Tax-effective ways to boost your super

Tax-effective ways to boost your super

After a year when the average superannuation balance fell slightly or, at best, moved sideways, now could be a good time to think about ways to rebuild your savings while being mindful of tax.

With the Reserve Bank reducing interest rates to record lows and not anticipating a rise until 2024, it’s more important than ever to ensure your retirement savings are working as hard as possible.

One way to do that is by taking advantage of super, which offers valuable opportunities to tax-effectively rebuild your retirement savings.

Reducing your tax bill

If you make super contributions by setting up a salary sacrifice arrangement with your employer, for example, you can potentially reduce your tax bill while also boosting your super.

By diverting some of your pre-tax salary into super rather than taking it as take home pay, your money will be taxed at 15 per cent, rather than your marginal tax rate.

Investments made through super also enjoy a concessional tax rate of only 15 percent on any investment earnings. This compares with tax at your marginal rate, which could be as high as 47 per cent (including the Medicare Levy), on investment earnings outside super.

Claim a tax deduction

You are also able to make personal super contributions on which you claim a tax deduction.

Previously only available to the self-employed, this strategy is now available to everyone. It allows you to claim a tax deduction in your annual tax return for eligible voluntary contributions into your super account made during the financial year from your after-tax earnings.

Providing you stay under the annual concessional contribution limit (currently $25,000 a year), this can be a useful way to cut the amount of income you pay tax on.

Play catch-up with your contributions

If you have less than $500,000 in your super account, you may consider making carry-forward concessional contributions. If you haven’t fully used your annual concessional contributions caps since 1 July 2018, you may have some unused cap amounts that you could use to make a larger contribution this financial year.

Unused concessional cap amounts can now be carried forward for up to five years.

Consider non-concessional contributions

If you have more funds available and are closer to retirement, you might also consider making a non-concessional (after tax) contribution into your super account to boost the amount you have in the run-up to retirement.

Generally, you can contribute up to $100,000 a year in after-tax money. Not only is the tax on investment earnings on these contributions only 15 per cent, but they boost the income you can enjoy tax-free in retirement.

If you have a larger amount available, from an inheritance or selling an asset for example, you could even consider making a bring-forward contribution of up to $300,000 in a single year if you are under age 65.

Get the government to contribute

Another opportunity for eligible low to middle income earners is to make a personal after tax contribution of up to $1,000 and potentially receive a co contribution of up to $500 from the government. The co-contribution amount will vary depending on your income and the amount of contributions you make, but it can be an easy way to increase your super balance.

Another tax strategy to consider if your spouse or de facto partner earns less than $40,000 is to make an after-tax contribution into their super account. You could be eligible for the maximum tax offset of up to $540 if you make a contribution of at least $3,000 into your spouse’s super account, provided they earn $37,000 or less. The tax offset tapers off as your spouse’s income increases before cutting out at $40,000.

Strategic review of asset allocation

As super is a structure for investing, not an investment in its own right, it might also be a good time to take a closer look at the mix of assets in your super.

After COVID-induced market volatility, and with historically low interest rates, your allocation may have drifted away from your strategic plan.

With the right advice, tax-effective super strategies offer an easy way to rebuild your retirement savings and achieve your overall wealth creation goals.

If you would like to discuss your super or investment strategy, call us today.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.


super changes add flexibility

Super Changes Add Flexbility

super changes add flexibility

Super Changes Add Flexbility

Just when you thought you had a grip on the superannuation rules, they change again. This time though, the changes are mostly positive, especially for older super members keen to top up their savings.

From 1 July 2020, changes came into effect with the potential to help retirees as well as members suffering financial hardship due to the economic impacts of COVID-19.

If you are not working you may be able to contribute to super for longer, while couples can take advantage of spouse contributions for longer. The temporary reduction in minimum pension drawdowns remains in place, as does early access to super. And if you own a business, you have a brief window of opportunity to get up to date with your employees’ super payments without penalty.

Here’s a summary of the new rules.

Work test to kick in at 67

Under changes to the work test, if you are aged 65 or 66 you can now put money into super even if you aren’t working. This gives people flexibility to make voluntary catch-up contributions for a few more years and give their retirement savings a last-minute boost.

Say you are 65 and inherit some money. You can now make a voluntary non-concessional contribution to your super account up to the annual limit of $100,000, even if you are not currently working enough hours to satisfy the work test. You can make withdrawals from this money or start a super pension.

Under the work test, which now kicks in at age 67, you must work at least 40 hours within 30 consecutive days in the financial year in which you make the contribution.

It was also proposed to allow people aged 65 and 66 at the start of the financial year to use the existing non-concessional bring forward rules. If eligible, this allows you to ‘bring forward’ up to three years’ worth of non-concessional contributions (up to $300,000) in the current financial year. Legislation must be passed before this proposal becomes effective.

Couples get a super boost

Couples also have more flexibility to grow their retirement savings later in life, thanks to recent changes to spouse contributions. As of 1 July 2020, you can contribute to your spouse’s super fund until they reach age 75, up from the previous age limit of 70.

What’s more, if your spouse (married or de facto) earns less than $37,000 you may be able to claim a tax offset of up to $540 for your contribution to their super. The offset phases out once your partner’s income reaches $40,000.

The usual non-concessional contribution limits still apply, and the receiving spouse still needs to meet the work test where applicable (outlined above).

Super pension drawdowns halved

Retirees whose superannuation has taken a hit from the COVID-19 market volatility have also been given a bit more wriggle room this financial year. The government has temporarily halved the minimum amount retirees must withdraw each financial year from their account-based super pension.

This temporary measure will help retirees who might otherwise have to sell assets at depressed prices to provide cash for their pension payments.

For example, someone aged 65 would normally be required to withdraw 5 per cent of their super pension account balance each financial year. But in 2020-21 they need only withdraw 2.5 per cent of their account balance if they wish. The minimum drawdown rate increases gradually with age, reaching 7 per cent from age 95 under the temporary rules (normally 14 per cent), as you can see in the table below. There is no maximum withdrawal rate.

Table 1: Minimum pension drawdown rates (as a percentage of your super pension account balance)

Age of beneficiaryTemporary withdrawal rate
2019-20 and 2020-21
Normal withdrawal rate
Under 652%4%
65 to 742.5%5%
75 to 793%6%
80 to 843.5%7%
85 to 894.5%9%
90 to 945.5%11%
95 and older7%14%

Source: ATO

Early release of super

Younger super fund members have not been forgotten. You can withdraw up to $10,000 from your super account this financial year if you are suffering financial hardship due to the economic impact of COVID-19. This is in addition to the $10,000 you could withdraw last financial year.

It must be stressed though, that the early withdrawal of your super should be a last resort because of the adverse impact on your retirement savings. An amount of $10,000 withdrawn early in your working life could potentially be worth many times that by the time you retire.

If, after weighing up your financial options, you wish to take advantage of this temporary measure the application period has recently been extended to 31 December 2020.

This article is intended as an information source only and to provide general information only. The comments, examples, words and extracts from legislation and other sources in this publication do not constitute legal advice, financial or tax advice and should not be relied upon as such. All readers should seek advice from a professional adviser regarding the application of any of the comments in this article to their particular situation.