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How to make extra contributions to your super

Published September 2019

Approaching retirement or simply looking at your options for investing additional income? You might want to consider making extra contributions to your super.

The Association of Super Funds Australia (ASFA) has previously stated that singles will need $545,000 in retirement savings, while couples will need $640,000 in order to have a comfortable retirement. Making extra contributions to your super can help you achieve that goal.

“Retirement can stretch over three decades or more and retirees need to be prepared for and invest for the long term,” says ASFA CEO Dr Martin Fahy.

The earlier you start investing in your super, the more opportunity there is to build a tidy super balance thanks to the interest that compounds each year. This is especially important for women, who usually have lower super balances than men. Making extra contributions now can help boost women’s financial security throughout retirement.

Here’s what you need to know about adding extra money to your super.

How to make extra contributions

If you’re looking to put more money into your super on top of the mandatory Superannuation Guarantee payment (9.5% of your ordinary earnings) from your employer, you have a couple of options: pre-tax (concessional) contributions and post-tax (non-concessional) contributions. 

Pre-tax contributions

A pre-tax superannuation contribution lets you put a portion of your salary into your super before income tax is applied to your pay. The compulsory super contributions made by your employer are one form of pre-tax contributions. 

Salary sacrifice super

Salary sacrificing is a relatively common method of making pre-tax super contributions. It involves forming an arrangement with your employer to have a percentage of your income “sacrificed” into your superannuation account instead of your pay check.

One advantage of salary sacrificing is that it can offer a reduction in how much tax you pay. The salary that goes into your super is generally taxed at 15% however you might pay an additional 15% tax if you’re a high income earner. A total tax of 30%, if you’re a high income earner, may very well be less than your usual income tax rate. Plus, the more super you put into your account, the more you’ll be reducing your taxable income. 

The amount you choose to sacrifice is up to you but keep in mind that salary sacrificing reduces your ordinary earnings, as you’ve nominated to put some of your salary into your super.

Post-tax contributions

An after-tax or non-concessional superannuation contribution is taken out of your pay check. In other words, this kind of contribution comes out of the wages you receive after income tax has been applied.

After-tax superannuation contributions are not taxed in your superannuation fund and any contributions you make will be paid out tax-free when you access your super in the future.

Personal contributions

You might have some spare cash or you may have received a bonus at work – whatever the case, you can easily contribute this money to your super account. 

ASFA CEO Dr Martin Fahy echoes this idea, saying, “As tempting as it can be to splurge your tax refund on short-term indulgences, it really makes sense to set it aside for your future, via super. You’ll get a better return on your tax return.”

If you’re aged 65 to 74, you’ll need to meet the requirements of a work test in order to keep making personal contributions. This involves proving that you have worked for at least 40 hours over 30 consecutive days in the financial year that you make the contributions. 

The rules are a little different if you’re aged 65 to 74 and have less than $300,000 in total superannuation. You can make personal contributions, for an additional 12 months, if you satisfied the requirements of the work test in the previous financial year. This is designed to give you the chance to boost your super balance after you’ve retired.

The regulations around the work test requirement may be changing following proposals put forward in the 2019 Federal budget. It’s best to chat to your Financial Adviser who can guide you through current guidelines.

Government contributions

If you earn less than $53,564 in the 2019/20 financial year, you may be eligible for a government co-contribution to your super account.

The government co-contribution scheme operates on a tiered system. The government will pay up to 50 cents for every dollar you personally contribute to your super account, to a maximum of $500, but this amount will vary depending on your earnings.

You will also need to meet the following criteria:

  • Your income is less than $53,564 per year, which includes your assessable income, reportable fringe benefits, and your total reportable super contributions for the financial year
  • You have made one or more after-tax contributions to your super account
  • You earn at least 10% of your income from employment-related activities, running a business, or a combination of both
  • You do not hold a temporary resident visa at any time during the financial year (except if you are a New Zealand citizen or hold a subclass 405 or 410 visa) 
  • You are aged under 71 years old at the end of the financial year
  • You have lodged a tax return for the financial year.

Spouse contribution

You can make post-tax contributions to your partner’s super account if they’re not working or earning a low income. If you make contributions on behalf of your spouse, you may be able to claim a tax offset of up to $540 per financial year. 

There are a few other conditions you’ll need to meet in order to claim this tax offset. You can read more about making super contributions for your spouse in our guide.

Other ways to boost superannuation

There are a few other ways you can boost the amount in your superannuation account:

Downsize your home. If you’re ready to downsize, you’ve owned your own home for ten or more years, you’re aged 65 or older and you meet certain eligibility requirements, you can contribute up to $300,000 per person from the proceeds of your sale. This is on top of any other voluntary super contributions you make.

  • Make sure all your super is consolidated into a single account.
  • Talk to your Financial Adviser about choosing the right super investment options for your circumstances.
  • Participate in part-time work before retiring.

Always make sure you seek financial advice if you’re thinking about altering your superannuation account.

Is it worth making extra contributions to my superannuation?

Making extra contributions to your super could add up to a significant amount of money once you reach retirement. 

Say you’re 40 years old and you want to retire at 67. You’re earning $60,000 per year, your current super balance is $120,000, and you’re paying average fund fees and sticking with balanced investments. If you solely rely on the compulsory Superannuation Guarantee, by the time you reach retirement you’ll have around $298,000 sitting in your super.

If you decide to add salary sacrifice at a rate of 5% per month, your super balance will increase to around $372,000 by the time you retire. If you choose to make personal after-tax contributions of $200 per month until you’re ready to retire, you’ll have around $368,000 sitting in your super. Combining both strategies will mean nearly $442,000 in your super when you reach retirement.

These figures may be different if your salary or additional contributions change, but they’re designed to give you an idea of the growth extra contributions can offer. Chatting to a financial adviser can help you make the right decision as to whether or not you should be making extra contributions to your super.

How much can I contribute to my superannuation?

For pre-tax super contributions, you can contribute up to $25,000 per year to receive the concessional tax rate. Any contributions over this amount will be taxed at your marginal tax rate and an excess concessional contributions charge will apply.

If you have total superannuation of less than $500,000, you may be able to increase your $25,000 cap per year by any unused concessional contributions cap space amounts carried forward from 1 July 2018. Unused cap space amounts are available for a maximum of five years. 

For post-tax contributions, you can contribute up to $100,000 per year, if you have total superannuation of less than $1,600,000. If you are under age 65 on 1 July of the financial year, you may be able to make post-tax contributions which exceed the $100,000 cap, depending on your total superannuation. Any amount that goes over the relevant cap and associated earnings will generally be released from your super fund and you will be taxed at your marginal tax rate on the associated earnings.

Other things to consider before making extra contributions

Accessing super before preservation age

Currently, depending on when you were born, you can access your super when you reach 55 or 60 years old. It’s not that easy to access superannuation before preservation age. Generally speaking, you can only access your super early if you satisfy severe financial hardship, certain compassionate grounds or become permanently incapacitated.

Super vs debt

If you have a debt to pay off, you might want to consider whether extra super contributions are better put towards chipping away at what you owe.

If you’re weighing up whether to make extra contributions to your super or pay off your mortgage, keep in mind that the returns from super funds tend to fluctuate more than mortgage interest rates.

Manage your super with ANZ

ANZ Smart Choice Super offers the flexibility to fit with your changing needs and life stages. With the ability to bundle your banking and super into one account and track your super online or through the ANZ app, ANZ Smart Choice Super is a straightforward and convenient option for managing your super. Find out more about ANZ Smart Choice Super or read about how ANZ Smart Choice Super has performed.

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