Every year I post a blog about last minute superannuation contributions and there’s a reason for that – it can be a great strategy to build your wealth!
For most people, it’s a way to save tax, giving you a tax deduction for investing money for yourself.
Think about that for a minute – what other investment out there gives you a tax deduction for investing money for yourself? Most people look to rental properties to help them save tax, but rentals typically only help with tax if they are negatively geared and have a lot of expenses. Superannuation on the other hand, the tax deduction comes from the contribution – it’s pretty cool!
Now there are other reasons to make voluntary contributions such as access to the government co-contribution, eligible spouse contribution or maybe you simply want to transition some of your asset base into a tax-free pension environment. We will touch a little on these as well.
How superannuation may save you tax
Let’s start with looking at how superannuation can potentially save us tax. Before we begin please remember, this information is relevant to the current financial year only, that is the 2021/22 financial year. If you read this blog after 1 July 2022 then there is a good chance that some of the rules have changed.
If you are under the age of 67 you have the ability to make a tax-deductible contribution to your superannuation. If you are over 67, but under 75, you may also have this same opportunity provided you meet the work test which means you must have worked at least 40 hours within 30 consecutive days in a financial year. Over 75 and the door has closed.
There are some changes coming to the work test next financial year, that’s the 2022/23 financial year, but I won’t confuse you with those details now.
A tax-deductible contribution saves you tax by allowing you to claim the contribution as a tax deduction when you lodge your tax return. This may even mean you get a tax refund! Let me give you an example of how this works.
Let’s say you earn $100,000 gross (before-tax) per year and have no other investment income and have no deductions. Throughout the year you should have paid $23,767 in tax through PAYG. When you lodge your tax return you don’t have any additional income to declare nor deductions to claim. As a result, you will not owe anything to the tax office nor will you receive a tax refund – the PAYG was spot on so you are all squared.
In the same situation lets assume you make a $10,000 tax-deductible contribution to superannuation. In this instance, you still would have paid $23,767 in PAYG tax throughout the year but now you have a $10,000 deduction to claim. As a result, the ATO will calculate that you have paid $23,767 in tax but only owe them $20,017 so you will get a tax refund of $3,750!
This can also be particularly handy in offsetting a realised capital gain. So if you know you are going to have to pay tax when you lodge your return, a cheeky super contribution may help soften that blow.
Now of course, everyone’s tax calculation is different, and the amount of refund will vary depending on many factors. However, as this basic illustration demonstrates, getting a tax deduction for contributing to super is a beautiful thing!
Not only will you save money in personal income tax, when the money hits your super fund, it will be invested, and the compounding can begin.
But of course, like with everything, there are some restrictions around these contributions and potential downsides that you need to consider. Let’s look at the restrictions first.
As we already touched on, there are age restrictions which will limit your ability to contribute to super. In addition to this, there are contribution cap limits which you need to abide by each year.
A tax-deductible contribution to super will form part of your concessional contributions cap which, in the current financial year, has a $27,500 cap limit.
Employer contributions and salary sacrifice contributions will also fall under this cap limit so before you make any contribution it is best that you check your super fund to see how much space you have left in your cap limit. Remember to also account for expected contributions which are still to come in prior to 30 June.
You also have the ability to utilise any carry-forward unused concessional contributions. From 1 July 2018, if you haven’t utilised your full concessional contributions cap limit you can carry forward the unused amount for up to 5 years provided your total super balance is below $500,000 on 30 June in the previous financial year.
The easiest way to find out how much carry-forward concessional contributions you have available is to log into your MyGov account, click on your linked ATO services > Super > Information > Carry-forward concessional contributions.
Before making a contribution, consider this…
Assuming you are eligible to make the contribution and you have the cap limit available to do so, there are still a few considerations that you should take into account before making a contribution.
Firstly, it is important to note that concessional contributions are taxed by your super fund at a rate of 15%. Given this, it is not tax effective to make a concessional contribution if you earn less than roughly $20,000 as you basically pay no tax outside super. The net tax saving from a concessional contribution can be calculated as the difference between your marginal tax rate and your superannuation tax rate of 15%.
If you are fortunate enough to earn over $250,000, then you will get slugged with the Division 293 tax. This is an additional 15% tax on any contribution that would otherwise take your income over the $250,000 threshold. However, although you would essentially be taxed at a rate of 30% on super contributions, this is still a whole lot better than the top marginal tax rate of 47% when medicare levy is included.
Once inside superannuation you won’t be able to access funds until you meet preservation age. Now I won’t go into detail here about how to access your super, as that is a huge topic on its own, but if you were born after 1 July 1964 then your preservation age is 60. There are some limited circumstances in which you could potentially access your super early such as a deposit for a first home, financial hardship or compassionate grounds.
Before making a contribution, you should understand how your funds are invested inside super. I always say to people, you should treat your super fund with as much consideration and intent as you do with the funds sitting in your bank account. It is YOUR money for YOUR retirement and therefore you should know the investments and the fee structure within YOUR super.
You have until 30 June to get your voluntary contributions into super. The contribution is counted in the financial year in which it is processed and allocated by your super fund, not when the money was sent. Keeping this in mind, it is best to send in your final contribution prior to the 15th of June to allow for processing time.
Making the contribution is easy. All you need to do is contact your super fund and ask for banking details. Most super funds will allow you to either BPay the contribution or deposit the money via bank transfer (EFT). There will be a reference number to list in the description which will ensure the funds are allocated into your account.
Once the contribution is in, it is time to fill in a Notice of Intent to claim form which can be found on the ATO website. By completing this form, you are letting your super fund know that you intend to claim a tax deduction for the contribution and therefore your super fund will allocate it as a concessional contribution.
Upon processing of the form, your super fund will send you out an acknowledge of the Notice of Intent. If you use an accountant to help with your tax return, they will want to see this before claiming the deduction.
And that’s it! You have successfully made a contribution, had it allocated correctly and are ready to claim a tax deduction. If you do this, you will thank yourself twice – once when your tax bill shrinks and again in retirement when your super fund is looking juicy.
Other reasons for making last minute contributions
As I touched on at the start of this blog, there are other reasons why you might want to make a last-minute super contribution, other than to claim a tax deduction. Without going into too much detail, these reasons include:
- Government Co-Contribution. If you earn less than $41,112 and you make a $1,000 non-concessional contribution into your super, you may be eligible for the $500 government co-contribution. If you earn between $41,112 and $56,112 you may receive a reduced co-contribution payment.
- Eligible spouse contribution. If your spouse earns less than $37,000 and you make an eligible spouse contribution of $3,000, you may be eligible for a $540 tax offset.
- Transition assets into super. As you approach retirement it may be a good idea to utilise your super to house as much of your asset base as you can. Why? Because, subject to certain eligibility requirements, you can turn your super into an account based pension which is a tax free entity – no tax on income, capital gains or pension payments.
Under the above scenarios you may look to utilise non-concessional contributions which have a whole new set of cap limits and rules which I won’t overwhelm you with now. However, if you are looking to utilise the above, I suggest you do some research on non-concessional contributions prior to making the contribution.