Maximize Retirement Savings Claim Tax on After-Tax Super

As you approach retirement, maximizing your savings becomes paramount. One often overlooked strategy is claiming tax on after-tax superannuation (super) contributions. This strategy can provide significant tax benefits and boost your retirement nest egg.

Understanding After-Tax Super Contributions

Super contributions can be classified into two categories:

  1. Before-tax contributions: These are made from your pre-tax income, reducing your taxable income. Contributions made by your employer are also included in this category.
  2. After-tax contributions: These are made from your post-tax income, meaning they do not reduce your taxable income. However, these contributions provide the potential for tax savings upon withdrawal.

When you contribute to your super, you have the option of making before-tax or after-tax contributions. Most people opt for before-tax contributions as they provide an immediate tax benefit. However, after-tax contributions can offer significant long-term tax savings, especially in retirement.

Tax Benefits of Claiming Tax on After-Tax Super

Maximize Retirement Savings Claim Tax on After-Tax Super

When you withdraw after-tax super contributions in retirement, part of the withdrawal is tax-free. This is because you have already paid tax on these funds when they were contributed. Specifically, the tax-free component of an after-tax super withdrawal is:

  • 10% for contributions made before 1 July 2005
  • 30% for contributions made on or after 1 July 2005

By claiming tax on after-tax super contributions, you can effectively reduce the amount of tax you pay on the taxable portion of your withdrawals. This can result in a significant boost to your retirement income.

To illustrate this, let’s look at an example. John is 55 years old and has decided to contribute $10,000 per year to his super until he turns 65. He plans to retire at 65 and withdraw $500,000 from his super to supplement his retirement income. Let’s assume John is currently in the 37% tax bracket and will remain in the same tax bracket throughout his working life.

If John makes before-tax contributions, he will receive an immediate tax benefit of $3,700 per year (37% of $10,000). However, when he withdraws $500,000 from his super at retirement, the entire amount will be taxable. This means he will have to pay $185,000 in taxes (37% of $500,000).

On the other hand, if John makes after-tax contributions and claims the tax deduction, he will not receive any immediate tax benefits. However, when he withdraws $500,000 from his super, only $350,000 will be taxable ($500,000 – $150,000 tax-free component). This means he will have to pay $129,500 in taxes (37% of $350,000), resulting in a tax savings of $55,500 compared to making before-tax contributions.

How to Claim Tax on After-Tax Super Contributions

Maximize Retirement Savings Claim Tax on After-Tax Super

To claim tax on after-tax super contributions, you need to fill out a form provided by your super fund or the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). The form will allow you to claim a deduction for your after-tax contributions in your tax return. You can also request a rollover of your before-tax contributions to after-tax contributions to maximize your potential tax savings.

It’s essential to keep accurate records of your after-tax super contributions as you will need to provide evidence to support your claim in case of an ATO audit. Your super fund should provide you with an annual statement showing your contributions and any associated tax deductions.

Considerations Before Making After-Tax Super Contributions

Before deciding to make after-tax super contributions and claiming the tax deduction, there are a few things you should consider:

Contribution Caps

The ATO has set limits on the amount of contributions you can make to your super in a financial year. For after-tax contributions, the cap is $100,000 per year for individuals under 65 years of age. If you are aged between 65 and 74, you must meet the work test to make after-tax contributions.

It’s important to be aware of these caps as any contributions made above the limit will be subject to additional taxes. It’s recommended to speak to a financial advisor to ensure you don’t exceed the contribution limits and incur unnecessary penalties.

Age Restrictions

To claim a tax deduction for after-tax super contributions, you must be under 75 years old. This means if you are over 75, you cannot claim a tax deduction for after-tax contributions.

Superannuation Balance

Another consideration is your superannuation balance. If your super balance is close to or exceeds the $1.6 million transfer balance cap, you may not be able to contribute any further funds to your super. The transfer balance cap is the maximum amount you can have in the tax-free retirement phase of super. You must speak to your super fund or a financial advisor to determine if you are eligible to make after-tax contributions.

Other Benefits of After-Tax Super Contributions

Aside from the potential tax savings, there are other benefits to making after-tax super contributions:

  • Boost your super balance: As with any super contribution, after-tax contributions will increase your retirement savings.
  • Take advantage of compound interest: Any additional contributions made to your super early on in your career can benefit from compound interest. Over time, this can result in significant growth in your super balance.
  • Tax-free withdrawals in retirement: As mentioned earlier, a portion of your after-tax super withdrawals will be tax-free. This can provide a source of tax-free income in retirement, reducing your overall tax liability.
  • Flexibility in withdrawal options: Unlike before-tax contributions, after-tax contributions can be withdrawn at any time. This means you can access your funds in case of financial hardship or if you need to make a large purchase.

Risks of Claiming Tax on After-Tax Super ContributionsMaximize Retirement Savings Claim Tax on After-Tax Super

Before deciding to claim tax on after-tax super contributions, it’s essential to understand the potential risks:

Changes to Superannuation Laws

The Australian government regularly reviews and makes changes to superannuation laws. These changes can affect the rules around claiming tax on after-tax super contributions. It’s crucial to stay up-to-date with any legislative changes that may impact your retirement savings.

Market Volatility

As with any investment, there is an element of risk involved. Your super balance can be affected by market volatility, which could result in a loss of value. It’s essential to diversify your super investments to minimize this risk.

Lock-In Period

After-tax contributions are subject to a lock-in period, meaning you cannot access these funds until retirement or reaching the preservation age. If you withdraw these funds before this time, you may incur penalties and taxes. It’s crucial to ensure you have sufficient cash flow outside of your super to cover any unexpected expenses.


As you approach retirement, it’s crucial to make the most of your super contributions and maximize your savings. Claiming tax on after-tax super contributions is one strategy that can provide significant tax benefits and boost your retirement nest egg.

However, before making after-tax contributions and claiming the tax deduction, it’s essential to consider your contribution caps, age restrictions, and super balance. It’s also crucial to understand the potential risks involved and seek advice from a financial advisor to ensure this strategy aligns with your overall retirement goals.

Maximizing your retirement savings requires careful planning and understanding of the various strategies available. By considering all options, including claiming tax on after-tax super contributions, you can set yourself up for a comfortable and secure retirement.

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