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?

A: My first general comment is: 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.

Secondly, 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) contributions.

Concessional contributions are subject to 15% tax upon entry into a super fund (and 30% tax if an individual earns more than $300,000 a year). In contrast, non-concessional contributions 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 2013/2014 year, an individual who is under 60 (that is, was 58 years or younger on the 30 June 2013) has an annual concessional contributions cap of $25,000 (for the 2013/2014 year). An individual who is aged 60 years or over (that is, was aged 59 years or older on the 30 June 2013), has a concessional cap of $35,000 (for the 2013/2014 year).

For the 2014/2015 year, an individual who is under 50 (that is, was 48 years or younger on the 30 June 2014) has an annual concessional contributions cap of $30,000 (for the 2014/2015 year). An individual who is aged 50 years or over (that is, was aged 49 years or older on the 30 June 2014), has a concessional cap of $35,000 (for the 2014/2015 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 $25,000 concessional cap (for the 2013/2014 year), and the $30,000 cap (for the 2014/2015 year). Also, if you’re an employee, 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, 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 2013/2014 year, an individual under the age of 60 can make no more than $25,000 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 2014/2015 year, an individual under the age of 50 can make no more than $30,000 in concessional contributions, which means fully using the concessional contributions cap only partially offsets 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.

© Copyright Trish Power 2009-2014

Copyright for this article belongs to Trish Power, and cannot be reproduced without express and specific consent.

IMPORTANT: SuperGuide does not provide financial advice. Comments provided by readers that may include information relating to tax, superannuation or other rules cannot be relied upon as advice. SuperGuide does not verify the information provided within comments from readers. Readers need to seek independent advice about their personal circumstances.

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