While the end of the financial year can be a busy time professionally and personally, it is also a good time to take stock of superannuation and formulate retirement savings strategies for the year ahead.
At a glance
- The start of a new financial year represents a clearing of the slate for several limits and changes that relate to superannuation.
- It is advisable to be aware of any changes at an early stage, to be able to use them to their fullest potential.
- The flurry of activity associated with tax time can be overwhelming, but since the changes affect one’s tax situation, the impact or availability of superannuation concessions should be discussed with a financial adviser.
By Richard Webb
Updated 10 June 2021
The end of the financial year is often a mad dash for finance professionals. For many, the month of June is the end of the year professionally, and with that can come pressure to complete tasks, meet targets and finalise projects.
In one’s private life, there is also the realisation of the need to complete the tax return and plan for the new financial year.
However, the month of June also offers the best time to ensure that retirement savings are properly optimised, with the new financial year clearing the slate for a number of limits and changes relating to superannuation.
It always helps to be aware of changes relating to superannuation early, before it is too late to use them. However, it is also important to check with your financial adviser if you are uncertain about whether they apply to your particular situation.
Australians are able to make A$25,000 per year in concessional (pre-tax) contributions. On 1 July, you get to start on next year’s amount, which will increase to A$27,500. Concessional contributions consist of the total in contributions that you make, which are either deductible or never counted towards your taxable income in the first place.
These include the superannuation guarantee (SG) contributions that your employer makes, any salary-sacrificed amounts, and any other contributions you have made for which you would like to claim a tax deduction.
You can also claim any unused concessional amounts from previous years, going back to the 2018-19 financial year, if your total superannuation balance is less than A$500,000.
It is a good idea at this time of year to check the total in concessional contributions that your fund has received. If you have not quite reached your concessional contributions limit, this gives you the opportunity to add more.
However, don’t forget to notify your fund in the new year that you would like to claim a tax deduction.
If you belong to a defined benefit fund, contact them directly and ask to confirm your total, as it might not be the same as what is shown on your latest statement. Also, don’t forget to check all your superannuation funds if you are contributing to more than one.
Top trap: Forgetting about SG or salary-sacrificed amounts that your employer is likely to contribute before the end of the financial year.
Have you already hit your concessional contribution cap, but have more funds that you need to contribute towards your superannuation? You can also make contributions non-concessionally, or after tax, for up to A$100,000 in each financial year.
The end of the year, however, offers you an opportunity to enlarge this amount, since you will be able to also start contributing towards the 2021-2022 financial year total from 1 July 2021. The good news is that the limit to non-concessional contributions is also increasing to A$110,000.
If you are aged under 65, you may be able to bring forward contributions for the next two years, but be aware that you would not be able to contribute anything next year or the year after.
Top trap: Triggering your bring-forward amount in this financial year if there is more that you would like to contribute next year.
CPA Australia resource:
Tax and superannuation guides
The transfer balance cap, which restricts how much a retiree can transfer into the pension phase of superannuation (exempt from tax on earnings), will increase from A$1.6 million to A$1.7 million on 1 July 2021. Anything more than the cap cannot enter the pension phase.
Australians who are retiring with larger superannuation amounts may wish to consider deferring commencing their retirement income stream until after 30 June if they need to use that extra A$100,000.
The rules do not allow access to any of these funds if a retiree has already used their whole personal transfer balance cap prior to 1 July 2021.
This may also present issues if you already have some money in the pension phase, since any amounts you have contributed, less any commutations (or withdrawals, which are not pension payments), are counted towards your personal transfer balance cap.
Top trap: Not checking that you have already had a transfer balance account with the Australian Taxation Office after 1 July 2017.
Australians who are already in the pension phase would be aware that the minimum pension drawdown requirements have been reduced by half for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 financial years, due to adverse market conditions brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This allowed Australians drawing the minimum from their retirement income streams to reduce their drawdowns further.
The drawdown relief will be extended for another year. Members of funds who are drawing the minimum should not need to take any action. However, members of superannuation funds may take the opportunity to consider whether they are drawing enough to comfortably live on.
As markets have largely rebounded after the initial impact of the pandemic last year, this is also an opportunity for Australians to review how their superannuation is invested in the drawdown phase – for example, given that there may be a reduced incentive to pursue assets with higher levels of investment risk, consideration could be given whether your asset allocation is appropriate.
Top trap: Increasing your pension drawdown amounts up to the normal minimum on 1 July, if there is no need to do so.
Editor's note: The "Drawdown restrictions" section and "Top trap" were revised and updated on 10 June 2021.