Building your super
It’s all about setting up the future you want. Putting a little towards your super today, could mean a lot for you tomorrow. At the very least, you have your employer Superannuation Guarantee (SG) contributions, which are a great start for building your super for your retirement.
Every little bit helps
Pay yourself forward! Even small amounts that are set aside can make a huge difference over the long term. A small amount could make a big difference. Find out more about how you can build your super below.
What type of lifestyle do you picture for yourself?
What does a comfortable retirement look like to you? Even if your ideal future changes every year, it’s worth thinking about it today so you can plan how much money you’ll need to maintain your preferred lifestyle.
For a rough idea, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia's retirement standard, states that for a 'comfortable' retirement:
- Single people will need $545,000 in retirement savings
- Couples will need $640,000
What is the difference between a comfortable retirement lifestyle and a modest one? It depends on your definition. To help you think about it, we’ve pulled the following comparisons together.
Comfortable retirement Modest retirement Age pension Travel One annual holiday in Australia One or two short breaks in Australia near where you live each year Even shorter breaks or day trips in your own city Eating out Regularly eat out at restaurants –good range and quality food Infrequently eat out at restaurants that have cheap food. Cheaper and less food than a 'comfortable' lifestyle standard Only club special meals or inexpensive takeaway Car Owning a reasonable car Owning an older, less reliable car No car or, if you have a car, it will be a struggle to afford repairs Clothes Good clothes Reasonable clothes Basic clothes Leisure activities Take part in a range of regular leisure activities Take part in one paid leisure activity infrequently. Some trips to the cinema Only taking part in no cost or very low cost leisure activities. Rare trips to the cinema Private health insurance Private health insurance Private health insurance No private health insurance
Source: The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia’s Retirement Standard
See how much you’ll have in retirement using our retirement simulator calculator.
There are several ways you can put money towards your super fund and save more for your future.
Let’s face it. Planning your future is more than planning for yourself. It’s also about your family. You can make super contributions for your spouse if they’re not employed or earn less than $40,000 p.a.
A spouse can be married or de-facto and there are possibly tax incentives available to those who are eligible.
You may even be entitled to a tax offset of up to $540 (maximum) each financial year if:
- You do not claim a tax deduction for the contribution
- At the time the contribution is made, both you and your spouse are Australian residents and live together on a permanent basis
- The sum of the spouse's assessable income (including fringe benefits and super contributions) for the financial year is less than $40,000
- The contribution is made to a complying superannuation fund for the income year
Please note that the maximum $540 offset amount can only be received if the spouse is earning less than $37,000 p.a but if they are earning more than this amount, the tax off-set is progressively reduced until the tax-offset reaches zero for those spouses that are earning more than $40,000 p.a.
Also important to note that you can’t claim this tax offset if:
- Your spouse has exceeded their non-concessional contributions cap for the financial year
- Your spouse’s super balance is $1.6 million (for 2019/20) or more on 30 June of the previous financial year in which the contribution was made
You can view this information here
Your personal circumstances will determine whether you end up paying less tax so check out the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website for more information or discuss with your financial adviser.
Employer Super Guarantee contributions
If you are an eligible employee, your employer must pay your super on your behalf by law. These contributions are usually referred to as Superannuation Guarantee (SG) contributions.
Generally you’ll be considered an eligible employee if you are:
- At least 18 years old;
- Paid $450 (before tax) or more in a calendar month; and
- A full-time, part-time or casual worker.
Here is what you need to know:
- Typically, an SG contribution is 9.5% of your salary or your 'ordinary time earnings', including your benefits such as award payments, bonuses, commission and allowances.
- They are paid "before tax" and therefore make up part of your concessional contribution cap. Keep this in mind if you’re making additional contributions because there can be benefits and disadvantages with the amount you contribute each year.
- Employers must pay these contributions on your behalf at least four times a year, by the quarterly due dates. It's a good idea to log in to your super once a quarter to make sure you’re receiving your payments from your employer. Missed payments have been known to happen so it pays to keep an eye on it.
You have the choice to top up your superannuation account with money out of your own pocket. This is called making a 'voluntary' or 'personal' contribution.
There are 3 types of voluntary (personal) contributions: Salary sacrifice
From 1 January 2020, salary sacrificed super contributions will not:
- reduce the ordinary time earnings that your employer is required to calculate your super entitlement on
- count towards the amount of super guarantee contributions that your employer is required to make in order for them to avoid the super guarantee charge.
More detailed information is available on the ATO website
You can make contributions to super from your gross salary and be taxed at a lower rate of 15% for this contribution.
The 15% tax applies to the concessional contributions (include SG & salary sacrifice). You cannot claim the 15% tax benefit for amount over the cap in any one calendar year. Note: for people who earn over $250k they pay additional tax on SG and salary sacrifice contributions as part of their tax return process. More info on this in our fact sheet.
All you need to do is tell your employer how much of your gross salary you’d like to put into your super and how often, and they’ll arrange this to go alongside your salary payment.
Consider the concessional contribution caps that are applicable to you.
Tax deductible contribution
From 1 July 2017, if you're under 75, you can make a contribution to your super from your personal money and claim a tax deduction at tax time. When you claim a tax deduction on a contribution, that contribution will count towards your concessional contribution cap limit.
This is the same as salary sacrificing, but you decide when you make the payment(s) and then claim back the tax benefit when you do your tax return.
Consider the concessional contribution caps applicable to you. You may need to pay extra tax on amounts in excess of these caps.
If you have maxed out your concessional contribution cap, or you want to take advantage of the government co-contributions scheme, then you can make a contribution to your super from your personal after-tax savings.
You do this if you have some extra money you’d like to put into your super. There is no additional tax claim you can make for this money, but of course it’s additional money in your super fund.
For those that are under 65 years of age, the bring forward rule applies whereby $300,000 in non-concessional contributions can be made over a 3-year rolling period
More detailed information is available on the ATO website.
The current maximum non-concessional (after-tax) contribution cap is $100,000 for the 19/20 financial year and applies to all ages.
If you earn less than $51,813 and you make an after-tax contribution to your super (see after-tax contribution), the government will contribute up to 50c for every dollar you put in up to a maximum of $500 (the amount the government contributes is dependent on your income).
All you need to do is make an after-tax contribution and, as long as your super fund holds your Tax File Number (TFN), your co-contribution will automatically be paid into your fund.
You can boost your super balance and potentially save on tax by contributing an extra amount of your salary to your super. This is called salary sacrificing. This will be taxed at a lower rate of 15% and contributes to your concessional contribution cap.
All you need to do is ask your employer to pay some of your gross salary into your super fund—you decide how much. But remember there are contribution caps you need to keep in mind. If you go over these there could be additional tax you will be required to pay.
The maximum rate your super contributions from your employer (SG contributions) are taxed at is 15%, provided you don’t top the 'before tax contribution cap' for the year. That means any Salary Sacrifice contributions you make are deducted from your Taxable Income.
Just remember, superannuation contributions have to remain in a super fund until you meet a condition of release such as reaching 'preservation age' and may be subject to tax at time of exit. The 9.5% employer contribution may be impacted by your decision to make salary sacrifice contributions. A concessional contribution cap of $25,000 p.a. applies in 19/20 financial year.
Any salary sacrifice amount over the concessional contributions cap will be taxed at your income tax marginal rate. There is also an Excess Concessional Contributions charge (ECC). For more information, head to the ATO website. The scenario above is an example only, actual benefits may vary and will depend on individual circumstances.
For those who are eligible, the government co-contribution initiative is a great way to build up your super. It’s done by making personal contributions from after-tax money. The income thresholds for the co-contribution are raised annually. Based on the figures that apply for FY 19/20, if you contribute money into super from your after-tax income and earn less than $51,813, you could be entitled to a co-contribution from the government. Whether you are an employee or self-employed, this co-contribution could be as high as $500 ($1,000 of personal contributions and $500 in govt co-contribution). This is an annual opportunity so, providing you meet the criteria, you could receive it each year.
To be eligible you generally need to:
- Make a personal (after-tax) contribution to your superannuation
- Earn less than $53,564
- Earn 10% or more of your income from carrying on a business, eligible employment or both
- Have a total superannuation balance less than $1.6m on 30 June for the prior financial year
- Have not exceed your non-concessional contributions cap in the relevant financial year
- Lodge an income tax return for the year you have earned your income
- Ensure your super fund has your tax file number
- Be under 71 years old at the end of the financial year
- You did not hold a temporary visa at any time during the financial year (unless you are a New Zealand citizen or it was a prescribed visa)
If you’re eligible and your income is less than $38,564 FOR FY 19/20 you could receive $0.50 for every after-tax dollar you contribute to superannuation from the government up to the maximum co-contribution of $500.
The co-contribution decreases by 3.33 cents for every dollar you earn over $38,564, reaching zero when you earn $53,564 for FY 19/20. They are measured from your assessable income plus your fringe benefits.
Note: These income levels are for the 19/20 financial year. The income thresholds are indexed annually.
Keep in mind that contribution annual caps can add up across different super accounts and types of contributions. So you need to keep an eye on your concessional and non-concessional contributions to avoid the top marginal tax rate and Medicare levy.
If you would like more information on government co-contributions and the eligibility criteria please visit the ATO
Get the most out of your super in the long term by consolidating your funds. Find out about the benefits and methods in our consolidating super section.
We’re here to help
If you’re a Virgin Money Super customer, you can access our specialist helpline advice service and gain immediate simple super advice from qualified financial advisers—at no additional cost to you.
Financial advisers can help you with a range of enquiries including:
- Superannuation rollovers
- Superannuation customer investment choice selections
- Selecting an appropriate super contribution amount versus paying down debt
- Spouse contribution splitting
- General advice on retirement strategies
- Selection of insured benefit levels
- Salary sacrifice and additional voluntary contributions