Enhancing retirement outcomes using downsizer contributions
Legislation to make superannuation downsizer contributions (downsizer contributions)
has now passed enabling individuals who are 65 or over to contribute proceeds from the
sale of one eligible property to superannuation without needing to satisfy the work test.
The new rules provide more flexibility for retirees to fund their retirement using capital
released from their homes. From 1 July 2018, retirees can make downsizer contributions
and use the contributions to access superannuation retirement income products (subject
to their transfer balance caps).
Downsizer contributions are also exempt from the concessional and non-concessional
contribution rules and provide scope for retirees in different situations to enhance their
This article will examine the rules around making downsizer contributions.
For a contribution to be a downsizer contribution, the following conditions will need to
- At the time of the contribution, the individual is 65 or over (there is no upper age limit)
- The contribution is in relation to the sale of an eligible property (see below) that the
individual or their spouse owned just prior to the sale, and where the contract of
sale was entered into on or after 1 July 2018 (there is no requirement to purchase
- The total amount of downsizer contributions in respect of an eligible property does not
exceed the capital proceeds, or $300,000 per individual
- The contribution is made within 90 days after the change in ownership of the property
(usually the settlement date) unless the Commissioner has allowed a longer period; and
- The contribution is made using the approved form.
Cap on the amount of downsizer contributions
The amount of downsizer contributions is not governed by an individual’s concessional or
non-concessional caps (or their total super balance) and can be made in addition to these
contributions. However, the amount that can be contributed is capped at the lesser of:
- $300,000 for each individual; and
- the capital proceeds received (before any mortgage repayments).
For example, if a couple received $600,000 from the sale of an eligible property, they can
each contribute up to $300,000 as a downsizer contribution. If their property was sold
for $500,000 instead, the most they could contribute is $500,000 between them up to
$300,000 for each person (the combination does not matter) i.e. each could contribute
$250,000 or have one person contribute $300,000 and the other $200,000.
Importantly, downsizer contributions are not deductible and cannot be made in respect
of a second property regardless of how much was contributed for the first.
Although contributions can only be made in respect of one eligible property, multiple
contributions can be made for that property (to different superannuation funds for example)
if it is made within the above cap and timeframe (90 days).
For the property to be an eligible property, it must be located in Australia and cannot be a
caravan, houseboat or mobile home. In addition:
- The property must have been owned by the individual, their spouse or their former spouse
for 10 continuous years just before the sale of the property. This means the 10-year period
is still met where ownership changes between spouses (e.g. relationship breakdown
or death of a spouse) during the period.
The 10-year period is calculated from theday the ownership commenced to the day it ceased (usually the settlement dates). There are certain events that do not ‘break’ the continuous 10-year period
–– a property was vacant because it was destroyed or knocked down and a new home
–– a substitute property was purchased and owned for less than 10 years because the
former property was compulsorily acquired. However, the former property had to have
been initially acquired at least 10 years prior to the sale of the substitute property.
Note that all conditions of section 118-47(1) of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997
(ITAA97) need to be met in relation to the purchase of the substitute property, including
the requirement that the substitute property was purchased within a year after the end
of the financial year that the former property was compulsorily acquired.
- The individual must satisfy all requirements (apart from the fact that their spouse
owned the property) to qualify for a full or a part main residence capital gains tax (CGT)
exemption for that property. The property does not need to be the individual’s main
residence for the entire 10-year period or at the time of sale. It also does not need to be
owned by both members of a couple for each of them to make downsizer contributions.
For properties acquired before 20 September 1985 (pre-CGT asset), this requirement is still
met if the individual would have qualified for a full or part main residence CGT exemption
had the property been a CGT asset (it was not an investment property for the entire time
it was owned).
If you have questions or are considering downsizing, please contact your planner on 03 9851 0300