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Managing capital gains tax with super contributions

Q: I am about to make a capital gain of about $200,000 on an investment property I have owned for several years. My marginal tax rate is 32.5% and I am an employee, and 43 years old. I want to contribute the equivalent of the capital gain to my super, which is not self-managed, so I can save some money for the long run? Is this a non-concessional super contribution and thus I can claim it all as a tax deduction, or do I need to contribute an amount that when 15% is taxed and charges taken out, it is the same as the capital gain tax?

I have split your question into two parts. First, I will explain the general rules relating to super contributions, and second, I will explore the strategy of making super contributions to reduce the income tax payable on a capital gain.

Note that anyone considering ways to minimise tax via pro-active strategies, such as the strategy you are suggesting, should chat to a registered tax agent, usually an accountant. An accountant can also assist you in determining if you have access to any other tax-minimisation strategies.

Also note that the type of super contribution that can help an individual reduce income tax payable on personal income is a concessional (before-tax) contribution, rather than a non-concessional (after-tax) contribution.

Concessional contributions are subject to 15% tax upon entry into a super fund (and 30% tax if an individual has an adjusted taxable income of more than $300,000 a year). In contrast, non-concessional contributions (up to a limit) are not subject to tax upon entry into a super fund, because they are sourced from an individual’s after-tax personal income.

For the 2016/2017 year, an individual who is under 50 (that is, is 48 years or younger on the 30 June 2016) has an annual concessional contributions cap of $30,000 (for the 2016/2017 year). An individual who is aged 50 years or over (that is, is aged 49 years or older on the 30 June 2016), has a concessional cap of $35,000 (for the 2016/2017 year).

For the 2015/2016 year, an individual who is under 50 (that is, was 48 years or younger on the 30 June 2015) has an annual concessional contributions cap of $30,000 (for the 2015/2016 year). An individual who is aged 50 years or over (that is, was aged 49 years or older on the 30 June 2015), has a concessional cap of $35,000 (for the 2015/2016 year).

Note: The tax payable on super contributions by a super fund is not linked to the tax that an individual pays on personal income. The full concessional contribution, if claimed as a tax deduction, would appear in an individual’s income tax return. A self-employed or non-employed individual can only claim deductions for super contributions against assessable income, such as salary, investment income and capital gains.

Important: If you’re an employee, then your employer is making super contributions on your behalf (Superannuation Guarantee) which also count towards the $30,000 concessional cap (for the 2016/2017 year, or for the 2015/2016 year), or the $35,000 cap (for the 2016/2017 year, or for the 2015/2016 year). Also, if you’re an employee, in most cases you cannot claim tax-deductible super contributions, but you can organise a salary sacrifice arrangement with your employer.

The following comments regarding tax on capital gains are of a general nature only and cannot be considered as financial advice: any reader dealing with capital gains should speak to a registered tax agent (typically an accountant).

Individuals who sell investments that they have owned for more than 12 months generally are eligible for the capital gains tax (CGT) discount which means only half of the capital gain is included in an individual’s assessable income. For example, in the case of a $200,000 capital gain on the sale of an asset owned for more than 12 months, only $100,000 of a $200,000 capital gain would then be included in a person’s assessable income.

Making concessional contributions can reduce an individual’s taxable income, which then, in effect, reduces the impact of the capital gain on any tax payable.

For the 2016/2017 year, an individual under the age of 50 can make no more than $30,000 in concessional contributions, which means totally eliminating the effect of a discounted capital gain of say, $100,000, is not possible using a super contribution strategy only.

Likewise, for the 2015/2016 year, an individual under the age of 50 could make no more than $30,000 in concessional contributions, which meant fully using the concessional contributions cap only partially offset the personal capital gain.

Note: Making concessional super contributions can be tax-effective if you pay more than 15 cents in the dollar tax on your personal income.

Comments

  1. Alan Lowe says:

    Hi Trish,

    My wife and I would like to reduce our CGT liability by paying up to $35k into her super through concessional contributions. She is currently a payee on 6 months leave without pay and has only had approximately $5k paid into her super this financial year by her employee.

    From what I have read in this article, my wife being a payee, would only be able to contribute a maximum of $30k ($35k – $5k paid by employer) through concessional contributions. Is this correct?

    Thank you for your response 🙂

    Regards,

    Alan.

  2. GREAT article Trish!

    Offsetting capital gains is one of my favourite strategies for reducing taxable income. The info on concessional contribution caps is gold, I never knew that before.

    I’m going to link to your article on my website as a reference for reducing CGT through super contributions. Hope you don’t mind 🙂

    Cheers
    Adam

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