Super contributions: $1 million opportunity

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:

IMPORTANT: SuperGuide does not provide financial advice. SuperGuide does not answer all questions posted in the comments section. SuperGuide may use your question or comment, or use questions from several readers, as the basis for an article topic that we publish on the SuperGuide website. We will not disclose names or personal information in these articles. 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.


  1. Mike ELLIOTT says:

    I believe it is important for a couple to divide any super contributions equally. The Tax proposed by the Labor government ( Cancelled as the cost of administration was going to be very high ) was aimed at individual retired people. At some stage in the future I am sure a tax on super will be introduced by a Labor government. At that stage two halves will be worth a lot more that a single pension or payment.
    It would be hard to tax retired people on contributions which weren’t claimed as a tax deduction when paid into their super fund. This is also a by product of splitting the payments equally.

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