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Learn more about superannuation
When did superannuation start?
Australia’s modern superannuation system – in which employers make compulsory contributions to their employees – started in 1992. However, before that, there were various restricted superannuation schemes applying to certain employees in certain industries. The very first superannuation scheme was introduced in the 19th century.
What happens if my employer goes out of business while still owing me superannuation?
If your employer collapses, a trustee or administrator or liquidator will be appointed to manage the company. That trustee/administrator/liquidator will be required to pay your superannuation out of company funds.
If the company doesn’t have enough funds, in some cases company directors will be required to pay your superannuation. If the directors still don’t pay, the Australian Securities & Investment Commission (ASIC) might take legal action on your behalf. However, ASIC might decline to take legal action or might be unsuccessful.
So there might be some circumstances when you don’t receive all the superannuation you’re owed.
What fees do superannuation funds charge?
Superannuation funds can charge a range of fees, including:
- Activity-based fees – for specific, irregular services, such as splitting an account after a divorce
- Administration fees – to cover the cost of managing your account
- Advice fees – for personal investment advice
- Buy/sell spread fees – when you make contributions, switches and withdrawals
- Exit fees – when you close your account
- Investment fees – to cover the cost of managing your investments
- Switching fees – when you choose a new investment option within the same fund
Is superannuation paid on overtime?
As the Australian Taxation Office explains, there are times when superannuation is paid on overtime and times when it isn’t.
Here is the ATO’s summary:
|Payment type||Is superannuation paid?|
|Overtime hours – award stipulates ordinary hours to be worked and employee works additional hours for which they are paid overtime rates||No|
|Overtime hours – agreement prevails over award||No|
|Agreement supplanting award removes distinction between ordinary hours and other hours||Yes – all hours worked|
|No ordinary hours of work stipulated||Yes – all hours worked|
|Casual employee: shift loadings||Yes|
|Casual employee: overtime payments||No|
|Casual employee whose hours are paid at overtime rates due to a ‘bandwidth’ clause||No|
|Piece-rates – no ordinary hours of work stipulated||Yes|
|Overtime component of earnings based on hourly-driving-rate method stipulated in award||No|
Is superannuation included in taxable income?
Superannuation is not included when calculating your income tax. So if you have a salary of $50,000, your assessable income would be $50,000, not $50,000 plus superannuation.
That said, superannuation itself is taxed. It is generally taxed at 15 per cent, although if you earn less than $37,000, you will be reimbursed up to $500 of the tax you paid.
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
How much extra superannuation can I add to my fund?
There is an annual limit of $25,000 for concessional contributions – that is, money paid by your employer and extra money you pay into your account through salary sacrificing. There is also a limit on non-concessional contributions. Australians aged between 65 and 74 have a limit of $100,000 per year. Australians aged under 65 have a limit of $300,000 every three years.
How can I keep track of my superannuation?
Most funds will allow you to access your superannuation account online. Another option is to manage your superannuation through myGov, which is a government portal through which you can access a range of services, including Medicare, Centrelink, aged care and child support.
What age can I withdraw my superannuation?
You can withdraw your superannuation (or at least some of it) when you reach ‘preservation age’. The preservation 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|
When you reach preservation age, you can withdraw all your superannuation if you’re retired. If you’re still working, you can begin a ‘transition to retirement’, which allows you to withdraw 10 per cent of their superannuation each financial year.
You can also withdraw all your superannuation once you reach 65 years.
Do I have to pay myself superannuation if I'm self-employed?
No, self-employed workers don’t have to pay themselves superannuation. However, if you do pay yourself superannuation, you will probably be able to claim a tax deduction.
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.
What happens if my employer falls behind on my superannuation payments?
Am I entitled to superannuation if I'm a contractor?
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).
How do you set up superannuation?
Before you set up a superannuation account, you’ll need to check if you’re allowed to choose your own fund. Most Australians can, but this option doesn’t apply to some workers who are covered by industrial agreements or who are members of defined benefits funds.
Assuming you are able to choose your own fund, the next step should be research, because there are more than 200 different superannuation funds in Australia.
Once you’ve decided on your preferred superannuation fund, head to that provider’s website, where you should be able to fill in an online application or download the appropriate forms. You’ll need your tax file number (assuming you don’t want to be charged a higher tax rate), your contact details and your employer’s details (if you’re employed).
What are ethical investment superannuation funds?
Ethical investment funds limit themselves to making ‘ethical’ investments (which each fund defines according to its own principles). For example, ethical funds might avoid investing in companies or industries that are linked to human suffering or environmental damage.