Whether retirement is on the horizon or right around the corner, it’s never too late to add more to your super. There are simple ways to maximise your balance while you’re still earning a regular income, so you’ll have more for your best retirement.
Many people choose to increase their super contributions during the last 10 to15 years of their working life. These extra payments can make a big difference to your final super balance, and your retirement lifestyle. Plus there are ways you could save on tax too.
The higher your super balance, the more opportunity you have to generate investment returns to boost your super savings. Any returns you receive benefit from compounding. This is where your investment returns go back into your balance and you can earn returns on those returns. It’s like a snowball rolling down a hill, growing larger the longer it rolls, adding layer after layer. The snowball represents your balance, and the layers represent the compound returns.
3 ways to save more super
Most people get a super payment from their employer throughout their working life, known as the Superannuation Guarantee (SG). But you can choose to add more money to your super too. Making extra contributions as you near retirement can help boost your super balance, even in small amounts, and could benefit from any compounding returns too1.
Explore 3 simple ways you can add more to your super balance.
1. Add to your super before tax through salary sacrifice
You can make before-tax contributions on top of your employer's SG payments. This is called salary sacrificing (known as ‘concessional’ contributions) which means your employer pays a portion of your salary directly into your super account rather than into your bank account2.
Aside from boosting your super balance, there are tax benefits to salary sacrificing too:
- Your tax rate may be lower. The tax rate for salary sacrificing into your super account is 15% (if you earn less than $250,000) or 30% (if you earn more than $250,000). However, the tax rate for the salary you take home is your usual income rate, which can be as high as 47%.
- You reduce your taxable income. By putting more of your salary into super, you can decrease your taxable income – and that could mean more savings at tax time.
Your tax savings will depend on how much you contribute to your super. The following table shows the difference between not salary sacrificing, and the first year of salary sacrificing $50 a week ($2,600 a year) on a salary of $60,000 a year:
The salary sacrifice difference
|No salary sacrifice||With salary sacrifice|
|Super contributions (before tax)||$5,700||$8,300|
|Take home pay||$47,753||$46,050|
|Total tax payable||$13,102||$12,595|
Source: AustralianSuper calculations
As you can see from the table above if you earned $60,000 a year and contributed an extra $50 a week to your super before tax, you’d receive a tax saving of $507 in the first year and your take home pay would only be reduced by about $30 a week.
It’s important to remember there’s a $25,000 limit (also called a concessional cap) that applies to contributions made from your before-tax income. However, if your super balance is less than $500,000, you can accrue any unused cap amounts from 1 July 2019 for up to five years – giving you the option to make more before-tax contributions. You’ll pay tax at your marginal rate less a tax offset of 15% and an interest charge on any contributions made above that limit.
2. Add to your super after tax once you’ve been paid
Making an after-tax contribution (known as a non-concessional contribution) is something you can do at any time and in any amount. It’s where you pay money directly into your super account from your bank account. There are several benefits to adding to super after tax:
- You’re not locked into making regular extra super contributions, so you can top up with one-off payments when it suits you.
- It’s a way to add more to your super if your employer doesn’t offer salary sacrifice.
- There is a much higher cap on after-tax contributions compared to those made before-tax. You can make a maximum of $100,000 in super contributions after tax each year, before you pay additional tax.
- You can claim a tax deduction on after-tax contributions up to the concessional contributions limit of $25,000 a year. Just make sure you contact your super fund and submit a Notice of intent to claim a tax deduction form, before you lodge your tax return.
AustralianSuper members can contribute to their account quickly and easily from their devices with the AustralianSuper app.
3. Your partner can help boost your super
Your partner can keep your super balance growing if you take a break from work or reduce your hours for any reason. This is known as a spousal contribution. Not only does your super get a boost but it can be tax-effective for your partner:
- Your partner is eligible for a tax offset if they contribute up to $3,000 to your super as an after-tax payment (non-concessional contribution), and you earn $40,000 or less a year.
- If your earnings are under $37,000 a year, they can claim the maximum tax offset of $540.
Your partner can also split their pre-tax super contributions with you (concessional contributions). Contribution splitting or ‘super splitting’ means your partner can pay up to 85% of these contributions into your super account instead of theirs once a year.
This could include contributions made by:
- your partner’s employer
- other contributions your partner has arranged through salary sacrificing.
When making before or after-tax contributions, be mindful of the contribution limits that apply. Exceeding these limits may mean you pay extra tax.
Get a government co-contribution if you’re a low-income earner
Making after-tax payments to your super could mean an additional contribution from the Federal Government to help boost your retirement savings – a government co-contribution.
If you make after-tax contributions and earn less than $54,837 a year before tax, the Government will match 50 cents for every dollar you add to your super, up to a maximum of $500 a year.
Government super co-contribution income thresholds
|YOUR TOTAL INCOME*||YOUR CONTRIBUTION||CO-CONTRIBUTION|
* Total Income: Assessable income, plus reportable employer super contributions, plus reportable fringe benefits for the 20/21 financial year.
Everyday spending and your super
Keeping an eye on your spending as you near retirement can help you understand your budget and put more into super. There are some simple ways to review your everyday spending, such as using free budgeting tools, and checking your bank statements and any household bills you receive.
It’s also a good idea to check if you have more one super fund. Multiple super accounts mean multiple fees which can chip away at your balance so it could be worth getting your super accounts all together.
See the difference small, regular contributions could make to your final retirement income using the Super Projection Calculator. Head towards retirement with confidence and make sure you’re in control of your super savings by adding to your super today.
1. Before adding to your super, consider your financial circumstances , contribution caps that may apply, and tax issues.
2. Salary sacrifice may affect some Government benefits and employee benefits. Consider getting financial advice before deciding if a salary sacrifice arrangement is right for you.
3. Before consolidating your super, ask your other super provider about any fees or charges that may apply, and other information about the effect this transfer may have on your benefits, such as insurance cover.