Making DIY super contributions

Co-founder of the Switzer Report
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Concessional contributions

Concessional contributions, sometimes known as ‘pre-tax’ contributions, are contributions made by or for a member of fund that are included in the assessable income of your Fund. The Fund pays tax at 15% * on these contributions. Concessional contributions are employer contributions and those personal contributions for which a member will claim a tax deduction and include:

  • Employer super guarantee contributions (9.50% from 1/7/14) and additional voluntary employer contributions;
  • Salary sacrifice contributions;
  • Personal contributions made by a self-employed member for which the member claims a tax deduction; and
  • An allocation from a reserve to a member of an assessable component.

* Under current Government policy, individuals earning less than $37,000 pa will effectively have any tax refunded to their superannuation fund, up to a maximum of $500. Concessional contributions made on behalf of individuals whose adjusted taxable income is greater than $300,000 are taxed at 30%, rather than 15%.

Non-concessional contributions

Non-concessional contributions, sometimes known as ‘after tax’ contributions, are contributions made by or for a member of a fund that are not included in your fund’s assessable income. These include:

  • Personal contributions that you are not eligible to claim a tax deduction for;
  • Spouse contributions;
  • Contributions in excess of your concessional contributions cap; and
  • An allocation from a reserve of a non-assessable amount; and

There are also some contributions that are not included in your fund’s assessable income and are further specifically excluded from being counted in your non-concessional contribution cap. These include:

  • Co-contributions;
  • Small business CGT Cap contributions; and
  • Payments that relate to structured settlements or personal injury.

How age affects SMSF contributions

The age of each member determines whether contributions can be made and the maximum amount your fund can accept.

Under 65: Contributions can be accepted regardless of the member’s working status – no work test is needed.
Age 65-74: Employer and personal contributions can be accepted, provided you meet the work test in each year a contribution is made. To satisfy the work test, you must work for at least 40 hours during a consecutive 30-day period in the financial year. You need to be gainfully” employed, which means unpaid work doesn’t count. Spouse contributions can’t be accepted after you turn 70.
75 and over: Only employer superannuation guarantee contributions can be made. No other contributions can be made.

There is a provision that allows the trustee to accept a contribution for a member for a previous period of employment, provided you are satisfied that the member was eligible for the contribution to be made. For example, if the member has turned 65 and ceased employment, you could still accept a contribution relating to a past period of employment from their employer.

Contribution caps

Concessional and non-concessional contributions are capped as follows:

  • Concessional contributions: $30,000 per financial year
  • Non-concessional contributions: $180,000 per financial year

For those aged 50 or over (or will turn 50 during the financial year), a higher concessional cap of $35,000 applies.

From 1 July 2013, concessional contributions in excess of the cap are taxed at the same rate as if the member received that money as salary or wages. Excess concessional contributions are effectively taxed at the member’s marginal tax rate, plus an interest charge.

A member can elect to have any excess concessional contribution refunded by the superannuation fund. When this occurs, the excess concessional contribution will not be counted against the member’s non-concessional contribution cap. Otherwise, excess concessional contributions that remain in the fund are included in the non-concessional limit.

Excess non-concessional contributionsare taxed at 47.0%.

The Government has proposed changing the rules such that the excess could be withdrawn without penalty, together with any associated investment earnings. The investment earnings would then be taxed at your marginal rate.

Non-concessional ‘bring forward’ rule

If you’re under 65 years old at any time during the financial year, you can potentially bring forward the next two years of contributions. This means that you can contribute up to three times the non-concessional cap (or $540,000) at once, or over the next three years.

The ‘bring-forward’ is automatically triggered when your non-concessional contributions exceed $180,000 in a particular year. Once this happens, your non-concessional contributions over the next two years cannot exceed $540,000 less the contributions you made in the year the bring-forward was triggered.

Contribution splitting

A member can transfer super contributions made to their account during a year to their spouse’s super account, subject to the following rules and limits. This is more commonly known as contribution splitting.

Firstly, your spouse must be less than the preservation age (for most people, this is 55 years old), or if aged between 55 to 64 years, not retired. If your spouse is 65 years old or older, you are not eligible to ‘contribution split’. There is no test on your age.

The contributions that can be split are your ‘concessional contributions’ – contributions made by your employer, salary sacrifice contributions or if self employed, personal contributions where you are eligible to claim a tax deduction. You are eligible to split up to the lesser of:

  • 85% of your concessional contributions; and
  • Your concessional contributions cap for that financial year.

For example, if your spouse is aged 54 years and your concessional contributions during a financial year are $30,000, you could “split/transfer” up to $25,500 to your spouse’s superannuation account.

Applications to split contributions should be retained by the trustees (that is, as part of the fund’s records).

In specie contributions

As a trustee, you can generally accept personal and employer contributions in the form of an asset other than cash – the ‘in specie’ contribution. For example, your employer could make the contribution in shares or in options. If you accept ‘in specie’ contributions, you need to be extremely careful in relation the ‘related party rules’ – the fund can’t breach the acquisition of assets from related party rules.

Small business CGT cap

Contributions made following the disposal of qualifying small business assets are exempt from your non-concessional contribution cap, up to a lifetime limit of $1.395 million. This limit is for the 2015/16  financial year, and is indexed annually. Only contributions arising from certain capital gains can be excluded from the non-concessional contributions cap. These contributions are:

  • Up to $500,000 of capital gains that are disregarded under the small business CGT retirement exemption;
  • The capital proceeds from the disposal of assets that qualify for the small business 15 year exemption;
  • The capital proceeds from the disposal of assets that would have qualified for the small business 15 year exemption but do not because there was no capital gain, or the asset was a pre-CGT asset or the asset was disposed of before the 15 year ownership due to your permanent incapacity.

The effect of this concession is that if you are a small business owner, you can potentially contribute up to $1.395m under the CGT cap and $540,000 under your non-concessional cap (depending on your age) in one year into super. A member must notify the Trustee if this type of contribution is being made.

Making spouse contributions

You can make a contribution on behalf of your spouse. Any such contribution counts against your spouse’s non-concessional contribution cap. Your spouse must be eligible to receive that contribution (under 65, or if aged from 65 to 69, satisfy the work test). A spouse includes anyone who, although not legally married, lives with the person on a genuine domestic basis as “husband and wife”, including same sex couples.

Additionally, if you make a spouse contribution, you may be eligible for a tax offset of up to $540. The maximum offset applies if your spouse contribution is $3,000 or more, and your spouse’s assessable income (plus reportable fringe benefits and reportable employer superannuation) is less than $10,800.

Government co-contributions

The Commonwealth Government will contribute up to $500 for low income earners, provided they make a personal superannuation contribution of up to $1,000 and qualify under certain income and work tests. Personal super contributions are from your after tax dollars – they do not include salary sacrifice contributions, personal contributions for which you have been allowed a tax deduction, or spouse contributions.

The maximum co-contribution is $500. The co-contribution will apply if:

  • You made a personal superannuation contribution of up to $1,000 (contributions are matched by the Government at 50%);
  • Your total income was less than $35,454;
  • At least 10% of your income comes from eligible employment related activities; and
  • You are less than 71 years old at the end of the income year.

If your income is between $35,454 and $50,454, you are still eligible for a co-contribution, however the co-contribution is reduced by 3.333 cents for every dollar your income exceeds $35,454. For example, if your income was $45,454, your maximum co-contribution would be $167.

Income for this test is your assessable income for the financial year plus reportable fringe benefits for the financial year plus reportable employer super contributions less your allowable business deductions.

The co-contribution matches up to 50% of a personal contribution, up to a maximum of $500. For example, if your income was $28,000 and you made a personal super contribution of $600, the government co-contribution would be $300.

Accepting rollovers

You can accept a rollover superannuation benefit from a complying super fund provided your SMSF has elected to be regulated and obtained an ABN. There are no age restrictions on rollovers. You are generally not required to tax rollovers coming into the fund, unless the rollover contains an untaxed component (which may happen if the rollover is coming from an untaxed superannuation fund).

Contributions made without a TFN

You should ensure that you have obtained the Tax File Number (TFN) for each of your members. If a concessional contribution is made on behalf of a member where the fund has not obtained the member’s TFN, this will be classified as a ‘No-TFN contribution’ and will be subject to additional tax of 32.0%.

Allocating SMSF contributions

Finally, you should be aware that as a trustee, you are required to allocate contributions to members’ accounts within 28 days after the end of the month in which they were received.

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