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What are concessional contributions?

No matter how close or far away it might be for you, saving for your retirement could be one of your biggest long-term goals. And a huge part of that could be to understand how you can make your super work for you to give you the best chance of living your retirement dreams. After all, that’s what superannuation is designed for – to be a tax-effective way to boost your retirement nest egg. When discussing super or planning your retirement, you might have heard the term ”concessional contributions”. But what exactly are concessional contributions, and how can they help boost your super savings for retirement? Let’s take a closer look.

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Key takeaways:

  • Concessional contributions are contributions made into your super before-tax.
  • The annual cap for concessional contributions is $25,000 for the 2020-2021 tax year and $27,500 for the 2021-2022 tax year.
  • Understanding the difference between concessional and non-concessional contributions and how they work is key to making the most of your super.

What are concessional contributions?

Concessional contributions are contributions made into to your superannuation fund before-tax. They're often referred to as ‘pre-tax contributions’ for this reason. They generally make up the majority of your super contributions as they include contributions your employer makes into your super and are taxed at 15%. To find out more, view the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website.

Concessional contributions can come from several sources, including:

What’s the difference between concessional and non-concessional contributions?

Understanding the difference between concessional and non-concessional contributions, and the limits around them, is key to making the most of your super account and retirement savings.

Concessional contributions are paid into your super before tax is deducted. Depending on your personal income tax rate, they can be a tax-effective way to boost your super balance, as they only attract 15% tax.

In contrast, non-concessional contributions are voluntary contributions you make after-tax from your bank account or other savings. They differ from concessional contributions like salary sacrificing because tax has already been paid on the funds used to make the contribution. Topping up your super with a voluntary, non-concessional or after-tax contribution could also be a clever way to boost your super balance for the future.

There are several types of contributions that are considered non-concessional (after-tax), including:

Learn more about non-concessional contributions.

Is there a cap for concessional contributions?

There is a limit on concessional contributions and therefore the lower tax rate.

Currently, the concessional contribution cap is $25,000 for the 2020-2021 tax year and $27,500 for the 2021-2022 tax year. Any concessional contributions you make over the cap are included in your taxable income and taxed at your marginal tax rate, with an additional excess concessional contributions charge.

What if I don’t reach the cap?

If you contribute less than the concessional contributions cap, you can carry forward the cap. Basically, if you do not contribute up to the concessional contributions cap (e.g. $25,000) for a particular financial year, you may be able to carry the remaining cap balance forward so you can contribute more than $25,000 (or $27,500 if the 2021-2022 tax year) the following year.

There are some rules that apply to carry-forward concessional contributions, including:

  • It only applies to unused concessional contribution cap amounts from July 2018 onwards.
  • Any amounts eligible to be carried forward expire after five years.
  • You can only carry forward concessional contributions if your total super balance was less than $500,000 at the end of the previous financial year.

How can I make sure I don’t go over the concessional contributions cap?

Going over the cap on concessional contributions could leave you with extra costs. According to the ATO, you may be able to avoid exceeding the cap by following these steps:

  • Be aware of what the cap is
  • Keep tabs of what your super balance is
  • Check when your employer (or employers, if you have more than one job) pays your contributions and when they are received by your super fund. The ATO says contributions count towards a cap in the year your super fund receives them, not when they were paid.
  • Consider stopping or reducing any before-tax contributions to your super, if you think you may go over your concessional contributions cap in the current financial year.

For more information on concessional contributions, you can visit our contributions page. You can also find out more about salary sacrifice on our website.


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