self employed

Superannuation for self-employed workers

If you're self-employed you're not legally required to pay yourself super, but it's a good idea to do so.

If you work for yourself, you can't rely on an employer to make payments towards your superannuation. Instead, this responsibility falls to you. It's not required by law that you pay yourself super, but it's hugely beneficial to make ongoing, regular payments towards your super in order to save for your retirement.

Let's take a look at the benefits of paying yourself super, the limits to how much you can put into your super and how to pay yourself super if you're self-employed.

Compare super funds to pay yourself super into

Name Product Past 1 Year Performance Past 3 Year Performance Past 5 Year Performance Calculated fees on $50,000 Insurance Included
10.70%
8.61%
9.84%
$553.00
Death, TPD
Earn a Retirement Bonus of up to $4,800 when you open a new Income account. T&Cs apply.
10.62%
New fund
New fund
$348.00
Death, TPD
Earn Velocity Frequent Flyer Points for making contributions to your super. T&Cs apply.
N/A
N/A
N/A
$683.00
Death, TPD, Income Protection
Choose between 14 different investment options, including a socially responsible option.
11.08%
9.30%
10.51%
$421.76
Death, TPD, Income Protection
Enjoy discounted rates on banking products with ME Bank and health cover with GMHBA health insurance.
9.63%
7.84%
8.88%
$535.00
Death, TPD, Income Protection
Socially responsible and ethical investment options available.
7.57%
8.08%
N/A
$450.00
Death, TPD
Pay no entry, exit or switching fees and enjoy a range of different investment options with QSuper.
10.57%
8.12%
9.51%
$573.53
Death, TPD, Income Protection
Get access to one-on-one professional advice at no additional cost.
6.70%
6.26%
7.52%
$662.00
Death, TPD, Income Protection
Choose investment options that align with your personal values.
11.43%
7.73%
8.76%
$703.00
Death, TPD
Access offers, deals and discounts through the BT Super Benefits Now program.
10.95%
9.39%
10.41%
$565.00
Death, TPD, Income Protection
Enjoy discounted health insurance with HCF.
8.79%
8.51%
9.59%
$646.76
Death, TPD
Get fee-free advice on your superannuation as a BUSSQ member. T&Cs apply.
7.41%
6.24%
7.89%
$601.76
Death, TPD
Receive a complimentary financial planning session with a Suncorp financial planner.
12.50%
10.17%
11.02%
$621.76
Death, TPD, Salary Continuance
Enjoy discounted rates on banking products with ME Bank.
9.39%
8.60%
9.93%
$535.88
Death, TPD
Access simple personal advice at no cost.
8.14%
6.50%
N/A
$703.00
Death, TPD
Gain access to lifestyle offers and benefits on NAB financial products and services.
8.76%
7.14%
8.81%
$497.60
Death, TPD, Income Protection
Earn rewards and vouchers through the AIA Vitality program.
10.45%
8.61%
10.14%
$361.00
Death, TPD, Income Protection
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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4 Responses

  1. 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?

    • finder 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.

  2. Default Gravatar
    JohnAugust 7, 2013

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

    • finder 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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