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  • Withdrawing your super and paying tax

    Superannuation (super) is money you put aside during your working life for you to use in retirement.

    When it's time to access your super, consider your options to work out what’s best for you. Your choices could affect how comfortably you live in retirement.

    Consider:

    You can seek independent financial advice to help you decide how you will access your super.

    See also:

    When you can access your super

    Super benefits are subject to withdrawal rules to protect your entitlements.

    Preservation rules prevent you from accessing your benefits until you satisfy a condition of release.

    Preservation rules

    Your super may include one or more of the following benefit types:

    • preserved benefits – including all contributions and all earnings for the period after 30 June 1999 (preserved benefits can only be paid to you if you meet a condition of release)
    • restricted non-preserved benefits – including all contributions you made between 1 July 1983 and 30 June 1999 (as with preserved benefits these can only be paid to you if you meet a condition of release)
    • unrestricted non-preserved benefits – including money held by your super provider (including super fund, retirement savings account and approved deposit fund) you can access at any time, if your provider's rules allow it.

    Your benefits are generally preserved until you meet a condition of release.

    Conditions of release cover a wide range of circumstances when a release of benefits is permitted. Some have restrictions on the form of benefit (for example, lump sum or income stream) or the amount of the benefit payable. These are known as 'cashing restrictions'.

    If you meet a condition of release with zero cashing restrictions, the preserved and restricted non-preserved benefits in your account will become unrestricted non-preserved benefits.

    You can check how much you have in preserved, restricted non-preserved and unrestricted non-preserved benefits on your annual super statement.

    See also:

    Conditions of release

    Super laws provide specific rules for when you can access your super. These are called conditions of release. In addition, the trust deed or governing rules of your super provider may set out more restrictive rules around payment of benefits.

    You can access your super when you:

    You can also access super in some special circumstances:

    Accessing super and receiving Centrelink payments

    If you access your super it may affect your Centrelink payments, to find out more:

    Illegal super schemes

    Watch out for people offering to help you gain early access to your super before you retire by transferring it to a self-managed super fund. Many of these schemes are illegal and heavy penalties apply if you participate.

    See also:

    Preservation age

    Your preservation age is the age you can access your super if you are retired (or can start a transition to retirement income stream).

    If you were born before 1 July 1960 you have already reached your preservation age of 55 years and you can access your super once you have met a condition of release. If you were born after 1 July 1960 your preservation age depends on when you were born.

    Preservation age based on date of birth

    Date of birth

    Preservation age

    Before 1 July 1960

    55

    1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961

    56

    1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962

    57

    1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963

    58

    1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964

    59

    From 1 July 1964

    60

    Preservation age is not the same as pension age.

    See also:

    Transfer balance cap

    The transfer balance cap applies from 1 July 2017. It is a limit on the total amount of super that can be transferred into the retirement phase.

    The transfer balance cap is set at $1.6 million for the 2017–18, 2018–19 and 2019–20 income years. It is subject to indexation in line with the consumer price index (CPI), rounded down to the nearest $100,000.

    You can commence multiple super income streams that are in retirement phase as long as you remain below the cap. All your super income streams that are in retirement phase are included when working out this amount, it does not matter how many accounts or funds you hold these super interests in.

    The amount of indexation you are entitled to will be calculated proportionally based on the amount of your available cap space. If, at any time, you meet or exceed your cap, you will not be entitled to indexation.

    Different tax rules will apply if you receive certain defined benefit income streams, known as 'capped defined benefit income streams', as you usually can’t transfer or remove excess amounts from these income streams.

    Defined benefit income cap

    The defined benefit income cap applies to income received from capped defined benefit income streams.

    The defined benefit income cap is set at $100,000 for the 2017–18, 2018–19 and 2019–20 income years and will increase over time because it is based on the general transfer balance cap which is indexed.

    The defined benefit income cap may be reduced below $100,000 in some circumstances, including if you:

    • are receiving a capped defined benefit income stream and turn 60 years old part-way through the year, and therefore begin receiving concessional tax treatment for that income
    • start a capped defined benefit income stream with concessional tax treatment for the first time part-way through the year
    • start receiving a death benefit (reversionary) defined benefit income stream with concessional tax treatment part-way through the year.

    Capped defined benefit income streams are subject to additional income tax rules where the recipient is 60 years old or older, or death benefits which a dependant receives from a deceased person 60 years old or older.

    Super income streams that did not previously have a withholding obligation are now subject to withholding, even if the withholding amount is nil. Changes also apply to the applicable tax offset.

    See also:

      Last modified: 08 Apr 2019QC 37785