ATO overcharging tax for salary sacrificed super


NOTE: The information provided here by the author (Ruben Schade) is strictly provided “as is” with no warranties expressed or implied. The author’s opinions are his own, and do not constitute financial advise. Perform your own due diligence, and seek the advice of a qualified tax professional.

I’ve been voluntarily depositing more into my superannuation via salary sacrifice for many years. The Australian Tax Office makes it clear that the concessional contribution cap threshold since the 2017–18 financial year is $25,000, plus whatever cap you’ve carried forward since 2013–14. Any contributions you ask your employer to salary sacrifice beyond this point are liable to tax above the standard 15%.

So imagine my surprise when I was hit with a tax bill last year for excess contributions that didn’t add up to that! Clara and I slavishly bookkeep all our accounts, income, and expenses down to the cent, and I couldn’t get the numbers the ATO were claiming. I reluctantly paid the bill, assuming ignorance on my part.

This year I received another notice titled:

Act now - You have to pay tax on your Superannuation Excess Contributions

Uh oh, again!? But when I opened the attached PDF:

Your excess concessional (before tax) contributions previously included in your assessable income in the 2018-19 financial year have now reduced to nil as we have received updated information. Your income tax return has been amended to reflect this.

And a third letter was sent:

Interest on overpayment for Income Tax for the period from 01 Jul 18 to 30 Jun 19

I’m not sure if these sort of miscalculations are routine, or whether the tape head connected to the COBOL parser jumped when reading my files in 2018–19. If you were bitten by this too, it might be worth seeking advice.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person in bios. Hi!

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