Your 5-step super check
Managing your super doesn’t need to be difficult or time-consuming. Simply:
- find out about your super entitlements
- do our 5-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 work after a break or change jobs.
On this page:
Superannuation (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 (or 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.
Most self-employed people can claim a full tax deduction for contributions they make to their super until they turn 75 years of age. Keep in mind that contributions you make may be subject to extra tax if they exceed the contributions limit for that year.
Are you eligible 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, and it doesn’t matter 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, if you're aged 70 years or over and working, you must be paid super if you 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.
How much is the employer's contribution?
If you’re eligible for SG, your employer must pay a minimum of 9.50% 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 your super tool.
During the first quarter of the 2016–17 financial year (1 July – 30 September 2016) Julie's ordinary time earnings were $8,000.
The super contribution Julie's employer must make for her for that quarter is:
9.50% x $8,000 = $760.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.
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.
The 5-step check
There are five 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
Generally your super fund will send you a statement at the end of the financial year. This 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.
It is important to check that your employer is paying the correct amount of super on your behalf. 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.
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.
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
- find ATO-held super – if the government, your super fund or your employer can't find an account to transfer your super to, we hold it on your behalf
- combine multiple super accounts by transferring your super into your preferred super account. If this is a fund-to-fund transfer it will generally be actioned within three working days.
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 annually.
To receive the maximum co-contribution ($500), you need to earn $36,021 or less and put $1,000 into your super account during 2016–17. 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, with the minimum amount payable being $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 ($51,021 for 2016–17), where the co-contribution is phased out completely.
Angela earns $36,000 a year. She pays $40 per fortnight from her take-home pay into her super account for 2013–14 (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 2016–17 ($500).
We will pay this amount into Angela's super account between November and January after the 2016–17 financial year.End of example
5. Put extra money into your super
You can make payments into your super fund account over and above the 9.50% 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 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 about it first to make sure they allow it and so you know what the benefits will be to you. For example:
- salary sacrifice reduces your 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.
Emily earns $58,000 a year (gross). She enquires with her human resources section and finds out that her employer offers salary sacrifice arrangements.
She arranges to have an extra $200 per fortnight ($5,200 per 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
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', 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.
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.
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.
More tools and information
Our super for individuals home page has a wealth of information about super, as well as tools, calculators and tips. This is a great place to start if you want to know more about super.
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.
See also:A basic guide to super entitlements and the five steps individuals can take to help sort out and grow their super.