Your super may be taxed:
Read on to find out everything you need to know about how super is taxed.
The way super contributions are taxed depends on whether they’re paid with before or after-tax income.
Before-tax contributions (also known as concessional contributions)
Money paid into your super account by your employer (Superannuation Guarantee contributions) or as a salary sacrifice contribution is taxed at 15%.
As with everything in super (and life) – there are exceptions to this:
You can find out about all the exceptions to the way before-tax contributions are taxed in the How super is taxed booklet (pdf).
How tax works when adding to your super using salary sacrifice
Jacob is looking to grow his wealth and is able to find an extra $5,000 a year to support his goal. Let’s compare contributing $5,000 per year to his super using salary sacrifice to saving $5,000 each year outside of super. Salary sacrifice, reduces your taxable income, so you may pay less income tax.
Jacob has a marginal tax rate of 34.5% whereas his super contributions are taxed at 15%, so he decides to contribute $5,000 per year to his super as a salary sacrifice. Making the contribution through salary sacrifice reduces the amount of tax he pays (as his taxable income has been reduced).
By contributing $5,000 per year to his super via salary sacrifice Jacob has:
After-tax contributions (also known as non-concessional contributions)
Contributions made to your account from after-tax income (aka take-home pay) aren’t taxed again when they hit your super account. However, any investment earnings you receive on these contributions will be taxed.
After-tax contributions from your take-home pay can be a great way to increase your super balance and best of all – they can be claimed as a tax deduction when you're doing your tax return.
Get a tax deduction and grow your super savings with after-tax contributions
Alice is a HESTA member earning $60,000 per year. This financial year she makes an after-tax contribution of $2,000 to her super account. Alice notifies HESTA that she intends to claim a tax deduction on her contribution. This means Alice will be able to claim a tax deduction for the $2,000 in her tax return, reducing her taxable income to $58,000 for the year.
Alice’s marginal tax rate is 34.5%* (including the 2% Medicare levy), which means after claiming the tax deduction, she pays $690 less tax.
* Assuming no other sources of income or tax deductions, Alice’s marginal tax rate is 34.5%.
Any earnings made by the investments in your super or transition to retirement (TTR) account are generally taxed at 15%. That tax is deducted before the earnings are applied to your account.
When you fully retire and move your super into a Retirement Income Stream, investment earnings are no longer subject to tax, because you’ve earned it.
Most of us look forward to winding down and enjoying retirement. After all, that’s why we’ve worked hard for so long. Super is tax free from age 60 if you withdraw it after you’ve met a ‘condition of release’ such as reaching your preservation age (the age at which you can start accessing your super):
|Date of birth||Preservation age|
|01/07/60 - 30/06/61||56|
|01/07/61 - 30/06/62||57|
|01/07/62 - 30/06/63||58|
|01/07/63 - 30/06/64||59|
For more information about when you can access your super tax free, read How super works (pdf)
It’s not a nice topic, but it is important to understand how a death benefit is taxed. A super death benefit is paid when someone passes away. It’s usually paid to the person(s) they’ve nominated to receive their benefit if they die (the beneficiary).
The amount of tax paid by a death benefit beneficiary depends on:
The best place to find more information about tax on death benefits is on the ATO website.
The importance of choosing the right beneficiary for tax purposes
Robyn had a partner and daughter with half her assets held in super and half her assets held outside of super. She wanted to split her estate equally between the two of them and minimise tax where possible in the process. She makes a binding nomination in favour of her partner and then outlines in her will who receives the remainder of her estate.
As the partner is a dependant for tax purposes, they will receive the super benefit tax free.
The daughter then receives the remainder of the estate as Robyn has instructed under her will.
If the super nomination had been made 50/50, the partner would still receive their portion of the benefit tax free, however the daughter would pay tax of up to 17% on her portion of the benefit.
This story highlights the importance of ensuring you not only keep your death benefit nominations up-to-date, but that you understand who is a dependant for tax purposes. After all, the tax man receives enough of our hard-earned money during our lifetime — let’s make sure he doesn’t receive more when we’re gone.