Bring Forward Rule

In general, the superannuation contributions caps apply on a year by year basis.

The bring-forward rules allow for unused cap amounts to be used in later years, subject to conditions and limits. Two types of contribution can be carried forward: concessional and non-concessional. Each has different rules.

[March 5, 2020] As announced in 2019, draft legislation has been released to (among other measures) extend access to the bring‑forward arrangements to people aged 65 and 66. See Media release and Treasury Laws Amendment (More Flexible Superannuation) Bill 2020

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Non-concessional contributions
Concessional contributions
Non-concessional former rules
Former rules transitional measures

Non-concessional contributions bring-forward rules

The rules for non-concessional contributions were amended (along with transitional rules) with effect from 1 July 2017.

A maximum of $300,000 is allowed for bring forwards triggered after 30 June 2017, being 3 times the normal annual contribution cap of $100,000.

From 1 July 2017 for the 2017-18 year and following, the bring-forward requirements are triggered by a non-concessional contribution which is more than the $100,000 annual cap.

To access a bring forward arrangement (and thus avoid 47% tax on the excess over the $100,000 cap):

  • you must be under 65 at some point in the triggering year (there is legislation currently proposed to lift this age to under 67)
  • the total super balance at the beginning of that year must be at no greater than $1.5 million (currently).

From 1 July 2017 the available amount and period of bring-forward is dependent on the value of the total superannuation balance in relation to the general transfer balance cap, currently $1.6 million.

  • A fund value (total super balance) greater than $1.6 million has no available non-concessional cap.
  • Total super balance between $1.5 million and $1.6 million has the standard cap of $100,000 and no bring forward period.
  • Total super balance between $1.4 million and $1.5 million has a cap of $200,000 with a bring forward period of 2 years.
  • Total super balance less than $1.4 million has a cap of $300,000 and a bring forward period of 3 years.

The applicable total superannuation balance is measured as at 30 June of the previous financial year.

Non-concessional bring-forward periods from 2017-18 based on total superannuation balance at 30 June 2017

 Total super balance
at 30 June previous year
cap for the first year
Bring forward
Less than $1.4 million$300,0003 years
$1.4 million to less than $1.5 million$200,0002 years
$1.5 million to less than $1.6 million$100,000nil
$1.6 million and overniln/a

Concessional contributions carry-forward rules

From 1 July 2018 there is a 5-year carry forward of unused concessional contributions under the annual $25,000 cap.

Key features of the new measures are:

  • Unused concessional contributions cap from the new cap limit of $25,000 per annum can be carried forward for a maximum of 5 years.
  • The carry-forward can only be used in a year for which the total superannuation balance is less than $500,000 as at 30 June of the previous financial year.
  • The new rules start from 1 July 2018. Only unused cap amounts from 2018-19 and later financial years can be carried forward. This means that the first financial year in which unused concessional contributions can be utilised is 2019-20.

Previous (to 30 June 2017) 3-year bring forward for non-concessional contributions

Until 30 June 2017 the previous bring-forward rule provided a 3-year period of carry-forward for non-concessional contributions subject to certain conditions.

The rule is triggered in the first year that contributions go over the annual cap. (ITAA 97 s292.85(4))

Non-concessional contributions caps

Annual non-concessional contributions caps in the years before 2017-18 were:

  • for 2016-17 $180,000
  • for 2015-16 $180,000
  • for 2014-15 $180,000
  • for 2013-14 $150,000

Bring-forward calculation is based on the trigger year

The 3 year limit is calculated from 3 times the annual limit in the year that the bring-forward rule is triggered. A higher limit in a later year (e.g. 2014-15 $180,000 increased from $150,000 in 2013-14) does not apply if the bring-forward rule was already triggered in the earlier year, because it is the first-year limit which is used in the 3-year calculation.

e.g. If triggered in 2013-14, the 3-year limit is $450,000. Furthermore a contribution of $450,000 could have been made in 2013-14 without penalty, provided no other non-concessional contributions were made in the later 2 years.

If triggered in 2014-15 or 2015-16 (i.e. a contribution exceeding $180,000) then the three year limit would be $540,000.

The 3 year period commences in the year that the contributions cap is exceeded. The benefit of the rule is to allow the annual non-concessional cap to be exceeded in any one or two-year period without suffering a tax penalty, as long as the 3-year aggregated limit is not exceeded.

Contributions in excess of the contributions cap automatically attract tax equivalent to the top marginal tax rate plus medicare levy, although withdrawal rules can be applied.

Previous bring forward rule basic conditions

  • applies to non-concessional contributions – that is contributions for which a tax deduction is not claimed
  • age of member must be under 65 at any time in the first financial year (i.e.the year the 3-year rule is triggered)
  • a member aged 65 years or more in the 2nd and 3rd years can continue (but not trigger) contributions under the 3-year ceiling, but only subject to the work test requirements and the relevant later years’ non-concessional limit.

The work test for ages 65 to 74 years old require the member to be gainfully employed; i.e. paid work for at least 40 hours during a consecutive 30-day period in each financial year for which the super contributions are made.

Transitional rules for non-concessional contributions

The introduction of a lower non-concessional contributions cap from 1 July 2017 (and therefore lower bring-forward value) is subject to transitional rules for bring-forwards which had already been triggered before 1 July 2017.

Transitional maximum non-concessional bring-forward amounts*

*The introduction of the transfer balance of $1.6 million from 1 July 2017 further modifies available bring forward totals, according to how close the total super balance is to the cap on 30 June 2017.


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This page was last modified 2020-05-15