Superannuation for self-employed workers

If you're self-employed you're not legally required to pay yourself super, but it's a really good idea to do so. You can choose any open super fund to join, and start paying yourself super right away.

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If you work for yourself, you're responsible for paying your own superannuation. There aren't any specific super funds for self-employed workers, instead you're free to join any open super fund that you'd like to.

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Spaceship's GrowthX fund is a high-growth option that invests heavily in Australian and international shares, aiming for strong long-term returns.

Choose a super fund to pay yourself super

Name Product Last 1 year performance Last 3 years performance Last 5 year performance Last 10 year performance Annual fees on $50k balance
AustralianSuper - Pre-mixed, Balanced option
5.55%
7.73%
8.98%
8.98%
$411.18
AustralianSuper is an award-winning industry super fund and the largest super fund in Australia. The Balanced fund invests in a mix of different assets like shares, property and cash.
Spaceship GrowthX
18.88%
15.52%
N/A
N/A
$536
This is a high-risk investment option that aims to deliver high returns over the long term.
Spaceship's Growth X fund invests heavily in Australian and international shares, with a focus on technology stocks. Performance figures and fees supplied by Spaceship, not Chant West.
Sunsuper Lifecycle Balanced
3.18%
6.64%
8.14%
8.2%
$463
Sunsuper is an award-winning super fund with more than 1.4 million members. Its Lifecycle Balanced option invests your super in a mix of growth assets, and reduces your risk when you're near retirement.
Australian Ethical Super Balanced
8.28%
8.62%
8.28%
8.2%
$622
Certified by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia.
Australian Ethical seeks to invest in companies that have a positive impact on the planet, people and animals, such as renewable energy and healthcare while avoiding investments in coal, oil, tobacco and gambling.
Virgin Money Super - Lifestage Tracker
3.59%
7.34%
N/A
N/A
$358
Virgin Money Super Lifestage Tracker has some of the lowest fees in the market. It invests in a range of different assets in line with your age, reducing your risk as you get older. Plus, you can earn Velocity Frequent Flyer Points when you rollover your super, and on the contributions you make (T&Cs apply).
Aware MySuper Life Cycle Growth
5.49%
7.31%
8.37%
8.38%
$519.42
Aware Super is a not-for-profit fund with more than 750,000 members. The MySuper product invests your super in a pre-mixed Growth fund until you’re 60, then it’ll switch to Balanced.
QSuper Lifetime - Aspire 1
4.08%
7.03%
8.21%
N/A
$315
QSuper is one of the largest and oldest member-owned funds in Australia. The QSuper Lifetime fund automatically personalises a your investment strategy based your age and account balance.
LUCRF MySuper Balanced
3.15%
5.44%
6.77%
7.3%
$497.64
LUCRF Super is an industry super fund open to all Australians with 11 different investment options available. Its default MySuper Balanced option is a simple, diversified portfolio designed to suit most members.
Australian Catholic Super Lifetime - Grow
2.97%
N/A
N/A
N/A
$563
A Catholic super fund open to all Australians and designed for people working in Catholic education, healthcare or aged care.The Lifetime One fund option changes your investment mix as you get older.
Verve Super Balanced
6.2%
N/A
N/A
N/A
$691.10
Verve Super is an ethical super fund tailored for women. It seeks to invest in companies making a positive impact, such as renewable energy and women in leadership, while avoiding those that cause harm, such as fossil fuels, tobacco and guns.
UniSuper Balanced
5.89%
8.16%
8.7%
8.97%
$326
UniSuper is an industry super fund and one of Australia's largest super funds with more than 450,000 members. Its Balanced option invests in a mix of different asset classes and has achieved consistently high returns for members.
AustralianSuper - Socially Aware
-2.07%
4.83%
6.1%
N/A
$472
The AustralianSuper Socially Aware option doesn't invest in Australian or international companies that directly own coal and fossil fuel reserves, produce tobacco or those which have single-gender boards. Investment performance as of 30 June 2020.
Aware Super - Diversified Socially Responsible Investment
0.55%
5.47%
5.4%
N/A
$406.18
The Aware Super Diversified Socially Responsible Investment is a pre-mixed investment option that excludes companies operating in the tobacco, ammunition, gambling, alcohol, forest logging and pornography industries, as well as companies that attribute 20% or more of their revenue to coal, oil and gas.
Sunsuper - Socially Conscious Balanced
0.19%
5.54%
5.97%
N/A
$528
Certified by the Responsible Investment Association Australasia.
The Sunsuper Socially Conscious Balanced option avoids investment in companies that have significant exposure (more than 5% of revenue) to alcohol, tobacco, gambling, pornography, coal and nuclear power manufacturing. Investment performance as of 30 June 2020.
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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 2020.

Superannuation rules when you're self-employed

If you're an employee, your employer is legally required to pay you super guarantee payments. But if you're self-employed, for example a sole trader, freelancer or contractor, you don't have an employer to pay you super. You're not legally required to pay yourself super, but it's a good idea to do so.

Employers are required to pay employees super at a rate of 10% p.a. on their annual earnings. If you're self-employed and choose to pay yourself super, you don't have to meet this same amount and can instead pay yourself less (or more) than this. However, the same contribution limits apply to self-employed workers.

What are the super contribution limits if you're self employed?

The same contribution limits apply to self-employed workers that apply to all Australians. You can pay yourself up to $25,000 in concessional super contributions each year. Concessional contributions are the contributions you can claim as a tax deduction if you're self employed. If you want to contribute even more to your super you're welcome to do so, however you won't be able to claim any more than the $25,000 as a tax deduction.

Tax benefits of making super contributions as a self-employed worker

Super is taxed at the lower rate of 15%, unlike your regular income which can be taxed as much as 45% depending on how much you earn. Because you've already paid tax on your money before you add it to your super, and it will later be taxed again at 15% by your super fund, you're entitled to claim these contributions as a tax deduction. However, there are limits as to how much you can contribute to your super and claim as a tax deduction.

How to pay yourself super when you're self employed

Paying yourself super is similar to making a standard bank-to-bank transfer online. You'll need to log into your online portal for your super fund to access your account. From here, you can select 'make a contribution' and simply enter how much you'd like to send to your super.

It's a good idea to set regular payment dates that suits you and your business. For example, a lot of Australian businesses pay their employees superannuation once a quarter (once every three months) so this could be a good idea for you too. But depending on your cash flow, you might decide to pay yourself super once every six months or even once a year instead.

Why should I pay myself super if I'm self employed?

Some of the main benefits to paying yourself super are:

  • Save for retirement. The biggest benefit of paying yourself super is that you're saving for your retirement. Superannuation is designed to ensure Australians have enough money saved to fund their lifestyle when they're no longer earning a regular income. The more you have saved in super, the more comfortable your retirement will be.
  • You'll be less reliant on the Age Pension. Superannuation was created so Australians weren't relying on the Age Pension to fund their lifestyle after they've stopped working. The Age Pension is designed as a safety net or back up, but it shouldn't be relied on as an income source and it has strict eligibility criteria. If you pay yourself super while you're self employed, you're less likely to need to apply for the Age Pension.
  • You'll develop good money habits. Paying yourself super on a consistent basis, for example each month or each quarter, will help you develop and maintain good budgeting habits.
  • There are tax benefits to paying yourself super. There are tax benefits with paying yourself super. Super is taxed at the lower rate of 15% which, depending on what you earn, could be a lot lower than the standard rate of tax you pay. Because of this, you can actually claim tax deductions when you contribute to your super as a self-employed worker. We'll outline how this works in more details below.

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4 Responses

    Default Gravatar
    WillemJanuary 28, 2014

    Above you say there is no employer contribution for self-employed workers so it’s tax savings that are significant. Is this all that a self-employed worker gets?

    So if the worker gets less than the tax threshold each year or thereabouts there is really no point? He is basically just paying tax. Is this it?

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      MarcJanuary 28, 2014Staff

      Hi Willem,
      thanks for the question.

      Unfortunately I’m not able to comment on whether or not being self-employed is effective from a tax perspective. It should be known that self-employed workers also get super-related benefits such as the ability to claim a full tax deduction for super contributions, and I’ve emailed you a page from the ATO regarding this.

      I hope this helps,
      Marc.

    Default Gravatar
    JohnAugust 7, 2013

    Can a self employed person join an industry super fund if so which ones

      Avatarfinder Customer Care
      ShirleyAugust 8, 2013Staff

      Hi John,

      Thanks for your comment.

      Yes, there are industry super fund options for the self-employed.
      Industry Superfund is one that offers services to the self-employed. Depending on what sector you’re in, there could be Retail funds and Public sector fund.

      Cheers,
      Shirley

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