What is Salary Sacrifice and is it still relevant?

What is Salary Sacrifice and is it still relevant?

Under the current rules, the maximum amount of “concessional” superannuation contributions that can be claimed by an individual is $25,000.00 per annum. This is referred to as the “Concessional Contributions Cap”. Concessional contributions refer to those contributions that are claimable as a tax deduction by the person or entity paying the contribution. They include employer contributions, salary sacrifice contributions and personal deductible contributions.

A salary sacrifice arrangement is where an employee agrees with their employer to reduce their gross salary in return for the employer making a larger contribution (above the normal 9.5% of salary) to the employee’s superannuation fund. The benefit that arises is due to the difference in tax rates between that of a superannuation fund (which is 15%) and the marginal tax rate of the employee which is usually much higher. The following table illustrates the benefit from a typical salary sacrifice arrangement.

Note that in this example, the take home pay is reduced by $9,403 but the amount in the employees super fund has increased by an additional $13,175, an overall increase in after tax income/savings of $3,772 or 4.6%.

One of the obvious downsides of salary sacrificing is the reduction in take home pay. These arrangements are also “prospective” in that they must be put in place only in relation to future earnings and can’t be used to make lump sum contribution amounts out of past earnings such as accrued leave entitlements.

Up until 30th June 2017, the so called “10% rule” applied where you could only claim personal contributions if your income from employment was less than 10% of your total income. This restriction meant that for many employed individuals, the only way to make deductible personal contributions to reduce their taxable incomes was via a salary sacrifice arrangement. With the changes applying from 1/7/2017, employees can now make additional personal contributions to their superannuation fund at any time during the year and this can be an alternative (or supplement) to salary sacrificing. The important thing is to remember that total concessional contributions should not exceed the cap of $25,000 and this cap includes; superannuation guarantee contributions by the employer, salary sacrifice contributions and personal deductible contributions.

Bob Locke – Chartered Accountant & SMSF Specialist

The information provided in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal circumstances, needs, objectives or financial situation. This information does not constitute financial advice. Before acting on any information in this article, you should consider its appropriateness in relation to your personal situation and seek advice from an appropriately qualified and licensed professional.

New England Self-Managed Super Fund Information Day

Featuring experts from SMSF Association, Stewart Partners, Moin Morris Schaefer and Practical Systems Super, the New England SMSF Information Day is an event for SMSF Accountants, Advisers and Trustees and will focus on developing your technical knowledge, practical skills and know-how in managing an SMSF.

Kim Collins, Tamworth

“I have been a Chartered Accountant for approximately 38 years, 28 of those being as a Principal or Partner in Accountancy Practices.

I have known Bob for 30 of those years in his position as a Chartered Accountant also.

I commenced my first Self Managed Superannuation Fund in June 1984.

When Superannuation Fund Regulations required Self Managed Superannuation Funds to be audited, Bob was appointed as auditor of my Funds.

Over the period that Bob has been auditor of my Self Managed Superannuation Funds I have not only received a Professional Service from him as an auditor but also proactive advice in respect of my role as a Director of the Corporate Trustees of the funds. As a result I have no hesitation in contacting Bob in respect of any query that I may have in respect of Self Managed Superannuation and as such would have no hesitation in recommending Bob as a Self Managed Superannuation Specialist.”

SMSF Association Technical Day Series

Challenge your understanding of the rules which shape your SMSF advice with case-study based, interactive workshops followed by comprehensive technical sessions. 

You’ll be introduced to topics of increasing importance in the overall framework of advice, ensuring the best interests of your SMSF clients. Hear the latest developments in SMSF legislation, regulation and interpretation of complex theories and strategies.

Practical Systems Super is proud to be the official SMSF Association conference partner at the Brisbane and Sydney events this year. We will have staff available to talk to you about all of your SMSF administration and software requirements for your business.


23 Jul 2019
8:00 am AEST – 6:00 pm AEST


Mercure Hotel Brisbane
85-87 North Quay
Brisbane, QLD 4000

CPD Points:



1 Aug 2019
8:00 am AEST – 6:00 pm AEST


Building 10
Level 7/235 Jones St
Sydney, NSW 2007

CPD Points:


Beyond the contribution caps

Most professionals are aware of the general limits or “caps” on superannuation contributions. Despite there being no laws preventing fund members from making unlimited contributions, most understand that there can be significant financial consequences associated with exceeding those caps. It is important to remember that there are specific measures which allow for contributions beyond the usual maximum amounts permitted. These can present important planning opportunities which may otherwise be overlooked.

The general contribution caps

There are defined annual caps or maximum amounts that are prescribed for the various types of superannuation contributions. The applicable caps for the two major contribution types are:

  • Concessional contributions – $25,000 per annum. These include employer contributions, salary sacrifice and personal contributions claimed as a deduction.
  • Non-concessional contributions – $100,000 per annum and only available if the Total Superannuation Balance of the member is below $1.6 Million.

Consequences of exceeding the contribution caps

It is not possible to simply withdraw excess contributions from the fund (even if they were made by mistake) and the individual concerned will need to wait until the Australian Taxation Office issues a determination notice. Briefly, the consequences of exceeding the contribution caps can be summarised as follows:

  • Excess concessional contributions – the excess contributions will be taxed at the members’ marginal tax rate and there is generally an additional charge which is effectively interest on the additional tax payable. Up to 85% of the excess contributions can be withdrawn from the fund and any excess amounts not withdrawn will be treated as non-concessional contributions with possible flow-on effects from excess non-concessional contributions.
  • Excess non-concessional contributions – there are basically two options here; (a) elect to withdraw the excess in which case 85% of the associated earnings on the excess amount will be added to the member’s personal taxable income and taxed at their marginal rate of tax, or (b) elect not to release the excess and have the full amount of the excess taxed in the fund at the highest marginal tax rate of 47%.

Measures which allow contributions beyond the general caps

It is clear that making excess contributions will generally lead to a situation of paying additional tax and produce an overall negative financial outcome for the member concerned. However, there are a number of specific measures which allow for contributions beyond the usual maximums and these can be incorporated into strategies with significant benefits to the member. Here are some examples:

Example 1 – utilising the 5 year catch up provisions for concessional contributions

Fred is employed on a salary of $86,000 pa and has had employer contributions of $8,170 made each year from 1/7/2018. His current total superannuation balance is $250,000. Towards the end of the 2022/23 financial year, Fred sells an investment property and makes a gross capital gain of $200,000. His accountant advises that he will be up for additional tax of around $39,300. 

Fred could consider a concessional contribution to his superannuation fund of up to $84,150 which is the amount of his unused concessional cap since 1/7/2018. This would reduce the additional personal tax to $6,000 and after allowing for the 15% contributions tax on the $84,150 into the fund, Fred’s net saving would be around $20,600.

Example 2 – claiming 2 years concessional contributions using a contribution reserving strategy

Katie is self-employed and for the year ended 30/6/2019 estimates her net business income at $180,000. She has planned for some time to take a “year off” and travel, and has arranged this to commence in the following year and so is unlikely to have any significant income for that year. Katie currently has $750,000 in her Self-Managed Superannuation Fund and is about to sell an investment property which is expected to realise a gross capital gain of $100,000. The additional net capital gain will attract tax of around $23,500.

Katie decides to contribute two amounts of $25,000 to her superannuation fund; one in December 2018 and one in mid-June 2019. The effect of this will be to reduce Katie’s personal tax by $23,500 and after allowing for the 15% contributions tax in the SMSF, her net saving is $16,000 which is double the amount saved if she simply contributed the $25,000 cap amount.

Note that there are several essential elements for this strategy to be effective:

  • The “second” contribution of $25,000 has to be made in June as the SMSF will have to “reserve” this amount for a maximum period of 28 days i.e. when the contribution is received in June, it is allocated to a contributions reserve and then allocated to Katie’s account in the Fund in early July
  • Katie will need to complete a “Request to adjust concessional contributions” form to ensure that the Australian Taxation Office does not treat the additional $25,000 as an excess concessional contribution.
  • Generally, this strategy can only be used by those who have a self-managed superannuation fund.


Example 3 – using the CGT contributions limit for proceeds from the sale of a small business and combining with the home “downsizer” contributions and other measures

Rose took over the family farm  25 years ago and having reached the age of 66, decides to sell up and move to the coast to be near family. The farm is sold for $2.5 million and after taking advice, Rose decides to move the maximum amount possible into a newly established self-managed superannuation fund. Settlement of the farm is expected in May and she would like all the financial arrangements to be in place by 30th June.

Rose’s goal of achieving the maximum possible superannuation balance in the specified time frame could be achieved using a combination of available strategies as follows:

  • Make non-concessional contributions of $300,000 utilising the 3 year bring forward option (now available to those aged 65 and 66)
  • Make a CGT contribution up to the maximum allowed for 2018-19 of $1.48 million
  • Make a “downsizer contribution” of $300,000 (in relation to Rose’s home which was part of the farm). Note that these contributions are not treated as non-concessional and are not subject to the usual Total Super Balance Cap
  • Make a concessional contribution of $25,000
  • Make a second concessional contribution of $25,000 (as per example 2)
  • Total amount contributed is therefore $2,130,000
  • Rose then commences a retirement phase pension with a balance of $1.6 million, leaving $530,000 in accumulation phase.


Take out point

Even though there are basic defined caps for the main contribution types (as well as the general overriding Total Super Balance Cap of $1.6M restriction), there are specific measures that may suit particular circumstances where additional contribution strategies may be relevant and beneficial. Always consider the particular circumstances of the individual and look beyond the basic contribution caps.

 Bob Locke – CA SMSF Specialist – CEO of Practical Systems Super

The information and examples provided in this article are general in nature and do not take into account personal circumstances, needs, objectives or financial situation. This information does not constitute financial or taxation advice. Before acting on any information in this article, the reader should consider its appropriateness in relation to their personal situation and seek advice from an appropriately qualified and licensed professional.

Software firm launches new SMSF administration service

By Miranda Brownlee | SMSF Adviser |
An accounting software firm has developed a new SMSF administration service aimed at accountants and financial advisers.

The new administration service, Practical Systems Super, has been developed by Armidale based software firm Practical systems, which has been offering specialised accounting and management software for small business and agribusiness clients since 1992.

Practical Systems chief financial officer Bob Locke said he decided to launch the new service in order to reduce the administration and compliance burden of SMSFs for financial professionals and trustees alike.

Over his 35 years of working as an accountant and taxation expert, Mr Locke said he has watched the increasing complexity in the administration and compliance of SMSFs in the face of ever-changing government regulation.

“From my previous experience with software development, it was clear that a good software platform would go a long way towards making the task much more efficient,” Mr Locke said.

“The cloud-based system allows all SMSF records and documents to be kept in the one easily-accessed location facilitating the sharing of information between stakeholders, such as accountants, auditors, advisers, and clients.”

Mr Locke said he expected an increase in the number of SMSFs being implemented by family and farming businesses.

“There are around 600,000 SMSFs in Australia and this number is steadily growing,” Mr Locke said.

“There is significant potential for rural and regional businesses to utilise self-managed superannuation. Often these businesses are family owned and SMSFs can be a great way to accumulate off-farm or non-business assets, thereby greatly assist with the succession process.

The use of SMSFs can allow family farms or businesses to be passed onto the next generation without the need for the sale of assets or the younger generation to take on debt to support the retirement of the previous generation, he said.

Currently, Practical Systems Super’s services are available to accountants and advisers.

The company plans to expand to software-only offerings in the next year and the platform is to be flexible in the face of future superannuation changes.

“Practical Systems Super sees opportunities to meet the needs of smaller accounting firms and financial advisers, as well as supporting individual trustees directly,” said Mr Locke.

New SMSF admin platform launches

A new one-stop-shop SMSF solution that aims to help financial advisers keep on top of administrative and regulatory burdens has launched.

Practical Systems Super meets the needs of small accounting and advice firms by providing services such as fund setup, financial recordkeeping and investment monitoring.

Founder Bob Locke said the cloud-based software solution provides an SMSF service to clients without the burden of keeping up compliance, licensing and auditing requirements.

“Practical Systems Super is completely independent of any financial institution or organisation and entirely Australian-based. One of our objectives is to achieve cost-efficiencies for the benefit of our clients through smart technology, rather than through lower labour costs via overseas outsourcing,” he said.

“Recent changes to superannuation regulations has resulted in the need for real-time administration and monitoring of SMSFs, particularly when fund members start to draw down on their accumulated benefits.”

Armidale-based Locke also created Practical Systems Super’s software Cashbook

Bob Locke examines the federal budget from his perspective.

2019/20 Federal Budget Overview

Bob Locke, founder of Practical Systems Super, examines the 2019 Federal Budget. 

Over my 35 years of working as an accountant and taxation expert, I have watched the increasing complexity in the administration and compliance of SMSFs in the face of ever-changing government regulation.

On the back of an improved fiscal position, the budget was clearly designed for an election year with no surprises or “hits” and where most people will benefit from tax cuts.

The slated tax reductions will increase consumer disposable income. In the context of the current lower than average consumer confidence, you could expect some of this to be saved (rather then spent) and some of these savings could flow into superannuation.

It’s good to see that the budget position is finally heading back into surplus but paying down the existing debt is going to require a sustained discipline on the part of current and future governments.

The 2019/20 Budget and superannuation

There were very few measures in this year’s budget relation to superannuation.

I think this is a good thing and very wise given the massive changes made over the last few years (i.e. changes to contribution caps, introduction of the Transfer Balance Cap and Totals Super Balance cap, etc.).

Any changes to superannuation arrangements tend to impact negatively on general confidence in superannuation – negative changes especially, but also positive changes can influence the general perception that “governments are always changing the rules and I can never be sure how my superannuation savings will be affected in the future”.

In my experience, younger people in particular are often skeptical about making additional contributions to super as constant changes undermine their confidence in a system where the government is supposed to be supporting and encouraging provision for their retirement.

To find out more about how the budget will impact on your SMSF call the office on 1800 951 855.

DBA Lawyers Annual Update Service

DBA Lawyers Annual Update Service DBA is a leading SMSF law firm that also advises on tax and related matters. Their main clients include accountants, financial planners, SMEs and high net worth individuals who need to access quality technical services and documentation in their practice areas. They are a progressive firm that presents regularly at seminars around Australia o pass on practical expertise to advisers and therefore also have an Australisn wide client base.

Updated Annual Update Service website coming soon!

The website for DBA Lawyers’ Annual Update Service will soon be updated with a number of improvements for subscribers.

In addition to an updated interface and ease-of-use features, the updated website will be fully integrated with DBA Lawyers’ online ordering platform and will have enhanced security features.

There will be a brief offline period for the website as part of the roll-out from 5pm AEDT Friday 22 March 2019 to 9am AEDT Tuesday 26 March 2019 to facilitate the transition.

Please contact DBA Lawyers if you have any queries or concerns regarding the new website.

What is the Annual Update Service?

The Annual Update Service provides a convenient and sound way of ensuring that SMSFs’ governing rules are kept up to date. This in turn gives SMSFs maximum strategic flexibility, compliance and peace of mind.

It works on the following basis:

  • Upon subscription, an SMSF is given a secure Homepage which you can log into from the DBA website.
  • Tailored resolutions can be downloaded from the homepage.
  • New governing rules (and accompanying PDS materials) for the SMSF are contained on the SMSF’s homepage. By executing the tailored resolutions, those governing rules will become the governing rules for the SMSF.
  • Every 1 July, the following will occur:
    • A new set of governing rules will be added to the SMSF’s homepage. This by itself has no legal effect.
    • Trustee resolutions adopting the new governing rules will be placed on the SMSF’s homepage and a reminder will be emailed out.
    • The resolutions are printed and executed by the relevant parties. Upon execution, the new governing rules will be adopted by the SMSF.

A reduced fee of $137.50 for updating the SMSF governing rules of a fund applies if payment is made via direct debit. If you do not choose direct debit, you will be sent an invoice each 1 July for $165 and will only receive access to your updated governing rules upon payment.

Advisers Advisers log in just like anyone else, but they have their own personalised adviser homepage. On the adviser homepage, advisers see a list of all of their SMSF clients who subscribe to the Annual Update Service. Advisers can drill down to the homepage of each SMSF, where advisers can access the current and all prior versions of the governing rules for each of their SMSF clients. Advisers can also upload scanned copies of executed resolutions as well as scanned copies of any prior documents (eg, deed of establishment). This way, each SMSF’s Homepage can become a repository for the SMSF deed documents. All SMSF clients will have the same governing rules each financial year. This means that advisers only need to familiarise themselves with one set of governing rules.

Trustees If you like, you can nominate that one or more of your advisers has access to your SMSF’s personalised homepage. Typically these advisers include accountants, auditors and financial planners. If you do not want to allow any advisers to have access to the homepage, this is also fine.