The first type of contribution you can make to your super are concessional contributions, made out of your pre-tax income. The most common form this takes is the contributions your employer makes, but it also includes salary-sacrificing and any personal contributions you make and claim a tax deduction for.
As of 1 July 2017, the limit on your concessional contributions is $25,000 a year, regardless of your age. In the past you could contribute less if you were younger than 50 years of age, but this rule no longer applies. The new cap is indexed to average weekly ordinary time earnings, rounded to the nearest $2,500, so the cap is liable to change each year.
If you don’t use the entirety of your concessional contribution cap in a given year, starting from 1 July 2018, you can roll over the unused portion to increase the amount you can pay in the next year. You can keep doing this for up to five years, at which point the oldest carry-forward amount will expire. However, you should note that you can only benefit from this if your super balance is less than $500,000 at the end of the previous financial year.
The second type of contribution you can make to your super is non-concessional contributions. These include any contributions made from your savings, from your after-tax income and that are made by your spouse.
As of 1 July 2017, the cap on non-concessional contributions is set at four times the concessional cap and is currently $100,000 a year. This limit applies to everyone, including people aged between 65 and 74, as long as they meet the work test.
Your non-concessional limit is $0 if your combined super balance, across all accounts you own, is equal to or greater than the general transfer balance cap of $1.6 million for financial year 2017-2018. This cap is a limit on how much money you can bring into your retirement from all super and pensions you are entitled to. You can find out more about this cap here.
As long as you are younger than 65 and have less than $1.5 million in super, you can increase the amount you can contribute non-concessionally in a single year by bringing forward up to two additional years of caps into the current year. This means that you could make a one-off payment of up to $300,000 in a single year, although this means you can’t make any additional non-concessional contributions for the rest of this year or the following two years.
Keep in mind that from 1 July 2018, people aged 65 and over to make a contribution to super of up to $300,000 from the proceeds of selling their home. These ‘downsizer’ contributions do not count towards either the concessional or non-concessional contribution caps and are not subject to the work or $1.6m balance tests for contributing to super. You can find out more about them here: https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Super/Super-housing-measures/Downsizing-contributions-into-superannuation/
Make sure that you check the current caps on contributions, as any excess can incur extra tax liability for you. This page will be updated as the caps change, and you can also check on the Australian Tax Office website for the current regulations.