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  • Your six-step super check

    Managing your super doesn’t need to be difficult or time-consuming. You can simply:

    • find out about your super entitlements
    • do our six-step super check to help sort out and grow your super.

    You might like to do the check at least once a year – for instance, when you're doing your tax or in the new year. It’s also a good idea to review your super when you start back at work after a break, change jobs or when you are planning to retire.

    Find out about:

    Your super entitlements

    Super is money set aside over your lifetime to provide for your retirement. If you look after your super now, you will have more money to enjoy later. Retirement may seem a long way off, but the great thing about super is that it works for you while you’re doing other things.

    In most cases, if you have a job, your employer has to put money into your super account. This is called the super guarantee (SG) and it’s the law.

    If you've set up and are running your own small business, don't forget to invest in super for yourself.

    From 1 July 2017, regardless of your employment arrangement, you may be able to claim a full tax deduction for personal contributions you make to your super fund until you turn 75 years old. Keep in mind that contributions you make may be subject to extra tax if they exceed the contributions limit for that year.

    See also:

    Your eligibility for super

    Generally, you’re entitled to SG contributions from your employer if you’re at least 18 years old and paid $450 or more (before tax) in a month. It doesn’t matter whether you’re full time, part time or casual, or if you’re a temporary resident of Australia. If you’re less than 18 years old you must meet these conditions and also work more than 30 hours a week.

    If you’re a contractor paid 'wholly or principally for labour', you’re considered an employee for super purposes and entitled to SG under the same rules as employees.

    Since 1 July 2013, you must be paid super if you're:

    • aged 70 years or over
    • working
    • are eligible.

    You may not be eligible if you are paid to do domestic or private work for no more than 30 hours per week.

    Next steps:

    Your employer's contribution

    If you’re eligible for SG, your employer must pay a minimum amount based on the current super guarantee rate of your ordinary time earnings into your super account at least every three months.

    If you need help to calculate the amount of super guarantee your employer should be paying, you can use our Estimate my super tool.

    Example

    During the first quarter of the 2021–22 financial year (1 July – 30 September 2021) Julie's ordinary time earnings were $8,000.

    The super contribution Julie's employer must make for her for that quarter is:

    • 10% × $8,000 = $800.

    Under the super guarantee law, employer must pay a minimum amount based on the current super guarantee rate of the ordinary time earnings of an employee.

    End of example

    Choosing a super fund

    Most people can choose the super fund they want their super paid into, as long as it’s a complying fund under Australian regulations. Having multiple super accounts could mean you are paying multiple fees and charges, which may reduce your retirement savings.

    You don't need to choose a new super fund every time you start a new job. You can usually choose to have your super paid into your current super fund account. Keeping the one super fund can help save on fees and charges over time.

    See also:

    The six-step check

    There are six simple things you can do that can make a difference to your super savings over time, meaning more money for you when you retire:

    1. Check your super statements
    2. Make sure your fund has your TFN
    3. Keep track of your super using myGov
    4. Consider government contributions
    5. Put extra money into your super
    6. Nominate your super beneficiary

    1. Check your super statements

    Generally, your super fund will send you a statement at the end of the financial year or provide an online service so you can check your balance any time. The annual statement provides you with information about:

    • your balance
    • contributions made to your account during the year
    • any insurance cover you have with the fund
    • fees and performance.

    In addition to a statement, most funds provide an online facility that allows you to login to check your account at any time.

    It is important to check that your employer is paying the correct amount of super on your behalf. If you are unsure how much your employer should be paying you can use the Estimate my super tool. If your employer is not paying the correct amount, you can report this to us online.

    Many super funds arrange life and disability cover for their members, for a fee. Having insurance for accidents and illness can provide a sense of security for you and your family. However, it is important you know what cover you have as you might have similar cover under another type of policy. This might mean you are paying for the same cover twice.

    When checking your statement, you should take note of the fees. Super funds charge you fees for the services they provide. Generally, a super fund with low fees will build your savings faster.

    Checking your super statement is a good time to see if you have any other super.

    See also:

    2. Make sure your fund has your TFN

    If your super fund has your tax file number (TFN), it will make it easier for them to report your super account information to us. It also helps us display your super information to you when you use our online services, and helps you keep track of your super.

    You can check if your fund has your TFN by looking at your super statement. If your TFN is not listed, contact your fund and give it to them. The benefits of providing your fund with your TFN are:

    • your fund will pay less tax on employer contributions (and pass the savings on to you)
    • you are less likely to lose track of a super account
    • you will not miss out on government super payments – for example, the government co-contribution
    • you will be able to make personal (after tax) contributions to the fund.

    See also:

    3. Keep track of your super using myGov

    You can create a myGov account and link to the ATO to:

    • see details of all your super accounts, including any you have lost track of or forgotten about – use the YourSuper comparison tool to compare the performance and fees of your super accounts against other MySuper products
    • see details of your total super balance and your transfer balance cap
    • find ATO-held super – this is money the ATO is holding for you and may include government super contributions, amounts received from employers and super amounts received from super providers.
    • combine multiple super accounts by transferring your super into your preferred super account. If this is a fund-to-fund transfer, it will usually be actioned within three working days. Before you consolidate accounts, you may want to seek advice on fees this may incur or insurance cover you may lose.

    Next steps:

    4. Consider government contributions

    If you're a low- or middle-income earner, the government may help boost your savings through the super co-contribution.

    The co-contribution is a government payment you may get if you make personal (after-tax) super contributions into a complying super fund account. It is paid directly into your super account. There is a maximum income limit that is indexed each year.

    To receive the maximum co-contribution ($500), you need to earn $36,021 or less and put $1,000 into your super account during 2017–18. If you put less than this amount into your super over the year, the government will match up to half your payments, depending on what you earn. The minimum amount payable is $20.

    If your income is over $36,021, the co-contribution rate reduces by 3.33 cents in every dollar until the maximum income limit is reached ($51,021 for 2017–18). Then the co-contribution is phased out completely.

    Example: Super co-contribution

    Angela earns $36,000 a year. She pays $40 per fortnight from her take-home pay into her super account for 2017–18 (this will total $1,040 for the financial year).

    With this payment plan, Angela will be eligible for the maximum rate of co-contribution for 2017–18 ($500).

    We will pay this amount into Angela's super account between November and January after the 2017–18 financial year.

    End of example

    See also:

    5. Put extra money into your super

    You can make payments into your super fund account over and above the SG rate your employer pays on your behalf. This can really help to build your super over time, and can help you make up for periods when you are not working. Even small amounts will make a difference.

    Salary sacrifice

    Salary sacrifice is when you and your employer make an agreement to pay some of your before-tax (gross) salary or wages into your super.

    If you want to make salary sacrifice contributions, talk to your employer to make sure they allow it and that you understand the benefits. For example:

    • salary sacrifice reduces your tax assessable income
    • super contributions are taxed in your super fund at 15%, which is usually less than you would pay if you took the money as salary.

    Example: Salary sacrificing into super

    Emily earns $58,000 a year (gross). She enquires with her human resources team and finds out that her employer offers salary sacrifice arrangements.

    Emily arranges to have an extra $200 a fortnight ($5,200 a year) paid into her super account before tax. This is in addition to the super her employer pays into her super account on her behalf.

    Normally, Emily would pay $10,397 tax (not including the Medicare levy) a year on $58,000.

    By salary sacrificing $5,200 into her super, Emily helps build her super and pays less tax.

    She is taxed on $58,000 less $5,200 ($52,800). The tax payable on $52,800 is $8,707.

    Emily not only adds $5,200 more into her super a year, but saves $1,690 in tax.

    End of example

     

    Example: Concessional contributions cap

    Jenny earns $100,000 a year (gross) and her employer contributions are $9,500.

    In the 2021–22 financial year, Jenny wants to make additional contributions to her super fund.

    She organises to contribute $350 to her super before-tax by salary sacrificing every two weeks.

    By contributing $350 of her gross income every two weeks, Jenny is making concessional contributions of $9,100 for the year.

    The sum of Jenny’s employer contributions ($9,500) and salary sacrifice contributions ($9,100) is $18,600.

    Jenny’s concessional contributions cap for the 2021–22 financial year is $27,500. Because Jenny’s employer contributions and salary sacrifice contributions are less than $27,500, Jenny does not exceed the concessional contributions cap.

    End of example

     

    Example: Exceeding the concessional contributions cap

    Bob earns $160,000 a year (gross) and his employer contributions are $15,200.

    For the 2017–18, 2018–19 and 2019–20 financial years, Bob contributed $14,000 to his super each year before-tax by salary sacrificing. The sum of Bob’s concessional contributions each year was $29,200.

    By making yearly concessional contributions of $29,200, Bob was not exceeding the concessional contributions cap, as for these financial years, the concessional contributions cap was $30,000 per year (or $35,000 if over the age of 49).

    From 1 July 2021, the concessional contributions cap is $27,500 for all ages. Following on from Bob's previous example, he chooses not to reduce his before-tax salary sacrificed contributions and continues to make concessional contributions of $29,200 for the 2021–22 financial year.

    Because the concessional contribution cap reduced to $27,500 for the 2021–22 financial year, we determine that Bob is in excess of the concessional contributions cap by $1,700. 

    We amend Bob’s income tax return and includes the excess amount of $1,700 as assessable income with an offset for the amount already taxed in the fund. We also apply the excess concessional contributions (ECC) charge as the tax is collected later than normal income tax.

    We issue Bob with a Notice of Amended Assessment and an excess concessional contributions determination to advise him of the amount of his excess concessional contributions and ECC charge.

    The determination advises Bob that because he has exceeded the cap by $1,700, he may:

    • remove up to 85% of the excess contribution amount from his super, or
    • pay the liability from his own sources.

    Bob chooses to release 85% of the excess concessional contributions. He lodges the election form through myGov. Once the election form is received, we issue a release authority to Bob’s nominated fund. They are required to release the maximum amount available to us.

    The released amount will offset any of Bob’s Commonwealth debt and will refund any remaining balance direct to Bob.

    End of example

    There are limits on how much you can contribute to super each year before being charged extra tax, depending on your age for the year.

    The caps on before-tax, or 'concessional' contributions are:

    • $30,000 if you're under 50 years old in the 2016–17 financial year
    • $35,000 if you're turning 50 years old or older in the 2016–17 financial year.

    Note: From 1 July 2021, the concessional contributions cap was reduced to $27,500.

    See also:

    After-tax contributions

    After-tax, or non-concessional contributions, are generally contributions you make into your super fund after tax has been paid on the money. They include:

    • personal contributions you make from your after-tax pay that you are not allowed to claim as an income tax deduction – these contributions can qualify for the government co-contribution
    • contributions your spouse makes to your fund on your behalf.

    See also:

    Example: Non-concessional contributions cap

    Katie receives an inheritance from a family member of $170,000 in the 2020–21 financial year. She contacts her super fund and finds out that she has a total superannuation balance of $600,000.

    She decides to contribute the inheritance to her super fund as a non-concessional contribution.

    From 1 July 2021 the non-concessional contributions cap is $110,000 per year. Because the amount Katie wants to contribute is over $110,000, she triggers the ‘bring-forward’ arrangement.

    A ‘bring–forward’ arrangement allows Katie to contribute up to three times the annual non-concessional contributions cap in a single year by bringing forward her cap for a two or three-year period.

    To access the non-concessional bring-forward arrangement, you must be under 65 years of age for one day of the first year and have a total superannuation balance of less than $1.6 million at the end of 30 June 2021.

    As Katie satisfies these conditions, she can contribute the full $170,000, leaving her with a remaining non-concessional contributions cap of $160,000 over the three-year period.

    Katie can continue to contribute up with $160,000 in the remaining two-year period without exceeding her three-year bring forward cap.

    If Katie contributes more than this, she will have excess non-concessional contributions.

    End of example

     

    Example: Exceeding the non-concessional contributions cap

    Simon is 44 years old and has recently sold his property in the 2021–22, leaving him with a $300,000 profit.

    He decides to use the profit to add funds to his super fund, which has a total superannuation balance of $1.5 million.

    Because Simon already has $1.5 million in his super fund, Simon’s non-concessional contribution cap is $100,000. He cannot access a bring-forward arrangement as his total superannuation balance cannot exceed $1.7 million.

    Simon chooses to add the full $300,000 to his super fund as a non-concessional contribution, causing him to exceed his cap by $100,000.

    We determine that Simon has exceeded the non-concessional contributions cap by $100,000 (plus any associated earnings that the excess may have accrued) and sends him a determination to advise him of his excess contribution.

    The determination advises Simon that because he has exceeded the cap by $100,000, he must:

    • release 100% of the excess amount (plus 85% of the associated earnings) from his fund and have the associated earnings taxed at his marginal rate and receive 15% of associated earnings as a tax offset; or
    • pay excess non-concessional contributions tax on the excess amount.
      This is the equivalent of the excess amount being taxed at the highest marginal rate (45%) plus the Medicare levy (2%).

    In this instance, selecting this option would mean Simon would pay a penalty of $47,000.

    Simon chooses to release the excess amount (plus 85% of the associated earnings) from his fund.

    He lets us know of his decision by completing an excess non-concessional contributions election form which he accesses from his myGov account.

    We send Simon’s fund a release authority form, requesting release of the nominated amount.

    Simon’s fund has 20 business days to release the funds to us and advise us of completion. The released amount will offset any of Simon’s Commonwealth debt and will refund any remaining balance direct to Simon.

    End of example

    See also:

    Planning for work breaks

    Making extra super contributions while you are working can help prepare you for work breaks such as parental leave.

    If you have a spouse, they can also make super contributions on your behalf and may be entitled to a tax offset for this. From 1 July 2017, the spouse income threshold for the tax offset increased from $13,800 to less than $40,000, meaning more people will be eligible.

    See also:

    6. Nominate your super beneficiary

    It’s sensible to think about what you want to happen to your super when you die. People can die unexpectedly at any time, so you should consider this as part of setting up and managing your super from the outset.

    Super is likely to be one of the biggest assets you accumulate in your lifetime. The money adds up over time, yet many don’t think about it or even see it as their own money.

    When a person’s super is paid after their death it’s called a ‘super death benefit’, which is made up of the deceased person’s super fund account balance and any associated insurance benefit. Even if you don’t have much super, the insurance payment could be worth thousands of dollars.

    Generally, super is not included in your will. Wills cover assets that you own such as your house, car, savings and personal items. Because your super is held in trust by your super fund trustee, it is governed by different laws, compared to the laws relevant to wills and estates.

    To make sure your super death benefit goes to your preferred beneficiary, nominate them through your super fund. You should also advise the people you have nominated.

    If you don’t make the necessary arrangements in time, your chosen beneficiary may have difficulty accessing your super death benefit.

    Ensure your beneficiaries are up-to date and valid. It is wise to review them annually and make appropriate amendments if your personal circumstances change.

    The tax treatment of super death benefit payments differs depending on whether the recipient is a dependant for tax law purposes. Tax law dependants are confined to the deceased’s spouse (including an ex-spouse), children under 18, an interdependent person or a financial dependant. These dependants will receive the superannuation death benefit tax-free; others will incur some tax. More information can be found at Super death benefits.

    A dependant beneficiary may be able to take the super death benefit as a lump sum or a pension. If they take it as a pension, it will count towards their transfer balance cap. More information can be found at Death benefit income streams and your transfer balance cap.

    If you are unsure of what to do, contact your superannuation fund or seek independent financial or legal advice specific to your circumstances.

    See also:

    More tools and information

    The Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) website MoneySmartExternal Link helps people make smart choices about their personal finances. This is free independent guidance to help you can make the best choices for your money.

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    Last modified: 31 Aug 2021QC 38196