Maximum super contributions
How to maximise your super without going over the limits
Adding to your super through voluntary contributions can help grow your retirement savings, however, if you add too much in a single financial year, you may be penalised. That's why it's important to know the various caps on how much you can contribute, and what's counted towards those limits. Remember to talk to an accountant to find out about your tax implications.
How much can I contribute to super?
The amount you can contribute to super will vary depending on how you make your contributions. Generally, you can make both before-tax and after-tax contributions, and you can do so in different ways and in different combinations to maximise the benefits.
There is no minimum amount you need to contribute, but here are maximum limits.
What is the maximum super contribution?
The maximum super contribution you can make to your super depends on what type of contribution you're making.
|Maximum before-tax contribution
(salary sacrifice, 'contribute and claim' and employer contributions)
|Maximum after-tax contribution
(paid from your bank account)
| Maximum after tax for co-contribution
(Australian Government co-contribution scheme)
|Maximum spouse contribution
(Paying into the super account of your partner)
|Maximum downsizer contribution
(Special conditions for retirees who are selling their home)
Before-tax contributions are also called 'concessional contributions'.
After-tax contributions are also called 'non-concessional contributions'.
What is the maximum salary sacrifice?
Salary sacrifice is a before-tax contribution, so the maximum salary sacrifice is $27,500 per financial year, but remember, this cap also includes any contributions your employer has made to your superannuation. Therefore, the actual cap for salary sacrifice is $27,500 minus all employer contributions for that year.
What are the age limits for super contributions?
|Before-tax contribution||Not over 75|
|After-tax contribution||No age limit|
|Co-contribution||Not over 71 at the end of the financial year|
|Spouse contribution||Not over 75|
|Downsizer contribution||No age limit|
|Employer contributions||No age limit|
What if I exceed the contribution cap?
If you exceed the contribution cap for before tax contributions, check your eligibility for the carry forward rule. If you are not eligible, you may have to pay extra tax and you have the option to withdraw up to 85% of the excess to assist payment. The ATO applies a 15% offset to the extra tax.
If the excess contributions were made after tax and you are not eligible for the bring forward rule, then you need to wait for the ATO to contact you with a determination which explains your options.
To find out more about exceeding the contributions caps, visit the ATO website.
Which is which?
The carry forward rule is used for before-tax ('concessional') contributions.
The bring forward rule is used for after tax ('non-concessional') contributions.
What are the penalties for excess contributions?
If you go over either the concessional or non-concessional caps, and you can't use the carry forward or bring forward rules, then the ATO could send you a letter detailing how much you have exceeded the cap by, and what you can do to rectify it. You may be offered two options, depending on the type of contribution.
Excess before-tax (concessional) contributions:
A. withdraw up to 85% of the excess, and pay your normal tax rate (rather than the lower concessional 15% tax) on the remainder, plus an additional 'excess contributions charge'
B. leave all the excess in your super and pay your normal tax rate on that surplus contribution.
Excess after-tax (non-concessional) contributions:
A. withdraw up to 85% of the excess, and pay your normal income tax rate on any earnings that the excess amount has made while in your fund.
B. leave all the excess in your super and pay tax at a rate of 47% on that surplus contribution.
Either way, if you think you've exceeded the contributions cap, get professional financial advice as soon as possible, as you might be able to go over the caps by using either the 'carry forward' or the 'bring forward' rules.
To find out more about exceeding the contributions cap, visit the ATO website.
The carry forward rule allows you to increase this year's before-tax contribution limit by 'carrying forward' or rolling over unused portions of your limits from previous years and adding them to this year's cap. The unused portion, however, must only be from within the last five years, and your super balance must be less than $500,000.
You can bring forward non-concessional (i.e. after-tax contributions) from future years to increase the caps under certain circumstances:
- you must be under 75 years of age
- your super balance must be less than $1.59 million
- If your super balance is less than $1.48 million, you can bring forward three years of caps to a maximum of $330,000
- if your super balance is $1.48 million or more, but less than $1.59 million, then you can bring forward two years of caps to a maximum of $220,000.
Can I bring forward concessional contributions?
No. You can only add unused limits from previous years to your current caps, and this is called carrying forward.
What's the difference between the carry forward rule and the bring forward rule?
The carry forward rule only applies to before-tax contributions and relates to rolling over portions of unused limits from previous years into this financial year. You can carry forward unused limits from up to five years ago.
The bring forward rule on the other hand, applies to after-tax contributions, and brings your future limits forward, so that you can use them earlier. How much you can bring forward and from when will depend on your super balance.