Before tax vs after tax? How to sort out your Super

06 January 2020

sorting your super

When it comes to Super and Taxation, many Australians have a lot of questions. Are you unsure about how to make super contributions? Don’t understand the difference between concessional and non-concessional components? Have a mental blank when it comes to anything with the word ‘tax’ in it?

Let’s start fixing that.

When you pay money into super, how it’s treated depends on where the money comes from.

Before tax (concessional)

When your employer pays into your super fund - including Super Guarantee and salary sacrifice payments, it’s called a concessional contribution. This is your employer getting a concession in the form of a tax deduction.

When the money goes straight into super rather than paid to you as salary (where you’d pay income tax), concessional contributions are sometimes called before-tax contributions.

If you pay money into super yourself and claim it as a tax deduction, then that becomes a concessional contribution as well. There’s a 15% tax on concessional contributions, so on a $1,000 contribution, you’ll have $850 in your fund after tax.

After tax (non-concessional)

If you pay into super from your pay after tax or savings – when you have already paid income tax yourself on the amount – and don’t claim a tax deduction, it’s called a non-concessional contribution.

There is no contributions tax on non-concessional contributions, So if you put $1,000 into super, you have the full $1,000 working for you. Remember that you probably paid tax of up to 47% including the Medicare Levy to earn that money.

Which one is best?

If you only look at the numbers, making before-tax contributions works best because paying 15% contributions tax is preferable than having the money paid to you as salary, which will be taxed at rates up to 47%.

That relatively generous tax treatment means the government puts caps on how much you can pay into super each year. Before tax contributions are capped at $25,000, with after tax contributions capped at $100,000. Pay more and you could be slugged with penalties.

If you want to dig down into the detail, there are other differences as well:


Before tax

After tax

Tax deduction on contributions



15% contributions tax payable



Annual contributions limit



Tax-free when withdrawn from super

Not always


Tax-free when paid to beneficiaries

Not always


Qualifies for spouse tax offset



Qualifies for LISTO




If you'd like more information about contributions call us on 1800 692 877.

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