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Super contribution caps: the basics

Making contributions to your superannuation fund is a great way to grow your nest egg, however, there are caps on the amount you can contribute every financial year to be taxed at lower rates. Once you go over these caps, you may be required to pay additional tax.

The cap and extra tax amount will vary depending on your age, the financial year the contributions relate to, and whether the contributions are concessional (before tax) or non-concessional (after tax).

Concessional contributions
Concessional contributions include compulsory employer contributions and salary sacrifice amounts. There is a cap on the amount you can make, and payments are taxed at 15 per cent.

Non-concessional contributions
These are after-tax income contributions and are not taxed in your super fund. However, like concessional contributions, caps also apply to non-concessional payments. From 1 July 2017, the cap was reduced from $180,000 to $100,000 per year. This will remain available to individuals aged between 65 and 74 years providing they meet the work test. The cap is indexed in line with the concessional contributions cap.

The non-concessional cap is also nil for a financial year if you have a total super balance greater than or equal to the general transfer balance cap ($1.6 million in 2017-18) at the end of 30 June of the previous financial year.

Exceeding your non-concessional contribution cap
When you exceed your non-concessional contribution cap, you need to lodge an income tax return for that year. The ATO generally issues a determination if the return is not lodged within 28 days of the due date. You can withdraw the excess non-concessional contributions (and any earnings – the earnings would then be included in your income tax assessment).

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Ineligible downsizer contributions and how they are administered

August 12, 2019

When a downsizer contribution is ineligible, the fund must re-assess the amount in accordance with the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994 and the trust deed. This is to determine if the amount can be retained as a non-concessional contribution.

Provided the trust deed allows so, the fund can return the contribution to the member or adjust the prior downsizing contributions to nil and report this amount as a non-concessional contribution when the member meets the age and work tests.

When a contribution can’t be returned or returned in full:
Members who no longer have a super interest with the fund, or an insufficient return amount, must have their contribution re-reported as non-concessional, even if the contribution was returned because the member did not meet the age/work tests. Some of the contribution may be an excess non-concessional contribution (ENCC). Regardless of the age of the member, if this is the case the member will receive an ENCC determination or when the fund can’t return the full amount. Members will continue to have access to all review rights under the ENCC scheme. Even if the member is in pension phase, the funds will still need to return an ineligible downsizer contribution if it cannot be accepted.

When a fund receives a release authority:
An amount released under these circumstances is treated as a super lump sum as it is a portion of the member’s super interest. Being in pension phase doesn’t prevent a fund from complying with the release authority although it may mean the full amount can’t be released, as the available balance may be lower than the amount stated in the release authority. Where the member’s available balance is lower than the release authority amount, the fund must release the maximum amount available.

The ATO monitors the rectification of this contribution reporting. Where funds don’t act within legislative timeframes, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) may be contacted.