Non-concessional superannuation contributions are more popularly known as after-tax contributions. You may even hear them called ‘undeducted’ contributions. Such super contributions are subject to a contributions cap, which sets a limit on the amount of non-concessional (after-tax) contributions that you can make in one year (1 July through to 30 June).
The non-concessional contributions cap for the 2015/2016 year (1 July 2015 to 30 June 2016) is $180,000, which is the same limit that applied for the 2014/2015 year. (See table later in this article for contribution limits for the past 8 years).
Note: If you’re under the age of 65, you may be able to contribute up to $540,000 in non-concessional contributions for the 2015/2016 year, and likewise this was available for the 2014/2015 year. This opportunity to take advantage of the non-concessional cap for future years, in the current financial year is known as the bring-forward rule (see later in this article for an explanation of the bring-forward rule).
No tax on non-concessional contributions
Non-concessional contributions are sourced from your after-tax income or untaxed income, which means the full contribution reaches your superannuation account, and no tax is deducted when the contribution reaches your super fund. No tax is deducted from a non-concessional contribution because you haven’t claimed a tax deduction, or received any other type of tax concession, before making these contributions.
Any earnings that a super fund derives from those contributions are usually taxed at a lower rate than would be the case for earnings outside the super fund, depending on your level of taxable personal income. Super fund earnings are taxed up to 15 per cent compared to marginal tax rates of up to 47 per cent plus 2% Medicare levy (for 2015/2016 year) on individual earnings outside the super environment.
Note: The top marginal tax rate includes a temporary extra tax of 2% for anyone earning $180,000 or more from the 2014/2015 year, taking the top marginal rate to 47% (or 49%, including 2% Medicare levy), until the top marginal tax rate reverts to 45% (plus Medicare levy from 1 July 2017).
Non-concessional contributions cap*
|Income year||Cap||Bring-forward rule|
*If you’re aged 65 or over, you must satisfy a work test to make super contributions. You cannot make voluntary super contributions after turning 75. For more information on the over-75 rule, see SuperGuide article Super contributions beyond the age of 75.
When will the non-concessional contributions cap increase again?
Effective since the 2014/2015 year, the non-concessional contributions caps is to be regularly indexed in line with increases in the concessional (before-tax) contributions cap. The non-concessional (after-tax) contributions cap will always be six times the level of the (indexed) concessional cap. (The concessional cap is to be indexed in $5,000 increments, which will generally occur every few years. I explain the concessional contributions rules in the SuperGuide article: Super concessional contributions: 2015/2016 survival guide).
Background: For the 2013/2014 year and each financial year back to the 2008/2009 year, the annual non-concessional contributions cap was $150,000 (see table at the end of this article). The non-concessional cap increased to $180,000 from the 2014/2015 year, in line with increases in average wages over time. Note that since the non-concessional cap was first introduced in July 2007, the 2014/2015 year was the first time the non-concessional cap had been adjusted (likewise with the concessional contributions cap). Until the 2014/2015 year, the contributions caps had never been adjusted in line with wage increases as promised. Instead the former ALP federal government froze the contributions caps from when they were originally introduced in July 2007, until the end of the 2013/2014 year.
TFN is a must, and count your contributions carefully
TFN alert: Your super fund must have your tax file number (TFN) on record before you can make non-concessional contributions to a super fund. If your fund doesn’t have your TFN, you can’t make after-tax contributions.
Exceeding your contributions cap: If you exceed the non-concessional contributions cap at any time on or after 1 July 2013, you have the opportunity to withdraw your excess contributions from your super fund and earnings on those contributions will count towards your taxable income, plus you will have to pay a small charge for those reflecting the delay in the ATO recouping income tax on that income for that financial year. The alternative is to leave your excess non-concessional super contributions in the super fund, and pay penalty tax of 49% within your super fund on those excess non-concessional contributions. In other words, if you choose to retain your excess contributions in your super account, then the excess non-concessional contributions will be subject to penalty tax of 49%.
Popular questions from SuperGuide readers
Continue reading about non-concessional contributions to find out the answers to the following questions:
- Is super tax-effective for everyone?
- Can I contribute more than $180,000 during the 2015/2016 year?
- What if I don’t use my non-concessional limit for one, or more years?
- Does the annual cap apply per couple, or per individual?
- So, does that mean that I’m only subject to excess contributions tax if I contribute more than $540,000?
Is super tax-effective for everyone?
If you pay less tax in percentage terms on your wages and salary (and other income) than the 15% earnings tax payable by your super fund on investment earnings, then making non-concessional super contributions may not be a tax-effective option.
The one important exception is if you are eligible to take advantage of the government’s co-contribution scheme. (For the 2015/2016 year, as occurs for the 2014/2015 year, the federal government places up to $500 of tax-free super money into your super fund when you make a $1,000 after-tax contribution. For more information, see the SuperGuide article Cashing in on the co-contribution rules (2015/2016 year).
Important: Note that super fund earnings will still be subject to 15% tax, which means anyone paying less than 15% tax on personal income has to decide if making super contributions, such as non-concessional contributions, is a tax-effective strategy.
Income tax background: From the 2012/2013 year onwards, the former ALP federal government introduced tax cuts to offset the increase in the cost of living expected from the imposition of the carbon tax on Australia’s biggest polluting companies. The tax cuts mean a higher tax-free threshold of $18,200, and higher marginal tax rates for incomes above $18,200 and below $80,000. What this means is that for those earning more than $20,542 (for the 2015/2016 year), they will be paying 19% income tax, compared to 15% tax on super fund investment earnings, which means making non-concessional super contributions has become more tax-effective for more Australians.
Can I contribute more than $180,000 during the 2015/2016 year?
If you’re under the age of 65, you can bring forward up to two years’ worth of non-concessional contributions, which means you can make up to $540,000 in super contributions in one year, representing your non-concessional (after-tax) cap over a three-year period.
Making a non-concessional contribution that is more than the annual non-concessional cap is known as a ‘bring forward’. The maximum bring forward for the 2015/2016 year is $540,000. When you contribute more than $180,000 in non-concessional contributions in one year, you automatically trigger the bring-forward rules for the following two years. Let’s look at three examples.
- A $540,000 non-concessional contribution in one year: If you make a $540,000 non-concessional (after-tax) contribution to your super fund during the 2015/2016 year, say on 15 March 2016, you’re bringing forward two years of contributions for the purposes of the non-concessional contributions cap. You then cannot make another non-concessional contribution until July 2018 (that is, the 2018/2019 year).
- A $360,000 non-concessional contribution in one year: If you make a $360,000 after-tax contribution during the 2015/2016 year, say on 15 March 2016, that only brings forward one year of contributions, but it means you trigger the bring-forward rules for the next two years. You then can only make another $180,000 in non-concessional contributions during the two-year period that ends on 30 June 2018.
- A $210,000 non-concessional contribution in one year: If you make a $210,000 after-tax contribution during the 2015/2016 year, say on 15 March 2016, the $30,000 above the annual $180,000 cap triggers the bring-forward rules, which means over the next two financial years, you can make only $330,000 in non-concessional contributions.
Tip: For more information on the bring-forward rules see the list of article links at the end of the article. The ‘bring forward’ rules are not available to Australians aged 65 or over. If you’re aged 63 or 64 however, you can take advantage of the ‘bring forward’ rules without satisfying the over-65 work test rules that would normally apply to contributions that are made while you’re under 65, but cover your cap for future years. For more information on turning 65 and how the bring-forward rules work see the following SuperGuide articles:
- For over-65s: Ten super tips when making contributions
- Super contributions: Beef up using a bring forward
- Super contributions: Turning 65 part-way through the year
What if I don’t use my non-concessional limit for one or more years?
You must use it or lose it when it comes to the contributions caps. You can’t play catch-up with the annual non-concessional cap, or the bring-forward rules — a ‘bring forward’ can only relate to contributions for future years, not past years. If you fail to utilise your non-concessional cap for one or more years, then the cap for those years is gone forever. Fortunately, the annual non-concessional cap remains in place until you’re 74, so if you don’t take advantage of the annual cap for a few years, you still have an annual cap until the age of 74 (that is, before you turn 75).
Note: If you’re aged 65 or over, you must satisfy a work test to be able to make a super contribution, and you cannot take advantage of the bring-forward rules. See end of article for more information.
Does the annual cap apply per couple, or per individual?
The annual non-concessional (after-tax) contributions cap applies to each person, which means a couple can make up to $360,000 in non-concessional contributions for the 2015/2016 year, or up to $1,080,000 if they take advantage of the bring forward rules.
So, does that mean that I’m only subject to excess contributions tax if I contribute more than $540,000?
If you’re aged 65 or over, the maximum that you can contribute as non-concessional (after-tax) contributions, before you exceed your cap, is $180,000 for the 2015/2016 year. For an individual aged 65 years or over, what this means is that any non-concessional contributions over $180,000 could be hit with a penalty tax of 49%, or the alternative is to withdraw the excess contributions. If you choose to keep the excess contributions in your super fund, then the penalty tax of 49% is imposed on the individual rather than the super fund, although you must apply for an amount equal to the tax liability to be withdrawn from your super fund account.
For more information on the excess contributions rules see SuperGuide article Excess contributions rules: A quick summary
If you’re under the age of 65, and you contribute more than $180,000 in non-concessional contributions for the 2015/2016 year, then you trigger the bring-forward rules. You would only be subject to the excess contributions rules if you exceed $540,000 in non-concessional contributions in one year, or you exceed the amount you can contribute under the bring-forward rules in the following two years after triggering the bring-forward rules. (For more information on the bring-forward rule see the SuperGuide article Bring forward rule: 10 facts you should know).
Ten tips for over-65s, when making super contributions
If you’re under the age of 65, you don’t have to be working to make super contributions. If you’re aged 65 or over, however, you must satisfy a work test to make super contributions. I explain the work test and the other contribution rules for over-65s in the SuperGuide article: For over-65s: Ten super tips when making contributions.
Additional 2015/2016 Contributions Guides
Click on the links below to access SuperGuide’s other contributions guides:
- Super concessional contributions: 2015/2016 survival guide
- Cashing in on the co-contribution rules (2015/2016 year)
For more articles covering non-concessional contributions and related topics…
The following SuperGuide articles may also be of assistance: