Superannuation, or Super, is money which is saved to fund your retirement. It’s usually a long term investment, saved over your working life. Superannuation has concessional tax treatment, where most of your earnings are taxed at a maximum rate of 15%.
There’s a lot of bad press around super which can make it seem like it’s not worth bothering with or something you worry about in the future. Successive governments just can’t seem to leave it alone but it is still the most tax-effective way to save for retirement unless you are already not paying any tax.
For most people, super will eventually be one of your largest assets. It’s a way of saving money while paying a lower amount of tax. While the rules can change, it’s still the best legal way to reduce the amount of tax you can pay. Will the rules keep changing? Based on history; yes and we need to stay on top of these changes.
Superannuation is not the investment itself; it is just the structure your investments are held in. The funds can be invested in almost anything with the use of an SMSF. Traditional investments within super funds are broken up by allocating to a range of assets such as shares, bonds, property and cash. One thing we hear is that “I don’t like investing in super”. The truth is you can’t actually invest in “super”, you invest in assets that are in the tax-effective super structure.
Anyone can contribute to a super fund, so long as you are under 67. The most common types of contributions are: Employer contributions – this the minimum amount your employer must pay into your super from your salary (commonly called Superannuation Guarantee, or SG) Salary Sacrifice contributions – these are still employer contributions, but they are in addition to the regular SG contributions. You ‘sacrifice’ part of your salary and have it paid to your superannuation fund instead of to your personal contributions – these can be either after tax (called non-concessional contributions) or before tax (called concessional contributions). The latter ones allow you to claim a tax deduction for the contribution. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you contribute over your contribution caps the resulting tax could be as high as 94%.
And, most people are not aware that there are specific rates and offsets, depending on your level of income. Such as, if you earn more than $250,000 you will pay an additional 15% contributions tax (or 30% in total) and that if you earn less than $37,000 p.a. the 15% contributions tax is paid back into your super through the Low-Income Super Tax Offset (LSITO).
There are a number of contributions types and super strategies, which we can discuss with you if they are suitable for your personal circumstances.