Super contribution limits

Super contribution limits

Stay under your contribution caps and you won’t pay extra tax.

There is such a thing as too much of a good thing. Overdo it with your contributions and you might find yourself with unwanted tax bills. Let’s take a closer look at the caps, so you can contribute, get generous tax breaks and prevent penalty tax.

Concessional contribution cap

You can make concessional (before-tax) contributions to your super of up to $25,000 each financial year. Employer contributions, including salary sacrifice and any personal contributions you claim as a tax deduction, are all included in this cap.

The cap applies per person, not per account. That means if you have multiple accounts you can contribute up to $25,000 in total across all your accounts (not $25,000 for each account). For example, if you have two accounts, you could put $10,000 in one and $15,000 in another.

It’s possible in some years you may have more spare cash to invest than other years. If you find you can contribute more than in a previous financial year, you can use what's called the ‘carry-forward’ rule. As long as your total super balance (see below) is less than $500,000, the carry-forward rule lets you add the previous year’s unused cap limit to your current cap (over rolling five-year periods).

For example:

 

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Year 4

Year 5

Total

Scenario 1 –contributing the maximum concessional amount per year

$25,000

$25,000

$25,000

$25,000

$25,000

$125,000

Scenario 2 –
using the carry forward rule

$25,000

$0
(unused cap of $25,000)

$50,000

$20,000
(unused cap of $5,000)

$30,000

$125,000

More on the concessional cap (ATO website) ›

Non-concessional super contribution cap 

The cap for non-concessional (after-tax) contributions is $100,000 per financial year. These super contributions could be regular payments made throughout the year or ad hoc, up to $100,000. For example, you might contribute money from an asset sale, inheritance or some of your savings.

The following are considered non-concessional contributions:

  • Personal super contributions for which you haven’t claimed a tax deduction
  • Super contributions your spouse makes to your super
  • Super contributions made by your employer on your behalf from your after-tax salary. This is different to money you may salary sacrifice into your super, which is considered a before-tax contribution and goes towards your concessional cap.
  • Concessional (before-tax) contributions to your super that have exceeded the annual concessional cap.

If you exceed the cap…

You must lodge a tax return for that financial year and you might have to pay extra tax.

Important info

Your super contributions are counted from the date the payment is allocated by your super fund, not when the payment is sent. If you’re making a contribution before the end of financial year, make sure to leave enough time for the contribution to be received and allocated by your super fund.

The bring-forward rule

Naturally, you won’t always know when you’ll have money to contribute, so non-concessional super contributions also have the ‘bring-forward’ rule, which lets you add the previous year’s unused cap to your current cap (over three-year rolling periods). In this case, a total contribution limit of up to $300,000 over three years applies. It’s quite a boost, but note there are some rules around your age, work situation and total super balance that you need to consider.

More about the bring-forward rule

Age

To be eligible for the bring-forward rule, you must be under 65 years of age on July 1 of the first year you make contributions.

Your total superannuation balance

For the 2019/2020 financial year, your total super balance must be less than $1.5 million at the end of the first financial year that triggers the bring-forward rule. The bring-forward rule is automatically triggered if you exceed the non-concessional cap of $100,000 in a financial year and are eligible.

Let’s take a closer look at some examples, both for members with a super balance of less than $1.5 million and under 65 years of age.

 

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3

Total contribution cap

Example using the maximum yearly contribution cap without exceeding the cap (i.e. not using bring-forward rule)

$100,000 cap

$100,000 cap

$100,000 cap

$300,000

Example scenario
using the bring-forward rule.

$110,000 contribution
(exceeds cap by $10,000 and triggers bring-forward rule)

$20,000
contribution
(under the yearly cap by $80,000. Total contributions equal $130,000 of permitted $200,000)

 

$170,000
contribution
(yearly cap plus the unused cap amount of $70,000)

$300,000

More on the non-concessional cap (ATO website) ›

Make a non-concessional super contribution using this form

 

Total super balance

Your total super balance is the combined value of all your super accounts as at 30 June of each financial year. For example, if you have three super accounts with $100,000 in each, your total super balance is $300,000.

Your total super balance may restrict you from making certain types of super contributions:

  • Unused concessional contributions cap to carry-forward
  • Non-concessional contributions and eligibility for the bring-forward rule
  • Government co-contribution (this relates to the non-concessional contribution cap listed above)
  • Tax offsets for spouse super contributions (this relates to the non-concessional cap listed above)
More info on total super balance (ATO website) ›

Log in to see your CareSuper account balance.

 

Transfer balance cap

When you reach your preservation (retirement) age, you can transfer your money from your super ‘accumulation account’ (where your money has been deposited while you’re working) to your ‘pension account’ (where you can access and use your money in retirement).

However, there are limits on how much you can transfer from your super accumulation account into your retirement accounts. This is known as the transfer balance cap.

The transfer balance cap is currently set at $1.6 million and may increase annually in $100,000 increments in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI). 

If you exceed the cap, you may be required to pay a fine and transfer the excess money out of your retirement accounts. 

If you need help to set up your accounts so you don’t exceed the transfer balance cap, we can help.

Get advice ›

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Super contribution types
There are plenty of ways you can help your super grow, including salary sacrifice, government schemes and tax offsets for low income earners, and opportunities for couples.

Financial advice is offered through CareSuper’s relationship with Industry Fund Services Limited (IFS),and is provided by an authorisation under the Australian financial services licence of IFS, ABN 54 007 016 195, AFSL 232514.