Topping up 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. Depending on your circumstances, this could help you to maximise tax-effective super contributions and invest more for retirement.

How does the strategy work?

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. This applies to unused cap amounts since 1 July 2018 and can be carried forward for up to five years. This means 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, fluctuating income, or have had time out of the workforce.

What’s the benefit?

The amount you contribute is generally taxed at the concessional rate of up to 15%¹.

Once contributed, any earnings are also taxed at a concessional rate of 15%, 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 savings.

Key conditions

To be eligible to utilise your carried forward unused 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 67, or aged 67 to 74, and meet the work test rules (or be eligible to apply for the work test exemption), 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. Unused CC amounts can be carried forward for up to five years before they expire.

Case study

In 2018/19 and 2019/20, Fatima made 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 2020 and didn’t make any CCs in FY 2020/21.

From 1 July 2021, Fatima returns to full-time work where her employer contributions (CCs) total $15,000 in 2021/22 and 2022/23. This is $12,500 less than the annual cap that applies in these financial years ($27,500).

Fatima receives an inheritance of $50,000 in 2022/23 that she wants to contribute to super.

The table below shows how she can carry forward unused CCs to make catch-up contributions in 2022/23 in later years.

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 $15,000 $20,000
2020/21 $25,000 $45,000 $0 $45,000
2021/22 $27,500 $72,500 $15,000 $57,500
2022/23 $27,500 $85,000 $65,000 $20,000

  • 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:
    ? Contributions made for you by your employer as well as an estimate of any further employer contributions for the year
    ? salary sacrifice contributions, and
    ? personal contributions that you claim a tax deduction for.
  • For personal deductible contributions, you need to lodge a ‘Notice of Intent’ form and receive an acknowledgment 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 $27,500 in FY 2022/23.
  • You can’t access super until you meet certain conditions.

Seek advice
Your financial adviser can help determine whether this strategy is right for you. They can also help you to work out what your available
carried forward unused CC balance is and how much you’re eligible to contribute. 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 The 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.

¹ Individuals with income from certain sources above $250,000 in FY 2022/23 will pay an additional 15% tax on salary sacrifice, personal deductible, and other CCs within your cap.
² Includes Medicare levy.
³ Your ‘total superannuation balance’ includes all 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

Important information and disclaimer
This document has been prepared by Actuate Alliance Services Pty (ABN 40 083 233 925, AFSL 240959) (Actuate), a related entity of Insignia Financial Ltd ABN 49 100 103 722. The information in this document is factual in nature. It reflects our understanding of existing legislation, proposed legislation, rulings etc as at the date of issue (27 March 2023), and may be subject to change. In some cases, the information has been provided to us by third parties. While it is believed the information is accurate and reliable, this is not guaranteed in any way. Examples are illustrative only and are subject to the assumptions and qualifications disclosed. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance, and it should not be relied on for any investment recommendation. To the extent that the information in the document contains general advice, it has been prepared without considering any person’s individual objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider the appropriateness of the general advice in light of your own objectives, financial situation or needs.

This document is not available for distribution outside Australia and may not be passed on to any third person without the prior written consent of Actuate. Whilst care has been taken in preparing the content, no liability is accepted by Actuate or any member of the Insignia Financial group, nor their agents or employees for any errors or omissions in this document, and/or losses or liabilities arising from any reliance on this document.

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