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Super contributions

Making extra super contributions on top of what your employer contributes can help boost your super balance. Here’s how contributions work, how much you can contribute to your super and how to do it.

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Types of super contributions

While there are a number of different ways you can contribute to your super, there's ultimately 2 different types of super contributions. These are concessional contributions and non-concessional contributions.

Concessional super contributions

Concessional contributions are those that are made from pre-tax income and taxed within your super fund. These contributions are taxed at the concessional super tax rate of 15%, as opposed to your standard income tax rate.

Concessional contributions include those that you make from your pre-tax income in the form of salary sacrificing into super, as well as spouse super contributions and all super guarantee contributions from your employer. Contributions you make yourself that you claim a tax deduction for (even if you didn't contribute these via salary sacrifice) are also concessional contributions.

Non-concessional super contributions

Non-concessional contributions are those that are made from your after-tax income, and are not taxed within your super fund. These contributions are taxed at your standard income tax rate when you lodge your tax return.

Non-concessional contributions can be made by transferring money from your bank account to your super fund, and not claiming a tax deduction for this. This is what you can do when you've reached your concessional contributions cap (more on this below).

Employer super contributions

Your employer is required to make contributions to your nominated super fund. These count as concessional contributions.

What super contributions should my employer be paying me?

Employers are required to pay employees super guarantee contributions towards their super fund. The current super guarantee rate is 10% on top of annual earnings. This is the minimum amount, and some employers choose to pay higher contributions as an employee benefit or perk.

Who qualifies for employer contributions?

All employees are entitled to receive super contributions from their employer. This includes casual, shift-based and contract employees. Previously, you needed to earn at least $450 in a calendar month before your employer had to pay you super, but this law has since changed and there's no income threshold to meet.

However, if you're under 18, you need to work at least 30 hours per week before your employer is required to pay you super contributions.

Paying yourself super when you're self-employed or a sole trader is your own responsibility. You don't legally have to pay yourself the super guarantee, but it's certainly a good idea to pay yourself regular super contributions.

How often should I be getting employer contributions?

The super guarantee is usually paid to employees in 4 payments across the year; however, some employers choose to pay this monthly.

If you haven't received a super contribution in more than 4 months, they could be late or missing your payment so it's important to follow up with your employer.

How do I check my super is being paid?

You can see all your super contributions, including your employer contributions and your own contributions (if you've made any), by checking your super statement or transaction history. You'll find this by logging into your super account's online portal or mobile app.

You can also see your super contributions by navigating to the ATO section within your myGov portal online, which lists your super fund/s.

Use the current super guarantee rate of 10% to help you work out how much you should be getting paid. Remember this rate is on your annual earnings, so if you receive employer contributions quarterly you'll need to divide your total expected contributions by 4.

If you're unsure, the best thing to do is chat with your employer or HR contact.

What should I do if my employer isn't paying my super?

If you discover that you're not getting paid super at all, or not getting paid the right amount, the first step is to speak to your employer. If this doesn't solve the issue, you can report it to the ATO.

Before you do report it, make sure your employer doesn't have an old super fund account listed as your nominated account by mistake.

Are employer contributions taxed?

Yes, employer contributions are classed as concessional contributions and taxed within your super fund at a rate of 15%.

You don't need to do anything with this at tax time, it's all taken care of by your super fund. You don't need to declare your employer super contributions when you lodge your personal income tax return either.

Government super contributions

If you're a low-income earner with annual earnings of less than $60,000 a year, you could be entitled to extra super contributions via the government's superannuation co-contribution scheme. Under this scheme you could earn an extra $500 a year in government super contributions.

There are eligibility criteria to meet before you're able to receive these contributions, and you also need to make your own personal contributions to your fund. You can read our full guide on the government's super co-contribution scheme to see if you're eligible and how to apply.

Super contribution caps and limits

There are limits on how much you can contribute to your super each year. The caps are applied per person, not per fund. So, if you have more than 1 super fund your contributions are combined to meet the annual cap (as a side note – it's a good idea to consolidate your super if you do have multiple super funds).

Concessional contribution cap

You can make up to $27,500 worth of concessional contributions each year. This includes all employer contributions and personal contributions made via salary sacrifice, or those that you're claiming a tax deduction for.

However, you can also take advantage of the "carry-forward" contribution rule to make larger, lump sum concessional payments. If you have less than $500,000 in super, you can carry forward any unused amount of your annual concessional contributions cap for the past 5 years to make a lump sum carry-forward contribution.

Non-concessional contribution cap

You can make up to $110,000 worth of non-concessional contributions each year. These are the contributions you make from your after-tax income and don't claim a deduction for.

What happens if I exceed my contributions cap?

If you exceed your concessional contributions cap, the additional contributions will be classed as non-concessional. If you exceed your non-concessional contributions cap you'll receive a letter from the ATO listing your options.

Your options from the ATO include:

  • Withdraw the excess contribution and earnings. Your super fund will release your excess contribution and the earnings from that excess contribution back into your bank account. From here, you'll need to include this money (including the earnings) in your income tax return that financial year.
  • Keep the excess contributions in your fund. If you choose to keep your excess contributions in your fund, your super fund will tax these contributions at the highest tax rate of 47%.

Downsizing super contributions

If you're over 65, you can make a one-off post-tax contribution of up to $300,000 into your super using the money received from selling your home. The super downsizing scheme is on top of the annual non-concessional super caps of $110,000 a year.

However, it can only be used for the proceeds of selling your family home – not investment property – and you need to have lived there for at least 10 years.

Growing your super through extra contributions

The more money you contribute to your super, the more it'll grow. Super benefits from compound growth, which means your investment returns get reinvested and start earning their own returns. Adding more to your super while you're young and still working can help you retire with a much bigger balance later on. Let's take a look at an example.

Let's say you're 20 years old, earning $70,000 a year with a super balance of $20,000. If you make no additional contributions on top of your employer's contributions, your super balance at retirement is estimated to be $543,599.

If you started to contribute $500 a month (a bit over $100 a week), your estimated super balance jumps to $1,002,393. Of this, $282,000 is the amount you've contributed and $123,995 is the extra investment earnings you've made on those contributions.

As you can see from this example using Moneysmart's super calculator, starting to make extra contributions while you're young can have a huge impact on your final super balance.

Is it worth making extra contributions?

Making extra super contributions will help you retire with a larger super balance, and it also helps you reduce your income tax while you're still working. This is because when you make concessional super contributions the money is taxed in your super fund at the lower rate of 15%, and not taxed as part of your taxable income.

However, if you're already on a tight budget to pay for everyday expenses, bills and mortgage repayments, adding additional money into your super might not be a priority for you at this stage (especially as the cost of living is surging). There is little point making extra super contributions for the future if it's going to put you in financial stress now.

It's important to remember that when you make super contributions, you can't withdraw that money until you retire and are able to access your super. So if you do decide to make additional contributions, make sure it's not money that you could need in the near future.

If you're not able to make additional contributions, you can still boost your super by comparing super funds and making sure you're in a low-fee, high-performing fund.

When should I be making extra contributions?

If you do want to make extra super contributions, there's no wrong time to do it. The younger you start the more you'll benefit from compound growth in your super. However, when you're young you're also less likely to have huge amounts of disposable income to add to your super.

If you are going to make a one-off lump sum contribution into your super, doing this before the end of financial year will mean you can claim a tax deduction for your super contribution.

How to make super contributions

There are a few ways you can make super contributions.

  • Employer contributions. This is done for you by your employer, all you need to do is make sure they've got your super fund details.
  • Simple bank transfer. You can add money into your super at any time by making a bank transfer from your bank account, just like a normal transfer.
  • Salary sacrifice. This is something that your employer can set up and manage for you, you just need to discuss how much you want to sacrifice from your pay.
  • Recurring transfer. Similar to a recurring bank transfer or payment, you can set up an ongoing, recurring payment from your bank account to your super account of an amount that you choose.

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