What is salary sacrificing?

What is salary sacrificing?

A growing number of Australians feel less secure about their financial future and believe they need over $1 million to retire comfortably.

And the statistics aren’t encouraging for women, who on average retire with around half as much (53 per cent) superannuation as men.

Finding additional ways to increase your super balance could help you live a comfortable post-working life. This is where making salary sacrifices comes into play.

How do superannuation contributions work?

Employers are legally required to pay 9.5 per cent of ordinary time earnings in superannuation towards every employee over the age of 18 earning more than $450 a month. This is the Super Guarantee.

What is salary sacrificing?

According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), salary sacrificing is “an arrangement between you and your employer where a portion of your pre-tax salary is used to provide benefits of a similar value”.

This is not necessarily a superannuation-only sacrifice, and this money can be used for anything from holidays, cars, weddings, school fees etc.

Salary sacrificing to super is an arrangement where you and your employer pay this nominated portion of your pre-tax salary as an additional concessional contribution to your super account.

How do I salary sacrifice my superannuation?

The process of salary sacrificing involves your employer paying this pre-tax portion of your pay into your super fund. These contributions are taxed at a rate of 15 per cent, which can be an attractive incentive to salary sacrifice as it is lower than the marginal tax rate.

You will need to discuss this with your employer and ensure you get this arrangement in writing, including your employer guaranteeing the continuation of paying your super guarantee payments on your gross income before salary sacrificing.

What are the benefits of salary sacrificing?

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Apart from the added benefit of boosting your retirement savings, making salary sacrifices can help you to save money in the long run.

The portion of your salary you sacrifice to super is only taxed at 15 per cent, rather than being taxed at your marginal rate.

What are the downsides of salary sacrificing?

Millions of Aussies have been shortchanged on their super contributions under the current Superannuation Act, as there is no distinction between contribution from salary sacrificing or an employer contribution.

Effectively, your employer can calculate your 9.5 per cent guaranteed super payment from your post-salary sacrifice income level. However, things are looking up for salary sacrificing Aussies.

In 2017, Financial Services Minister Kelly O’Dwyer announced new legislation that would prevent companies from reducing the amount of superannuation contributions they pay workers if they choose to salary sacrifice. This will also force employees to pay back workers their full superannuation entitlements.

Pros
  • Increase retirement savings.
  • Pay less tax.
Cons
  •  If not carefully monitored, your employer can end up calculating your super guarantee payments on your gross income after salary sacrificing.

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Things to consider before salary sacrificing?

According to the Australian Taxation Office, you should consider whether the:

  • Additional salary you wish to sacrifice will cause you to exceed your concessional (before-tax) contributions cap and attract additional tax – this cap limits the amounts that can be contributed to your super fund and still receive the concessional tax rate of 15 per cemt
  • Salary amount you sacrifice will attract Division 293 tax – this occurs when you have an income and concessional super contributions of more than:
    • $300,000 in one year, before 1 July 2017
    • $250,000 in one year, from 1 July 2017

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Learn more about superannuation

What is salary sacrificing?

A salary sacrifice is where your employer takes part of your pre-tax salary and pays it directly into your superannuation account. Salary sacrifices come out of your pre-tax income, whereas personal contributions come out of your after-tax income.

How can I increase my superannuation?

You can increase your superannuation through a ‘salary sacrifice’. This is where your employer takes part of your pre-tax salary and pays it directly into your superannuation account. Like regular superannuation contributions, salary sacrifices are taxed at 15 per cent when they are paid into the fund.

What is the superannuation rate?

The superannuation rate, or guarantee rate, is the percentage of your salary that your employer must pay into your superannuation fund. The superannuation guarantee has been set at 9.5 per cent since the 2014-15 financial year. It is scheduled to rise to 10.0 per cent in 2021-22, 10.5 per cent in 2022-23, 11.0 per cent in 2023-24, 11.5 per cent in 2024-25 and 12.0 per cent in 2025-26.

How much is superannuation?

Superannuation is currently 9.5 per cent – which means that your employer must pay you superannuation equivalent to 9.5 per cent of your salary.

The ‘superannuation guarantee’, as it is known, has been at 9.5 per cent since the 2014-15 financial year. It is scheduled to rise to 10.0 per cent in 2021-22, 10.5 per cent in 2022-23, 11.0 per cent in 2023-24, 11.5 per cent in 2024-25 and 12.0 per cent in 2025-26.

How does superannuation work?

Superannuation is paid by employers to employees, at least once every three months. The ‘superannuation guarantee’ is currently 9.5 per cent – which means that your employer must pay you superannuation equivalent to 9.5 per cent of your salary. The guarantee is scheduled to rise to 10.0 per cent in 2021-22, 10.5 per cent in 2022-23, 11.0 per cent in 2023-24, 11.5 per cent in 2024-25 and 12.0 per cent in 2025-26.

Superannuation is generally taxed at 15 per cent. However, if you earn less than $37,000, you will be automatically reimbursed up to $500 of the tax you paid. Also, if your income plus concessional superannuation contributions exceed $250,000, you will also be charged Division 293 tax. This is an extra 15 per cent tax on your concessional contributions or the amount above $250,000 – whichever is lesser.

You can withdraw your superannuation when you meet the ‘conditions of release’. The conditions of release say you can claim your super when you reach:

  • Age 65
  • Your ‘preservation age’ and retire
  • Your preservation age and begin a ‘transition to retirement’ while still working

 

Is superannuation taxed?

Superannuation is taxed. It is generally taxed at 15 per cent. However, if you earn less than $37,000, you will be automatically reimbursed up to $500 of the tax you paid. Also, if your income plus concessional superannuation contributions exceed $250,000, you will also be charged Division 293 tax. This is an extra 15 per cent tax on your concessional contributions or the amount above $250,000 – whichever is lesser.

How do you calculate superannuation from a total package?

Superannuation is calculated at the rate of 9.5 per cent of your ‘ordinary-time earnings’. (For most people, ordinary-time earnings are their gross annual salary or wages.) So if you had a salary of $50,000, your superannuation would be 9.5 per cent of that, or $4,750. This would be paid on top of your salary.

As the Australian Taxation Office explains, some items are excluded from ordinary-time earnings. They include:

  • Overtime work paid at overtime rates
  • Expense allowances that are fully expended
  • Expenses that are reimbursed
  • Unfair dismissal payments
  • Workers’ compensation payments
  • Parental leave
  • Jury duty
  • Defence reserve service
  • Unused annual leave when employment is terminated
  • Unused long service leave when employment is terminated
  • Unused sick leave when employment is terminated

Although the superannuation guarantee is currently at 9.5 per cent, it is scheduled to rise to 10.0 per cent in 2021-22, 10.5 per cent in 2022-23, 11.0 per cent in 2023-24, 11.5 per cent in 2024-25 and 12.0 per cent in 2025-26.

How do you calculate superannuation?

Superannuation is calculated at the rate of 9.5 per cent of your gross salary and wages. So if you had a salary of $50,000, your superannuation would be 9.5 per cent of that, or $4,750. This would be paid on top of your salary.

The ‘superannuation guarantee’, as it is known, has been at 9.5 per cent since the 2014-15 financial year. It is scheduled to rise to 10.0 per cent in 2021-22, 10.5 per cent in 2022-23, 11.0 per cent in 2023-24, 11.5 per cent in 2024-25 and 12.0 per cent in 2025-26.

What happens to my insurance cover if I change superannuation funds?

Some superannuation funds will allow you to transfer your insurance cover, without interruption, if you switch. However, others won’t. So it’s important you check before changing funds.

How do you claim superannuation?

There are three different ways you can claim your superannuation:

  • Lump sum
  • Account-based pension
  • Part lump sum and part account-based pension

Two rules apply if you choose to receive an account-based pension, or income stream:

  • You must receive payments at least once per year
  • You must withdraw a minimum amount per year
    • Age 55-64 = 4%
    • Age 65-74 = 5%
    • Age 75-79 = 6%
    • Age 80-84 = 7%
    • Age 85-89 = 9%
    • Age 90-94 = 11%
    • Age 95+ = 14%

If you want to work out how long your account-based pension might last, click here to access ASIC’s account-based pension calculator.

What is the difference between accumulation and defined benefit funds?

A majority of Australians are in accumulation funds. These funds grow according to the amount of money invested and the return on that money.

A minority of Australians are in defined benefit funds – many of which are now closed to new members. These funds give payouts according to specific rules, such as how long the worker has been with their employer and their final salary before they retired.

What are reportable superannuation contributions?

For employees, there are two types of reportable superannuation contributions:

  • Reportable employer super contributions your employer makes for you
  • Personal deductible contributions you make for yourself

What are reportable employer superannuation contributions?

Reportable employer superannuation contributions are special contributions that an employer makes on top of the regular compulsory contributions. One example would be contributions made as part of a salary sacrifice arrangement.

Am I entitled to superannuation if I'm a part-time employee?

As a part-time employee, you’re entitled to superannuation if:

  • You’re over 18 and earn more than $450 before tax in a calendar month
  • You’re under 18, you work more than 30 hours per week and you earn more than $450 before tax in a calendar month