Q: I am aged 54. How much can I make in super contributions without attracting penalty tax? Is it $210,000 or $215,000 or some other figure?
A: Before I answer your question in detail, for the benefit of other readers I will first explain the figures you quote in your question.
The general concessional (before-tax) contributions cap for the 2014/2015 year is $30,000, although if you’re an older Australian you can make up to $35,000 in concessional contributions without exceeding your concessional cap. The concessional cap for older Australians of $35,000 is available for the 2014/2015 year if you were aged 49 years or older on 30 June 2014.
The annual non-concessional (after-tax) contributions cap for the 2014/2015 year is $180,000.
The reader asking the question has combined the concessional and non-concessional limits to arrive at $210,000 and $215,000.
An individual aged 54 is eligible for a concessional cap of $35,000 and a non-concessional cap of $180,000, taking the total to $215,000.
Note: An individual under the age of 65 can also decide to bring forward 2 years’ worth of non-concessional limits, which means over 3 years an individual can make up to $540,000 in non-concessional contributions, and those contributions can be made in Year 1 of the 3-year period, or any other combination. For example, an individual can make $540,000 in non-concessional contributions in the 2014/2015 triggering the bring-forward rules for the following two years (2015/2016 and 2016/2017 years).
If an individual aged 54 takes advantage of the bring-forward rules, and the concessional cap, he or she can potentially make $575,000 in super contributions in a financial year.
If he or she has a spouse of a similar age, then likewise this level of super contributions can be made by the spouse.
A couple, under the age of 65, can potentially make up to $1.15 million in super contributions during the 2014/2015 financial year. If you’re aged 65 years or over, the maximum that you contribute in a financial year is $215,000 without exceeding the contributions caps.
You can read more information about the contributions caps in the following SuperGuide articles: