Can I claim capital losses from a stock in my RRSP? - MoneySense

Can I claim capital losses from a stock in my RRSP to reduce taxes?

An investor lost money investing in BlackBerry shares. Now she wants to offset the loss




Q. I bought BlackBerry shares in my RRSP back when they were trading at $76. They’ve dropped sharply since then. If I sell them in my RRSP, I can’t claim the capital loss to reduce my income taxes. What if I moved the shares to an unregistered account? I would have to pay tax on the RRSP withdrawal, but then could I sell the shares and claim the capital loss? Liz S.

Sorry, Liz. Some tax-saving strategies are just wishful thinking, and this is one of them.

If you withdraw your BlackBerry shares from your RRSP and move them to a non-registered account, their book value will become equal to their market value on the day of the transfer, not the price you originally paid.

For example, suppose you bought 100 shares in your RRSP for $76 each, and now they have fallen to $17. If you transfer the shares to a non-registered account, you’ll have to pay income tax on the current market value of the holding, which is $1,700. And once those shares land in your taxable account they will have a book value of $17 each, not $76. So if you immediately sell them for $17, there won’t be any capital loss for you to claim.

This might seem unfair, but remember, had you bought the shares in your RRSP for $17 and watched them rise to $76, your 360% capital gain would not have been taxable when you sold the shares. You can’t have it both ways.