Super is money set aside over your lifetime to provide for your retirement. For most people, super begins when you start work and your employer starts making contributions on your behalf. Payments made by your employer into your super fund are known as super guarantee contributions.
Compulsory employer contributions
Most people are entitled to compulsory super contributions from their employer.
These super contributions must be at least 9% of your ordinary earnings, up to the maximum contribution base.
The 9% will progressively increase each year, starting with 9.50% for the 2013–14 tax year, up to 12% by the 2025–26 tax year.
You may also be entitled to choose the fund your super is paid into.
If you temporarily work overseas for your Australian employer, they must continue to pay super contributions for you in Australia.
If your employer is not an Australian resident, and you work within Australia for this employer, they should be providing the super guarantee for you for this period of employment. They are not required to provide super guarantee for you when you are working outside Australia.
You can check that your employer is paying the correct amount of super by either:
- talking to them
- checking your most recent annual member statement from your super fund.
If necessary, you can ask us to look into it on your behalf.
Other contributions and co-contributions
You can boost your super balance by making your own contributions. When you do this, you may be eligible for government co-contributions (refer to Super co-contribution).
You might also want to consider a salary sacrifice arrangement to increase your super. Salary sacrifice is an arrangement where you agree to forego part of your future salary or wages (pre tax) in return for your employer providing that benefit value into super.
Note: There are limits on the amounts you can put into your super each financial year without being charged extra tax – for more information, refer to Super contributions – too much super can mean extra tax.
If you earn less than $37,000 per year, you may be eligible for a government payment into your super of up to $500 per year – for more information, refer to Low income super contribution.
Keeping track of your super
If you have ever changed your name, address or job, you may have more than one super account or even have some lost super. Combining your super into one account will save you fees and makes it easier to keep track of your super.
- Keep track of your super accounts, check for lost or ATO-held super and transfer your super online by registering online. Refer to Check your super.
Accessing your super benefits
You can access your super when you reach 'preservation age' (usually 60 years of age) and retire, or turn 65 years of age (even if you have not retired). There are very limited circumstances that allow you to access your super early.
Goods and services tax
Goods and services tax (GST) is a broad-based tax of 10% on most goods, services and other items sold or consumed in Australia.
If you carry on an enterprise, which includes a business, you must register for GST if your gross business income is $75,000 or more.
Generally, businesses registered for GST will:
- include GST in the price of sales to their customers
- be able to claim credits for the GST included in the price of their business purchases
- need to report these transactions by completing a business activity statement (BAS) – monthly, quarterly or annually.
Your rights and responsibilities
You are responsible for providing correct information to us. The self-assessment system means that we accept the information you provide to us on your tax return. We use automatic checks to verify some information, and may later examine your information more thoroughly.
The Taxpayers' charter outlines your rights and responsibilities under the law and the service standards you can expect when dealing with us. The charter also explains what you can do if you are dissatisfied with our decisions or actions, and sets out your obligations as a taxpayer.
Australia's income tax system works on self-assessment. This means that on your tax return you must show all your assessable income and claim only the deductions and tax offsets (formerly called rebates) to which you are entitled.
Under the self-assessment system, we accept the claims you make in your tax return, usually without adjustment, and an assessment notice is issued. Even though we may initially accept the tax return, the return may still be subject to further review or audit.
The ATO can review returns, and may increase or decrease the amount of tax payable. Depending on your circumstances, an assessment can be amended up to four years after we give it to you – however, where fraud or evasion has occurred, there is no time limit to amending the assessment.
Records you need to keep
You need to be able to show how you arrived at the figures reported in your tax return – and in some cases, you may be required to provide written evidence.
In order to prepare an accurate tax return and support the claims you make, you need to keep satisfactory records. The records you need to keep depend on your personal circumstances. Generally, you need to keep your records for five years from the later of the:
- due date for lodging your tax return
- date you actually lodge your tax return.
You are responsible for keeping records to substantiate your claims, even if you use a registered tax agent.
Each year we cross-reference information reported in tax returns against records reported by other parties.
Information that we match includes:
- employment, welfare and investment income
- property and share dividends and disposals
- overseas transactions and international funds transfers
- super information
- health insurance policies, including the level of cover held by individuals
- third party reporting (sale of shares and units and business transactions made through payment systems).
We also undertake large-scale activities involving information exchange with other government agencies.