Can you add to your super? How much can you contribute? There are limits on who can top up and how much money you can add to your super each year. If you go over the limits, you could pay extra tax.
The contribution cap is the limit on how much you can add to your super each financial year. The cap amount depends on your age, balance and what types of contributions are made; after-tax or before-tax.
There are some additional rules which can give you some extra flexibility, depending on your age, balance and working situation.
The below information describes the contributions caps and tax rates for the 2020/21 financial year.
Before-tax (concessional) contributions cap
Before-tax contributions Include employer contributions (Super Guarantee), salary sacrifice amounts and personal contributions that you claim as a tax deduction.
If you have more than one super account, all concessional contributions made to all of your accounts are added together and count towards the cap.
|Age||balance||2020/21 annual cap|
|All ages||Any balance||$25,000|
+ carry forward rule
What happens if I go over the before-tax cap?
Excess concessional contributions are included as taxable income and are taxed at your marginal tax rate plus an excess concessional contributions charge.
What should I do if I have exceeded the cap?
If you think you may go over your concessional contributions cap in the current financial year, it’s important to take action, to reduce the extra tax you may have to pay. The first step is to stop or reduce any further concessional contributions (like salary sacrifice payments) if you can, or to delay until the next financial year any personal super contributions you intend to claim as a tax deduction.
It’s also a good idea to confirm with your employer when the electronic payment of contributions (e.g. salary sacrifice and SG amounts) will be made to your super fund, so you know whether or not it will hit your super account by 30 June.
Your employer is not required to make their SG contributions for the April to June quarter until 28 July 2020, which is in the next financial year.
Carry forward rule
You can ‘carry forward’ your unused before-tax contributions from previous years (from 1 July 2018) enabling you to use any of your unused concessional (before-tax) contributions cap on a rolling five-year basis. Your super balance must be less than $500,000 on 30 June of the previous financial year to carry-forward your unused cap.
Unused amounts are available on a rolling basis for five years and expire. To illustrate, if no before-tax contributions were made, this is how the unused balance would carry forward:
|Financial year||Before-tax contribution cap||Maximum cap using the carry-forward rule|
Karla has $100,000 in her super account. During 2018/19 she took time off work and only $10,000 in before-tax (concessional) contributions were paid to her super account.
As a result, in the 2019/20 tax year, she can contribute $40,000 in before-tax contributions into her account. This is comprised of the unused caps in the 2018/19 tax year and the $25,000 concessional contribution cap for the 2019/20 tax year.
After-tax (non-concessional) contributions cap
After-tax contributions are typically extra, voluntary contributions you make from your bank account. These include any personal contributions you make which you don’t claim as a tax deduction and any spouse contributions you make directly into your spouse’s super account.
Not everyone is eligible to make after-tax contributions to super. Eligibility depends on your age, balance and working status.
|Age||Conditions||Annual non-concessional contributions cap 2020/21||Can I use the Bring forward rule?|
|Under age 67||• My Total Superannuation Balance* is under $1.6 million||$100,000||Yes1|
|Under age 67||• My Total Superannuation Balance* is $1.6 million or more||Nil||No|
|I am age 67-74|
• I have met the Work Test; and
• My Total Superannuation Balance* is under $1.6 million
|I am age 67-74|
• I do not meet the Work Test in the current financial year;
• I met the Work Test last financial year;
• My Total Superannuation Balance* was less than $300,000 at the end of the last financial year; and
• I have not used the Work Test Exemption to make contributions previously.
|I am age 67-74|
• I do not meet the Work Test this year; and
• I did not meet the Work Test last financial year
|I am age 75 or older||Nil||No|
*Your Total Superannuation Balance as defined by the Australian Tax Office. The total amount you have across all superannuation accounts, including pension accounts, other super funds & SMSF's.
1 As at writing, legislation is currently before Parliament which will have the effect of permitting individuals aged 65-67 years of age to make non-concessional contributions under the bring-forward arrangements from 1 July 2020.
Bring forward rule
The bring forward rule allows you to bring forward your contributions cap (or limits) from future years and use them in a shorter time period.
The annual non-concessional (after-tax) contributions cap is $100,000. The bring-forward rules allow you (if eligible) to make non-concessional contributions of up to three times the annual contributions cap in a single year (3 x $100,000 = $300,000 in 2020/21).
You can Bring forward your cap either all at once or as several contributions.
Brian is aged 52 and his total superannuation balance is currently $650,000.
Brian sells an investment property and in October 2017 made a non-concessional contribution into his super account of $280,000.
The bring-forward rule is triggered when Brian exceeded his normal annual non-concessional contributions cap of $100,000. As such, Brian can make a further non-concessional contribution of up to $20,000 in 2018/2019 or 2019/2020 if he wishes to use up his full $300,000 three-year cap.
In 2020/2021, Brian's non-concessional contributions cap will reset, and he can make further non-concessional contributions up to the normal annual contributions cap. Subject to his balance as at 30 June 2020, could utilise the bring forward rule again.
Note: If you trigger the bring-forward rule in a particular year, any change to the non-concessional contributions cap during the following three-year period will not apply to you, so you are unable to take advantage of any increase (or decrease) in the contributions cap.
Eligibility for the bring forward rule from July 2020
- you must be under 65* years old for one day during the triggering year (the first year).
- you must contribute more than the annual cap ($100,000)
- your total super balance at the end of 30 June of the previous financial year must be less than the general transfer balance cap ($1.6 million) with a capacity greater than the annual non-concessional contribution cap ($100,000). Therefore, for 2018–19 you must have a total super balance as at the end of 30 June 2018 of less than $1.5 million to be able to access the bring-forward arrangement.
*At the time of writing, it is before parliament to amend this age restriction to under 67.
Work test & exemption
Once you reach age 67, putting extra money into your super account becomes more difficult as you need to prove you are gainfully employed, which means satisfying the superannuation work test.
The super work test and the work test exemption can be a little tricky to understand, so here’s a simple guide to the key points.
What is the work test?
If you’re aged 67 to 74 you need to be 'gainfully employed' before your super fund will accept your personal contributions. This is referred to as the superannuation work test.
However; if you can’t meet the conditions of the work test, there is a one-off work test exemption for recent retirees. The exemption allows recent retirees with a Total superannuation balance of less than $300,00 to make a super contribution.
Are you gainfully employed?
According to the ATO, 'gainful employment' means you are employed or self-employed and being paid for it. It doesn't matter what type of work it is, as long as it is remunerated through a salary, business income, bonus or commission. The employment needs to be fully documented and declared for income tax purposes.
Unpaid, volunteering or charity work is not considered gainful employment as you are not paid for your work.
You need to have worked at least 40 hours within any 30 consecutive days in a financial year before your super fund can accept after-tax contributions from you.
How to prove you meet the work test
Before we're able to accept a contribution, we require you to submit a declaration confirming that you are employed. You can do this by calling us on 1800 060 312, or completing and returning an employment questionnaire.
Work test exemption
If you're aged 67 -74, you can make voluntary super contributions for one more year after you stop working.
From 1 July 2019 the government introduced an exemption from the work test for voluntary super contributions made in the first income year after you retire. The exemption is designed to allow recent retirees more time to get their affairs in order as they prepare for retirement.
To qualify for the work test exemption, you must have:
- Satisfied the work test in the financial year preceding the year in which you make the contribution
- A Total superannuation balance of less than $300,000 (this is your balance at 30 June of the previous financial year. You're not required to remain under the balance cap for the whole 12-month period)
- Not previously used the work test exemption. If you use the exemption to make a contribution and later return to work, you can’t use it again when you retire.