension income with your spouse or common-law partner, you may be able to reap an income tax savings of up to 30 percentage points annually, depending on your province of residence and the difference between the tax rates of you and your spouse/partner. And, by decreasing your own income, you may be able to preserve your income-tested government benefits, such as the Old Age Security Pension and the Age Credit.

But, no tax advice is one-size-fits-all, warns Mr. Golombek, since pension splitting may help lower your tax bill and preserve government benefits, but it may also cause your spouse/partner to lose some (or all) of those same benefits.

“Getting the right advice is crucial, so be sure to consult with your financial and tax advisors to ensure you’re taking the right steps to reduce your overall tax bill and keep more of your hard-earned money to enjoy your retirement.”

Other poll findings:

  • Half (47 per cent) of retirees stopped working earlier than they expected due to health, family obligations or employment changes
  • While Canadians say 58 is the average age they plan to retire, they also say they expect to keep working in some capacity until age 62
  • 74 per cent worry about having enough income in retirement
  • 89 per cent of all Canadians don’t fully know how retirement income is taxed, with some (17 per cent) who erroneously believe that CPP benefits are tax-free
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