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Converting Your RRSP While In The U.S.?

Question: Me and my wife moved to US [1] in Jan 1980. We are both 65 now and have RRSPs in Canada [2]. We did not contribute anything after we left.  The brokerage statement shows the value of each account at ~$40,500.  The cost basis was ~$75,959. What is the best way to “withdraw” this amount and what will be tax consequences in Canada.

Your best bet is to convert the account to a RRIF and take large payments. These would be subject to a 15% withholding tax. You can claim this as a credit on your 1040.

Follow-Up Question: One final question, if we were to allow the RRSP to “mature” and withdraw the securities (not cash) and hold them, till their prices recover (most of them are Canadian banks and do trade on the NYSE), will we be paying the 25% withholding taxes (to reflect them on our 1040 here in US). The reason to mention this is that the cost basis of the account is higher (~$75,959) than the market value.

Yes you would still have to pay the withholding tax if you took your payments in kind or cash.