What the increased general transfer balance cap means

By Janet Manzanero-Caruana, Senior Technical Manager

From financial year (FY) 2021-22 the general transfer balance cap will increase.

This article covers:

  • an overview of what is affected by these changes
  • partial indexation of transfer balance cap
  • the new $1.7 M total superannuation balance threshold
  • increase to defined benefit income cap

Overview of changes

The transfer balance cap (TBC), indexed to the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in $100,000 increments, will increase from $1.6M to $1.7M. The new $1.7M TBC will allow more superannuation interests to be rolled over to retirement phase (RP) income streams and allow more of your clients to make non-concessional contributions (NCCs). This is because the total superannuation balance (TSB) threshold at which the NCC cap is nil for the financial year, will increase to $1.7M. For this purpose the TSB is taken at 30 June of the previous financial year.

This means eligible clients can contribute more to superannuation.

While this is great news for clients, the increased general TBC will create more complexity for you as an Adviser. You will need to take extra care in establishing the correct transfer balance account (TBA) amounts for your clients who may have transfer balance caps between $1.6M and $1.7M from 1 July 2021.

As a result of the increase in the general transfer balance cap, the defined benefit income cap will also increase to $106,250 per annum in FY2021-22. This means certain recipients of capped defined benefit income which is in excess of a total of $100,000 per annum will benefit more from tax concessions.

Partial indexation of the TBC

RP income stream accounts enjoy the benefit of tax free income. Since 1 July 2017 the $1.6M TBC has limited the total superannuation a member can use to commence RP income streams. The $1.6M TBC will continue to apply to members who have used 100% of their TBC any time before 1 July 2021. The $1.7M TBC will apply to those who have not yet commenced an RP income stream (have no TBA) when this change takes effect on 1 July 2021.

While it is easy to establish TBCs for the above-mentioned, it is not the case for clients who commenced RP income streams prior to FY 2021 and not used 100% of their TBC. These clients will have TBCs between $1.6M and $1.7M because indexation will apply only to the portion of the TBC that was never used. In other words, indexation takes the highest ever balance in your TBA (not the balance just before indexation) and using that amount to calculate the unused cap percentage of your TBC, multiplied by $100,000 (see example 1 below).1

Example 1:

Carmen has the following transactions reported in her transfer balance account:

1 July 2017 - Had account-based pension #1 with a balance of $400,000

1 July 2018 - Commenced account-based pension #2 with $500,000

1 July 2019 - Commenced account-based pension #3 worth $300,000

30 June 2021 - She commuted $200,000 from account-based pension #1, causing her transfer balance account balance to reduce to $1,000,000.

Transfer balance account

DateTransactionDebitCreditTransfer cap
Unused transfer
balance cap
1/07/17 Account based pension #1 balance at 30 June 2017   $400,000 $400,000 $1,200,000
1/07/18 Account based pension #2 commenced   $500,000 $900,000 $700,000
1/07/18 Account based pension #3 commenced   $300,000 $1,200,000 $400,000
30/06/21 Commutation from Account based pension #1 $200,000   $1,000,000 $600,000

Carmen’s highest TBA balance was $1,200,000 therefore the TBC that was not yet used is $400,000 or 25% of $1,600,000. Carmen’s TBC increase will be $25,000 (25% of the $100,000 increase). Carmen’s TBC at 1 July 2021 will be $1,625,000 ($1,600,000 + $25,000).

Tech TIP: The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) will calculate the member’s new TBC. The TBC will be found in the member’s myGov account linked to the ATO. Where possible, advisers may encourage clients to confirm their TBA balances, TSBs and other superannuation details by logging into their ATO myGov account. Advisers should verify that any recent transfer balance account report (TBAR) events have been reported to the ATO and reflected in the client’s ATO myGov account.

Increased total superannuation balance (TSB) threshold

A member’s NCC cap is nil for the financial year where their TSB (which includes the balances of their pensions, accumulation accounts and any rollovers between these accounts)  at the end of 30 June of the last financial year equals or exceeds the general TBC. As a result of the increase of the general TBC to $1.7M more members can make NCCs in FY2021-22.  Eligible members on low income who have TSBs between $1.6M but less than $1.7M will be able to top up their super and receive the Government co-contribution and/or spouse contribution if they meet requirements, for example, members who are retirees, on maternity leave, or on a career break.

Increased defined benefit income cap

Income from capped defined benefit income streams which are generally non-commutable, referred to as defined benefit income, can benefit from tax concessions up to the defined benefit income cap for recipients who:

  • are aged 60 or older, or
  • are beneficiaries of death benefit capped defined benefit income streams where the member passed away at age 60 or older.

The defined benefit income cap is calculated as:

The general transfer balance cap/16

The increased general TBC increases the defined benefit income cap from $100,000 pa in FY2020-21 to $106,250 pa in FY2021-22. This is derived from:


Those who currently receive defined benefit income in excess of $100,000 per annum will have up to an additional $6,250 of that income benefit from tax concessions from 1 July 2021.

Defined benefit income is counted towards the defined benefit cap in the order below:

  1. Tax free and taxable (taxed) components are tax free up to the cap, then 50% of the amount exceeding the cap is taxed at the recipient’s marginal tax rate (MTR).
  2. Taxable (untaxed) component is taxed at the recipient’s MTR and a 10% tax offset arises for the amount within the cap to reduce tax payable

Example 4:

Albert, aged 65, receives $150,000 in FY2020-21 from a capped defined benefit pension with the following tax components:

Tax free and taxable (taxed) component (27%)
Taxable (untaxed) component (73%)
$150,000Total pension per financial year

The tax free and taxable (taxed) components ($40,000) count first towards the defined benefit income cap and are received tax free. The taxable (untaxed) component ($110,000) is taxed at Albert’s MTR. The taxable (untaxed) component within the defined benefit income cap is $60,000 ($100,000 - $40,000), therefore the 10% tax offset arising is $6,000 in FY2020-21.

In FY2021-22 Albert’s defined benefit pension increases to $155,250 per annum. The defined benefit income cap has also increased from $100,000 to $106,250. The new capped defined benefit pension tax components are:

Tax free and taxable (taxed) component (27%)
Taxable (untaxed) component (73%)
$155,250Total pension per financial year

The tax free and taxable (taxed) components equal $41,400 and are within the income cap, so are received tax free. The taxable (untaxed) component is $113,850 and taxed at Albert’s MTR. The taxable (untaxed) component within the defined benefit income cap in FY2021-22 is $64,850 ($106,250 - $41,400), therefore the 10% tax offset arising is $6,485 in FY2021-22.


The increased general TBC and TSB will be good news for clients who wish to accumulate more retirement savings enjoying generous tax concessions.

However these changes also add complexity for clients who wish to commence RP income streams because TBCs will have to be recalculated for certain clients.

Advisers must confirm exact TBCs and TSBs before recommending RP income streams and NCCs to avoid miscalculation, which could lead to an unexpected tax outcome.

1 Those currently receiving child pensions will not have an increased child death benefit TBC increment. However, if they receive their own RP income stream, their personal TBC may increase if they have not used 100% of the $1.6M TBC at any time before 1 July 2021
2 The TSB also includes certain SMSF Limited Recourse Borrowing amounts and reduced by any personal injury contributions.

More information

If you have any questions, or would like more information, please contact the IOOF TechConnect team on 1300 650 414.Disclaimer
The information in this section of the website is intended for financial advisers only and is not to be distributed to clients. It has been prepared on behalf of Australian Executor Trustees Limited ABN 84 007 869 794 AFSL 240023, IOOF Investment Management Limited ABN 53 006 695 021 AFSL 230524, IOOF Investment Services Ltd ABN 80 007 350 405, AFSL 230703 and IOOF Ltd ABN 21 087 649 625 AFSL 230522 based on information that is believed to be accurate and reliable at the time of publication.