Superannuation top-up brings on 93% tax

The AAT has affirmed an individual’s excess superannuation contributions tax liability. On 27 June 2008, the individual’s employer made a “top-up” superannuation contribution to a clearing account. However, the funds were not allocated to the individual’s superannuation account until 23 July 2008.

The AAT considered that the payment could not be said to have been “made” in the 2008 income year. This resulted in a $69,665 excess superannuation contributions tax liability for the individual, representing an effective tax rate of 93%!

The AAT also decided that there were no “special circumstances” in this case to warrant the Commissioner’s discretion under the tax law to reallocate the amount to the 2008 year. The AAT said that the imposition of a tax under the tax laws – even a large tax such as the effective 93% tax rate in this case – is not in itself “special circumstances”. There must be some “special circumstances” that exist beyond that in order to warrant the Commissioner’s discretion.

TIP: This case highlights the importance of managing the timing of all concessional contributions against an individual’s contribution caps for each financial year. As if this was not challenging enough, the concessional contributions cap has been frozen at $25,000 for 2012–2013 and 2013–2014, regardless of age. This unfortunately sets a trap for the unwary that could generate unexpected tax liabilities if contributions intended for June in a particular financial year are not “received” by the fund until July in the following financial year.

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