Super strategies

Top up your super with ‘catch-up’ contributions

If you have not fully used your concessional cap in a prior financial year, you may be eligible to use these unused carried forward amounts in a later year. This could help you to maximise tax-effective super contributions and invest more for retirement when circumstances allow.

How does the strategy work?

Since 1 July 2018, if your concessional contributions (CCs) in a financial year are below the annual CC cap, you’re able to accrue these unused amounts and carry them forward for up to five years. If you meet certain eligibility rules, you’ll be able to make larger CCs in a later financial year.

This may give you greater flexibility to make larger CCs when your circumstances allow. This may be helpful if, for example, you have irregular employment income or have had time out of the workforce.

What's the benefit?

The amount you contribute will generally be taxed at the concessional rate of up to 15%1. Once contributed, any earnings will also be taxed at a concessional rate, rather than your marginal rate, which could be up to 47%2. Depending on your circumstances, this strategy could result in a tax saving of up to 32% and enable you to increase your super.

Key conditions

To be eligible to utilise your carried forward CCs by making a catch-up contribution you must:

  • Have a ‘total superannuation balance’3 below $500,000 on the prior 30 June
  • Be under 75 and meet the work test rules (or be eligible to apply the work test exemption) if you’re aged 67 to 74, and
  • Have unused CC cap amounts accrued from one of the five prior financial years (but not before 2018/19)

Accruing unused CC cap amounts

The first financial year you could accrue unused CCs was in 2018/19. This means that the first year you were able to use these carried forward CCs was in 2019/20. Unused CCs amounts can be carried forward for up to five years before they expire.

Seek advice

To work out what your available carried forward CC balance is and how much you’re eligible to contribute, you may wish to speak to a financial adviser. Additional tax and other penalties may apply if you make contributions that exceed your available cap.

To work out your carried forward amounts, you need to confirm the total amount of CCs you have made in each financial year since 1 July 2018. You can access information about your contributions by logging on to Information displayed might not be up to date, so it is also important to keep accurate contributions records and enquire directly to your super fund before contributing.

Top up your super with ‘catch-up’ contributions

Case study

In 2018/19, Fatima made total CCs of $15,000, which was $10,000 less than the annual CC cap of $25,000.

Fatima took 12 months maternity leave from 1 July 2019 and didn’t make any CCs in 2019/20.

From 1 July 2020, Fatima returned to full-time work where her employer contributions (CCs) will again total $15,000. This is $10,000 less than the annual cap that applies in this financial year ($25,000).

Fatima receives an inheritance in 2020/21 that she wants to contribute to super.

The table below shows how she can carry forward unused CCs to make catch up contributions in a later year.

Financial year Annual CC cap amount Total CC cap including any carried forward CCs CCs made Unused CCs that may be carried forward
2018/19 $25,000 $25,000 $15,000 $10,000
2019/20 $25,000 $35,000 Nil $35,000
2020/21 $25,000 $60,000 $50,000 $10,000
2021/224 $25,000 $35,000 Not yet known -


Other key considerations

  • It’s important to check your total CCs for the financial year from all sources before adjusting your contribution strategy. CCs include:
  • Salary sacrificing may reduce other benefits such as leave loading and holiday pay.
  • For personal deductible contributions, you need to lodge a ‘Notice of Intent’ form and receive an acknowledgement from the super fund before certain timeframes, and also before starting a pension, withdrawal or rollover.
  • If you are not eligible to make catch-up CCs, tax penalties apply if you exceed the annual CC cap of $25,000.
  • You can’t access super until you meet certain conditions.

Important information and disclaimer

1. Individuals with income from certain sources above $250,000 in 2020/21 will pay an additional 15% tax on salary sacrifice, personal deductible and other CCs within the cap.

2. Includes Medicare levy.

3. Your ‘total superannuation balance’ includes all of your super accumulation interests and amounts held in superannuation income stream products. For more information, visit, and check your total super balance by logging into

4 .The CC cap may be indexed at the start of each financial year. We have assumed that the CC cap is not indexed in 2021/22.

This article has been reproduced with permission of MLC Investments Limited (ABN 30 002641 661, AFSL 230705) (MLC), a member of the National Australia Bank Limited (ABN 12 004 044 937, AFSL 230 686) group of companies (NAB Group), 105-153 Miller Street North Sydney 2060. Any advice provided is of a general nature only. It does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. Please seek personal advice before making a decision about a financial product. Information in this article is current as at 1 July 2020. While care has been taken in its preparation, no liability is accepted by Bank First GWMAS or its related entities, agents or employees for any loss arising from reliance on this article. Any opinions expressed constitute our views as at 1 July 2020. Case studies are for illustration purposes only. Any tax information provided is a guide only. It is not a substitute for specialised tax advice.

GWM Adviser Services Limited (ABN 96 002 071 749, AFSL 230692) (‘GWMAS’). A member of the National Australia Bank Limited (‘NAB’) group of companies. NAB does not guarantee or otherwise accept any liability in respect of GWMAS or these services.