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Understand the limits to tax-effectively grow your super
Making additional contributions to your super can be a great way to save for retirement, as long as you're aware of the superannuation contribution caps and transfer balance cap set by the government.
The Australian government sets limits on how much you can tax-effectively add to your super each year.
Contributing too much could mean you pay extra tax.
There is also a transfer balance cap, which limits how much super you can move into one of our retirement
There are two types of super contributions:
Once you turn 67, you'll need to meet the work test or work test exemption for any contributions other than your employer's
Superannuation Guarantee (SG) contributions.
Concessional contributions come out of your pay before income tax, so you only pay the 'concessional' rate of 15% tax when it goes into your super. (Or 30% if your income plus super contributions is more than $250,000 per year.)
Non-concessional contributions come out of your or your spouse's take-home pay after you've paid income tax.
This table shows how much you can contribute per financial year from 1 July 2021.
The carry-forward and bring-forward rules are explained in more detail below.
Once you turn 67, you need to meet the work test or work test exemption to make your own contributions to your super. Your employer will still be able to make SG contributions to your super.
You can track contributions to your QSuper account anytime in our mobile app or in Member Online.
And you can use the ATO's online services to monitor your contributions at other super funds, check
total super balance, and more. Log in through myGov.
If your total super balance is less than $500,000 at 30 June, you can ‘carry forward’ any concessional contributions over a rolling 5-year period.
This means if you don’t use the full amount of your concessional contribution cap ($27,500 in 2021-22), you can carry forward the unused portion and take advantage of it up to 5 years later. Carry forward amounts expire after 5 years if you haven't used them.
For example, if you receive $10,000 in before-tax contributions in 2021-22, the $17,500 unused portion of your cap is effectively rolled over and added to your concessional cap for 2022-23, so you would be able to receive up to $45,000 in before-tax contributions in that financial year.
Until 1 July 2021, the cap was $25,000. The carry-forward rule was introduced on 1 July 2018, so you can only carry forward your cap since then.
If you're under age 67, you can bring forward up to 3 times your non-concessional (after-tax) contribution cap – so up to $330,000.
Once you turn 67, you can no longer access the bring-forward rule.
If your total super balance is more than $1.48 million, refer to the FAQs below for your cap.
What happens if you go over the contribution caps depends on whether your contributions are before-tax or after-tax.
If you go over the concessional (before-tax) contribution cap
Any contributions you make over your before-tax limit are taxed at your marginal tax rate, with a 15% tax offset.
After you lodge your tax return, the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will let you know you've exceeded the cap, and explain your options:
If you decide to leave the excess funds in your super account, you can elect to pay the additional tax yourself or you can send the ATO a release authority and they'll tell us to pay the excess from your account on your behalf. Any amounts we release for tax no longer count towards your non-concessional contribution cap.
If you go over the non-concessional (after-tax) contribution cap
If you go over your after-tax contributions limit, the ATO will send you details after you lodge your tax return, and explain your options:
If your total super balance is more than $1.48 million, you may not be able to access the full bring-forward rule:
For these purposes, your total superannuation balance is determined on 30 June of the previous financial year.
There is a limit on the total amount of superannuation you can transfer to a retirement income stream without paying additional tax. This is known as the transfer balance cap.
For the 2021-22 financial year, the general transfer balance cap is set at $1.7 million.
However, your transfer balance cap depends on your circumstances, so each person will have a transfer balance cap between $1.6 and $1.7 million. To check the balance of your personal cap, you can check your ATO online account using myGov.
All of your account balances combined across any income streams or pension accounts count towards this limit - either at QSuper or other super funds (not including Transition to Retirement Income accounts). For our Lifetime Pension, your initial purchase price counts towards the transfer balance cap.
Visit the Australian Taxation Office for more information.
If you’re a Defined Benefit account member, we use a formula to calculate your concessional contributions as notional taxed contributions.
Refer to the Defined Benefit Guide (pdf) for more information.
If you withdrew some of your super early because of the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can choose to recontribute that amount back into your super as a personal contribution. It is not included in your contribution caps and you can't claim the contribution as a tax deduction.
Since this is a new rule introduced from 1 July 2021, the government and the industry are still developing the recontribution process. For more information, please see the ATO's More Flexible Superannuation page.
There are some exclusions to the contribution caps, such as the government co-contribution. Read our Personal Contributions Guide (pdf) for details.
Learn how to make concessional and non-concessional contributions and decide which option is right for
Complete the form in Member Online to claim a tax deduction for your personal contributions
(non-concessional, after-tax contributions).
You can get personal financial advice over the phone about how to contribute to your super and how much
to put in.