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Claiming super contributions as a tax deduction

Updated on 2 July 2024

3 minute read

Before you do your tax return this year, here's a question worth asking: Can you claim super contributions on your tax return? And should you? Let's see what you can claim and how to check if it's right for you.

Anne: Hello and welcome to Super Insider, where we chat to you about all things you need to know to make the most of your super. My name is Anne Fuchs and I'm the Executive General Manager of Advice, Guidance and Education at Australian Retirement Trust.

Now, before we begin, I'd like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land and waters where we’re recording this podcast today. And it's really important to remind you also that what we're discussing is general advice only, and you'll need to decide if it's right for you.

Now, it's really fantastic that we have Steven Fehring, one of our Member Education Officers on the podcast today. Welcome.

Steven: Thank you, thank you for having me. Tax!

Anne: Tax is sexy man, believe it.

Steven: Everyone's favourite topic, tax.

Anne: Well, when it comes to superannuation and tax, I reckon it's as close to sexy as you can get. Because there's so many amazing things in terms of the opportunities to build your wealth for retirement off the back of tax strategies with super.

Steven: Absolutely. Everyone loves paying less tax and I guess that's what this is about, is less tax.

Anne: Okay, so what are the main ways people can save for retirement, and save tax?

Steven: Yes, so essentially when you put money into superannuation, there are 2 ways that you can do it personally. One is through a salary packaging company or your employer, which is called salary sacrifice. The other way is to personally put that money into superannuation, and you claim a tax deduction on it.

So, really getting the difference between the 2 ways of putting money into super is what's important.

Anne: Okay. And what are the different tax rates for contributions?

Steven: Yes, so any contribution you claim a tax deduction on, or use for salary sacrifice, gets taxed the exact same rate in superannuation, which is 15 cents in the dollar. What really matters is your own personal marginal tax rate. So marginal tax rates, if you're over $45,000 per year, generally goes up to the 34.5 cents in the dollar.

And that's where the salary sacrifice, or claiming a tax deduction, really becomes important because you take your tax rate from 34.5 cents in the dollar down to 15 cents in the dollar.

Anne: So, if you're considering whether salary sacrifice is a great strategy for you to accumulate more wealth at retirement, this is one of the key considerations.

Steven: Yes, absolutely. The first thing I would do is, I would jump on an online salary sacrifice calculator, and there's websites like where you can check those calculators.

Anne: That’s the ASIC website, isn’t it?

Steven: Yes correct. They have a good calculator where you can put in your current income and say, I want to salary sacrifice - it could be $100 a week, $200 a week - and it will show you what that actual difference makes for you. And from there, should you want more guidance or more information, you can have a chat with your super fund, or a financial adviser will recommend the exact dollar figure you should be putting in the super.

Anne: So, what about claiming a tax deduction? How can you claim a tax deduction when it comes to super?

Steven: Yes, so this is quite new for superannuation. So about 3 years ago they changed the rules. It used to be you had to be self-employed to claim a tax deduction, but they opened it up for everyone. So, 3 or 4 years ago you put money into super and if you wanted to claim a tax deduction, it was not available to you. But now, if you're eligible, you may be able to do a post-tax contribution into super and claim a tax deduction on it. Just check with your super fund how they accept it. Most funds accept BPAY®. Put that money, via BPAY, into superannuation and then you can jump onto their website and claim a tax deduction online, or via a form.

Your super fund will write to you, and go 'Hey, you put in $10,000, you claimed a tax deduction on $10,000, here's the difference – we've taken 15% tax out'. You can take that to your accountant, and you can get that contribution in your tax deduction.

Anne: So how much super can I claim then as a tax deduction?

Steven: Very good question that one. It’s a little bit different for everyone because it does depend on age and super balance. Generally speaking, most people can claim a tax deduction up to $27,500 per year. But if your employee has contributed, that counts as well. However, in the future, we'll be putting in $30,000 before tax and possibly $120,000 post-tax when they get indexed next.

Anne: So, we're talking about the tax benefits of superannuation, but where do tax benefits not apply for people?

Steven: Let’s say you're in a higher income, you’re on $250,000 per year. When you're on $250,000 per year, any excess amounts to put in super get taxed at 30 cents in the dollar.

That said, at the moment, someone on $250,000 per year is being taxed at 47 cents in the dollar. So, you just have a few more considerations if you’re in a very high income.

If you're on a lower income, you're only being taxed at 19 cents in the dollar, or even a 0% tax rate. So, if you paid 15 cents inside of superannuation, that also may not be most helpful to you. Keep in mind though, tax rates are changing on 1 July 2024.

Anne: You’ve just highlighted Steven that there are so many rules around all of this, and so many ways to really maximise tax with super, getting advice is important.

Steven: Yes absolutely. It's one of those things, we all want to do what's best for us. And you might have spoken with someone who has a similar situation to you, but it's not going to be the same. And just that little rule – so being someone who's on $50,000 versus someone on $40,000 – sure it might be a similar job and similar pay, but very different things if they're trying to put money in the super. Who's going to have an advantage there, and who's not?

Anne: And accessing advice from your super fund around these simple things is something that members of Australian Retirement Trust can do as part of their membership fee. Picking up the phone, calling us, and getting an advice appointment.

Steven: Yes, absolutely, it’s 30 minutes of your day and you'll find a lot of value out of it.

Anne: So, Steven, if I've done all this research and I'm thinking, 'What's the best approach for me? Should I salary sacrifice, or should I claim a tax deduction?', where do I go for information, what should I be thinking about?

Steven: This can be a tough decision. With salary sacrifice, obviously you get the deduction every fortnight or whenever your pay-cycle is, so you get the immediate benefit of that salary sacrifice in your take-home pay.

However, for some people that doesn't work for them. You might have sporadic income. So, let's say you’re a tradie. You have might have a 30-day invoice system, or a 60-day invoice system. Having that salary sacrifice money go out every fortnight is going to impact your cash flow. So, for someone in a job that's less secure – a secure job, but the industry is less secure – they might decide to do a lump sum payment at the end of the financial year and then claim tax deduction on it then. There's no difference in tax rates. They're both taxed at 15 cents in the dollar. The only difference is one's done automatically, every fortnight, and the other one is just done when you're able to put that money into superannuation.

Most super funds have a way to claim a tax deduction. That might be via a paper form, or they might have an online portal for you. But the timing of that form is very important. You need to make that contribution before the end of the financial year, but you must let us know you intend to claim a tax deduction before you do your tax return or before the end of the next financial year, whichever comes first, or you won't be eligible to claim a tax deduction.

Another tip would be, let's say you're ready to retire and go into income phase. You must put that income, that intent to claim a tax deduction form, before you go to income phase or before you roll out to another super fund, otherwise it's not available. So just something to be aware of, timing is very important if you're going to make those post-tax contributions.

Anne: If you wanted to do your own homework, you mentioned the ASIC Moneysmart website and the calculator on there. Where else can you find information around tax, and the tax benefits with superannuation?

Steven: Yes, so most super funds will have a good explanation on it and the ATO website itself is a great spot, plus other podcasts like this.

Anne: Okay, there we go, nice plug for Super Insider, good on you. Thank you very much for joining us on tax and super. Hopefully we made it a little bit sexy. I encourage all our listeners to please review the episode, share with your family and friends and subscribe to Super Insider so you know when our next episodes are ready for you, and we'll look forward to you joining us again soon.

Are super contributions tax-deductible?

You may be able to claim a tax deduction for personal super contributions you've made to your superannuation fund from your after-tax income.

We also call these voluntary after-tax super contributions or non-concessional contributions.

An example is when you've sent money from your bank account directly to your super fund using BPAY®

What are the benefits?

Claiming a tax deduction for your after-tax contributions might mean paying less income tax.

But it depends on your situation.

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Before you claim

There are strict rules for claiming super tax deductions on your contributions. So, it's a good idea to talk to an accountant or tax agent before you go ahead.

Who can claim a super contribution tax deduction?

The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) sets the eligibility rules for claiming on personal super contributions. Here's your checklist:

  • You've made the contributions to an eligible super fund.

  • You meet the restrictions if you're under age 18 or over 67.

  • You've told your fund that you want to claim (called a 'notice of intent').

  • Your fund has let you know in writing that they've processed your request.

If you’re over 67

You'll need to meet the ATO's work test to claim a tax deduction on personal super contributions.

  • Work at least 40 hours over 30 consecutive days during the income year that you made the contributions.

But there's a one-off exemption if: your total super balance is under $300,000 at the end of the previous income year; and you've met the work test for that year.

If you're 75 or older

You can only claim for contributions you made within 28 days after the end of the month you turned 75.

Visit the ATO website for more details.

Before you claim a super tax deduction, check your limits

Knowing how super contribution caps work is important because if you go over these limits it may mean extra tax.

Personal super contributions that you claim as a tax deduction will count towards your concessional contributions cap. And they'll be subject to 15%1 contributions tax.

So, you'll need to think about how this affects you before going ahead with the claim.

If you go over your cap, you'll have to pay extra tax.

Is claiming a tax deduction for personal super contributions right for you?

It's a good idea to get professional advice before you go ahead. You can check in with:

  • Your accountant

  • A financial adviser

  • The ATO

How to claim super contributions on tax


Tell your super fund

You'll need to tell your super fund you want to claim a deduction before you lodge your tax return, or by 30 June the following year, whichever is earlier.

If you're a member with us, you can do this in Member Online or send us the ATO's paper form.


Wait to hear back from your fund

Like all Australian super funds, we'll write to let you know when we've processed your request.

Sometimes this can take a while, particularly if it's around the end of the financial year, so factor in some extra time.


Add it to your tax return

Put in how much you're claiming as personal super contributions in the Individual tax return supplement.

FAQs about tax deductions for super contributions

You can't get a deduction for First Home Super Saver Scheme (FHSSS) contributions that have been:

  • released to you for a first home deposit
  • re-contributed to your super account.

No, you can't claim a tax deduction on money added to your super as a downsizer contribution.

You won't get the government co-contribution for any non-concessional contributions that you claim on.

So, check which option is better for you.

Ready to claim a super tax deduction?

Let us know before you lodge your return – it's easy through Member Online.

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1. If your income, plus before-tax contributions, are over $250,000 per year, some or all of your contributions will be taxed at 30%. If you haven’t provided your super fund your tax file numbers (TFN), the super tax rate may be higher.