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What is super

If you're new to Australia's superannuation system for retirement saving, find out how it works and how to benefit.

Last updated 1 August 2023

Super is an investment in your future

Australia's superannuation system is the main way most people save for their retirement.

Superannuation (super for short) is a long-term investment that grows over time. The more you contribute during your working life, the more you'll have for your retirement.

For most people, super begins when you start work and your employer starts paying a percentage of your salary or wages into your super fund. Your employer pays your super on top of your wages.

You can also make additional voluntary contributions up to a cap.

Your chosen super fund invests and manages this money for you until you retire. Your super fund will offer you a range of investment options and account types to help you choose what's best for you.

What you need to do

You can generally choose what fund your super is invested in, and how it is invested.

You need to keep track of your super, checking that your employer is contributing the right amount and ensuring it's most effectively invested for your circumstances.


There are caps on how much you or others can contribute to your super without paying extra tax. Contributions made out of pre-tax income are called concessional contributions while contributions made from post-tax income are called non-concessional contributions.

Withdrawal and retirement

Except in very limited circumstances, you can't withdraw amounts from super or start an income stream until you've reached your preservation age and meet the relevant conditions of release.

Penalties and fees apply if super is accessed illegally. It's important you meet the requirements before you access your super.

Be wary of anyone offering to help you withdraw your super early.

The ATO's role

The ATO works with the community, super funds, employers and other government agencies to manage key elements of Australia's superannuation system. In particular, we:

  • provide super fund members with the information and tools to keep track of their super and entitlements
  • monitor the use of superannuation tax concessions to ensure a high level of compliance
  • support employers to meet their superannuation obligations
  • regulate and support self-managed super funds so they can be run legally to save for retirement.

How we can help you

In these pages you'll find information on your super entitlements and the rules and tax treatment applying to contributions and withdrawals.

If you're unsure of what super accounts you hold, you can log in to ATO online services (including ATO App) through myGov to monitor and keep track of your super.

If you need help to choose a super fund, our YourSuper comparison tool will help you compare MySuper products (basic superannuation accounts without unnecessary features and fees) and choose a fund that meets your needs.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) MoneysmartExternal Link website also provides information on what to look for when comparing and choosing a super fund.

We provide basic information on Australia's superannuation system in other languages.

Note that when we refer to ‘super funds’, we include:

  • complying super funds
  • public sector super schemes (regulated or exempt public sector super scheme)
  • complying approved deposit funds (ADFs).

‘Super provider’ means the trustee of a super fund or ADF, or a life insurance company that holds the account for the member.

Other sources of information and support

As well as the information and tools on this website, you can find out more to help you plan for your retirement from other sources:

  • your employer, who should be able to explain how their contributions to your super are calculated and paid
  • your super fund, on how your super is invested and your options
  • a financial adviser, for advice on financial planning for your retirement – ASIC's MoneysmartExternal Link website will help you find a suitable financial adviser
  • Centrelink - Services AustraliaExternal Link, for information on what retirement income support is available from the government.