How to date your super contribution

SMSF technical expert and columnist for The Australian newspaper
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When does the Tax Office consider a super contribution to have been made? It may seem like a silly question, but the date on which you make a super contribution may not necessarily be the same date that the contribution is received – and that can have consequences.

Making sure your super contributions fall within the periods you mean them to is important to make sure you can control the tax effectiveness of the fund. If your contribution lapses into a different period, you may exceed your contribution cap and be hit with a tax penalty.

Likewise, if you’re over 65, then the timing of when a contribution has been made may actually determine if that contribution is legitimate or not, and if it’s not, then that money will also be taxed at a very high rate that will make you wish you never put it there in the first place. And remember, it’s exactly because of the tax breaks afforded to super that we put our money there in the first place.

Here’s a summary of how the Australian Tax Office determines the date that a contribution is made:

This one is fairly straightforward. Contributions made using money or money equivalent (this includes cheques, bills and in some cases promissory notes) are dated from when it’s received by your super fund. This will not apply if a cheque is subsequently dishonoured. If a cheque is post-dated, the contribution date will be determined by selecting the later of either the date shown, or the date received.

Electronic Funds Transfers are dated from when credit enters into a super fund’s bank account.

Money order or bank cheques are dated by determining either the date the fund receives it or the date the payment can be demanded. It won’t be received if it’s dishonoured. If the cheque is delivered by a related party, the contribution will be dated on the day it’s received by the super fund if it’s presented a few business days after receipt.

Property or in-specie contributions will be dated from when legal or beneficial ownership passes to the super fund. If you want to rely on a change in beneficial ownership, then you’ll need to retain sufficient evidence of the transaction.

In particular, for some types of property this might be when a super fund acquires legal possession of the property. For other types of property, ownership might move to your super fund when a deed of transfer is executed.

For ASX-listed companies or unit trusts, a contribution is made when a super fund receives a properly completed off-market share transfer form.

As you can see, working through when a contribution has been made is sometimes difficult. Careful record keeping is often required.

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Also in the Switzer Super Report

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