Salary sacrifice into your super

Salary sacrificing is one of the easiest ways of contributing to your superannuation.

Salary sacrificing is a way of contributing to your super and involves diverting part of your salary into your super fund. Salary sacrificing into your super comes with tax benefits, making it an attractive option for anyone looking to top up their super balance.

This guide will explain how salary sacrificing into your super works, how to set it up and what to consider before going ahead. If salary sacrificing isn’t for you, we’ve also outlined some other ways of contributing to your super.

How salary sacrifice into superannuation works

Salary sacrifice is the process of redirecting a percentage of your salary or wage into something else. You can set up a salary sacrifice agreement with your employer to help pay off a car, your mortgage payments or to top up your super.

Salary sacrifice into your super fund means, come payday, a percentage of your wage will be sent to your super account rather than into your bank account. These are classed as concessional contributions, because the money that’s sent to your super account is diverted before you’re charged any income tax on it. This is the main benefit of salary sacrificing into your super.

You can elect how much of your pre-taxed income you want to send to your super account instead, although limits do apply (we’ve outlined these limits below). If you want to salary sacrifice into your super this is something you can arrange directly with your employer instead of with your super fund.

Salary sacrificing into your super has many benefits

  • Pre-tax super contributions. Salary sacrificing is classed as a concessional contribution, meaning it’s part of your pre-tax income. This money will instead be taxed at the reduced super tax rate of 15%, rather than your marginal tax rate which could be as high as 45%.
  • Set-and-forget strategy. Salary sacrificing into your super is a great way to make passive contributions to your super. Once you’ve set it up there’s nothing else you need to do – the contributions will automatically be made each time your employer pays you.
  • Your employer handles the admin. Your employer will set up your salary sacrifice contributions with your super fund, so there’s not much admin involved for you.
  • Benefit from compound returns. By making regular contributions to your super from a young age, you’ll benefit from compounded investment returns.
  • No fees. There are no fees charged to make concessional contributions to your super via salary sacrifice.
  • Benefits to those earning more than $37,000. Those with a salary above $37,000 stand to benefit the most from salary sacrificing into super. Instead of paying the marginal tax rate of up to 45%, that income will instead only be taxed at 15%.

What to consider before salary sacrificing into super

Salary sacrificing has many benefits, but there are also a few things to consider before setting it up.

  • It’s part of the super guarantee. Your employer is required to pay you the super guarantee, which is currently set at 9.5% of your salary. If you elect to salary sacrifice part of your wage into your super, this is counted as part of the super guarantee from your employer rather than another contribution on top of this, unless you negotiate otherwise.
  • Less money at payday. If you elect to send a portion of your salary to your super you’ll end up with less money in your bank account come payday.
  • You can’t access the money. Once you’ve sent the money to your super fund, you can’t access this money until you retire or reach your preservation age. So it’s important to ensure you won’t need the money to meet your financial obligations, such as rent, bills or in the event of an emergency.
  • Limits apply. There are limits as to how much you can contribute to your super, which are outlined below.
  • Not worth it if you earn below $37,000. If you earn below $37,000 your income is only taxed at 19%, so it might not be worth salary sacrificing as you’d only be taxed 4% less.

There are limits to how much you can salary sacrifice into super

Salary sacrificing is classed as a concessional contribution and there are limits as to how many concessional contributions you can make each year. Your concessional contributions can’t be more than $25,000 p.a., which includes both your salary sacrificed contributions and those made by your employer as part of the super guarantee.

As an example, let’s say you earn $150,000 a year. To meet the 9.5% super guarantee requirement your employer needs to contribute $14,250 to your super a year. This means you can only make up to $10,750 worth of additional pre-tax contributions.

How else can I make contributions to my superannuation?

There are four main ways you can contribute to your super.

  • Employer contributions. This is the main source of money paid into an individual’s superannuation account. According to the superannuation guarantee, an employer must pay at least 9.5% of an employee’s gross salary into their super account every quarter.
  • Concessional contributions. You can arrange for your employer to pay some of your pre-tax salary into your super fund as an additional contribution, known as salary sacrifice. But remember, your contribution allowance is capped at a maximum of $25,000 a year including all your employer and concessional contributions.
  • Non-concessional contributions. A non-concessional contribution is one you make from your post-tax salary. This means you’ve already received the money into your bank account and paid the full tax rate. The cap for these contributions is currently $100,000 a year.
  • Government contributions. If you earn below $36,813 you may be eligible for the government super co-contribution. This means that if you choose to make non-concessional (post-tax) contributions, the government will add $0.50 for each dollar you deposit up to $500.

More tips to grow your super

Salary sacrificing is just one of the many strategies you can use to grow your super balance. To learn about the other ways you can increase your balance, take a look at our guide to growing your superannuation.

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AustralianSuper - Pre-mixed Balanced Super Fund Offer

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*To June 2019, according to Chant West. Investment returns are not guaranteed. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns.
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Compare super funds

Name Product Past Performance - 1 Year Past Performance - 3 Years Past 5 year performance Calculated fees on $50,000 balance
1.21%
7.56%
7.84%
$467.65
The Balanced option is a pre-mixed, MySuper fund that invests in a diversified range of asset classes.
AustralianSuper is an award-winning industry super fund and is the largest super fund in Australia.
1.9%
7.51%
7.47%
$523
The Lifecycle Balanced option is a MySuper product that invests your super in a balanced fund until you’re near retirement.
Earn a Retirement Bonus of up to $4,800 when you open a new Income account. T&Cs apply.
2.85%
7.57%
N/A
$395
The Lifetime option is a MySuper product that adjusts your investment mix each 7-10 years as you get older.
QSuper is a member-owned super fund and is one of the largest super funds in Australia.
-1.36%
N/A
N/A
$358
The Lifestage Tracker is a MySuper product that invests in a range of asset classes in line with your age.
Earn Velocity Frequent Flyer Points for making contributions to your super. T&Cs apply.
1%
6.59%
6.39%
$598
The LGIA MySuper Lifecycle option aims for higher returns while you’re under 75.
LGIA is a medium-sized, member-owned super fund open to all Australians.
-0.22%
4.86%
5.43%
$603
The LifetimeOne investment option is a MySuper product that changes your investment mix as you get older.
A Catholic super fund open to all Australians and designed for people working in Catholic education, healthcare or aged care.
New Fund
New Fund
New Fund
$291.50
The Balanced Essentials fund invests in a range of shares, residential property and other assets and has a medium level of risk.
Superestate focuses on investing your super in physical residential properties and charges some of the lowest annual fees in the market.
1.14%
6.95%
6.73%
$549.42
This MySuper product will invest your super in a pre-mixed Growth fund until you’re 60, then it’ll switch to Balanced.
First State Super is a not-for-profit super fund with more than 750,000 members around Australia.
2.54%
7.21%
7.19%
$548.53
The Core Pool invests in a mix of asset classes and is an authorised MySuper product.
HESTA is an industry super fund open to all Australians and designed for employees in the health and community services sector.
-2.16%
5.03%
5.41%
$643
The MySuper Lifestage fund invests your super in a mix of asset classes depending on how old you are.
Westpac Group customers can manage their super alongside their day-to-day bank accounts.
1.84%
7.78%
7.87%
$565
The Growth fund is a pre-mixed investment portfolio and an approved MySuper product.
Cbus is a leading industry super fund for the building and construction industry, that’s open to all Australians.
1.73%
6.45%
7.24%
$682.65
The MySuper Balanced Growth option is a ready-made, diversified fund with a medium level of risk.
BUSSQ is an industry fund designed for the building and construction industry and open for all Australians.
-1.04%
4%
5.27%
$581.80
The Lifestage Fund readjusts your investment mix every few years to reduce your level of risk as you get older.
A retail super fund that offers access to personalised financial planning and advice.
2.17%
8.44%
8.32%
$621.76
The Balanced fund invests your super in a range of assets and is designed for high long-term growth.
An industry super fund open to all Australians with a focus on the hospitality and retail sector.
0.99%
6.43%
7.56%
$529.76
The Balanced option is a MySuper product that invests in a range of asset classes aiming for medium to high long-term returns.
MTAA is a national super fund available to all Australians with a focus on the motor trades and automotive sector.
N/A
N/A
N/A
$728
The Growth option is a diversified portfolio that aims for high growth over the medium to long term.
MLC is a large retail fund open to all Australians. MLC is the wealth management arm of National Australia Bank.
0.63%
6.23%
6.24%
$497.60
The Core Strategy is a diversified investment portfolio that balances risk and return, and is an authorised MySuper product.
REST is an industry super fund tailored towards the retail sector and open to all Australians with almost two million members.
0.88%
6.56%
7.45%
$361
The Balanced option is a MySuper product that invests in a mix of growth and defensive assets.
A flexible industry super fund for people who work in Australia’s higher education and research sector.

Compare up to 4 providers

The information in the table is based on data provided by Chant West Pty Ltd (AFSL 255320) which is itself supplied by third parties. While such information is believed to be accurate, Chant West does not accept responsibility for any inaccuracy in such information. Chant West’s Financial Services Guide is available at https://www.chantwest.com.au/financial-services-guide . Finder offers no guarantees or warranties about the data and we recommend that users make their own enquiries before relying on this information. Performance, fees and insurance data is based on each fund's default MySuper product. Where the performance, fees and insurance data for the MySuper fund vary according to the member's age, results for individuals between 40-49 years of age have been shown. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance.

*Past performance data is for the period ending December 2018.

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