What is a superannuation fund?
A superannuation fund is an institution that is legally allowed to hold and invest your superannuation. There are more than 200 different superannuation funds in Australia. They come in five different types:
- Retail funds
- Industry funds
- Public sector funds
- Corporate funds
- Self-managed super funds
Retail funds are usually run by banks or investment companies.
Industry funds were originally designed for workers from a particular industry, but are now open to anyone.
Public sector funds were originally designed for people working for federal or state government departments. Most are still reserved for government employees.
Corporate funds are arranged by employers for their employees.
Self-managed super funds are private superannuation funds that allow people to directly invest their money.
As a contractor, you’re entitled to superannuation if:
- The contract is mainly for your labour
- 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
Please note that you’re entitled to superannuation even if you have an Australian business number (ABN).
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.
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.
Most people can choose their own superannuation fund. However, you might not have this option if you are a member of certain defined benefit funds or covered by certain industrial agreements. If you don’t choose a superannuation fund, your employer will choose one for you.
There are three different ways you can withdraw 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 (also known as an 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.
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