Salary sacrificing into super – how it works
Salary sacrificing into super is where you choose to have some of your before-tax income paid into your super account by your employer. This is on top of what your employer might pay you under the super guarantee, which is no less than 10% of your earnings, if you’re eligible.
Making salary sacrifice contributions does involve a reduction in your take-home pay, but it also means you could increase your retirement savings while also potentially reducing what you pay in tax. If you’re thinking about setting up a salary sacrifice arrangement, here are some things to consider.
What can I contribute?
You decide how much you want to contribute (as long as you don’t exceed super cap limits) and whether it’s a one-off payment, or something you can afford to do regularly.
How much I can contribute?
You can’t contribute more than $27,500 per year under the concessional super contributions cap or penalties will apply. It’s also important to note that contributions made into your super as part of a salary sacrifice arrangement are not the only contributions that count toward this cap.
Other contributions that count toward your concessional contributions cap typically include:
- Compulsory contributions your employer pays under the super guarantee, including contributions from any other jobs you may have held in the same financial year
- Contributions you make using after-tax dollars which you choose to claim a tax deduction for
What are the potential tax benefits?
If you choose to reduce your before-tax income by salary sacrificing into super, a potential benefit is you may be able to reduce what you pay in income tax for the financial year.
That’s because contributions made via a salary sacrifice arrangement are only taxed at 15% if you earn under $250,000 a year, or 30% if you earn $250,000 or more a year, with most people generally paying more tax on their income than they do on salary sacrifice contributions.
There could also be further tax benefits as investment earnings made inside the super environment also benefit from an equivalent tax saving, which could make a difference when you do eventually withdraw your super savings and retire.
How do I set up a salary sacrifice arrangement?
If salary sacrificing into super is right for you, here’s a quick checklist for how you could set this up.
Make sure your employer offers salary sacrifice
You will need to confirm with your payroll team at work that your employer offers this type of arrangement. If not, you may be able to achieve broadly the same benefits by claiming a tax deduction on contributions you may choose to make using after-tax dollars, but you’ll need to consider whether this is right for you.
Decide how much you want to salary sacrifice, how often and when
You might want to salary sacrifice on an ongoing basis, or as a one-off. Also, you can’t salary sacrifice income that you’ve already received, such as a bonus or leave entitlements, so you’ll need to act well before this money is paid into your regular bank account if you want to salary sacrifice it.
Notify your employer and get any agreement in writing
If you can salary sacrifice (and you know how much, how often and when you want to do it), contact your payroll team at work to find out what information they need. Ask them to confirm in writing when your contributions will start being paid, so you can check that the contributions are being received into your super account.
Make sure you don’t exceed the concessional contributions cap
It’s also worth noting that in addition to your annual cap, you may also be able to contribute unused cap amounts accrued since 1 July 2018, if you’re eligible. This broadly applies to people whose total super balance was less than $500,000 on 30 June of the previous financial year.
Are there any other things I should be aware of?
The value of your investment in super can go up and down. Before making extra contributions, make sure you understand and are comfortable with any potential risks.
The government sets rules about when you can access your super. Generally, you can access it when you’ve reached your preservation age (which will be between the ages of 55 and 60 depending on when you were born) and you retire.