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.
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
The preservation age – which is different to the pension age – is based on date of birth. Here are the six different categories:
|Date of birth||Preservation age|
|Before 1 July 1960||55|
|1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961||56|
|1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962||57|
|1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963||58|
|1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964||59|
|From 1 July 1964||60|
A transition to retirement allows you to continue working while accessing up to 10 per cent of the money in your superannuation account at the start of each financial year.
There are also seven special circumstances under which you can claim your superannuation:
- Compassionate grounds
- Severe financial hardship
- Temporary incapacity
- Permanent incapacity
- Superannuation inheritance
- Superannuation balance under $200
- Temporary resident departing Australia
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.
The Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) regulates ordinary superannuation accounts. Self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) are regulated by the Australian Taxation Office.
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.
If your employment is terminated, superannuation will not be paid on unused annual leave.
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