Superannuation is money set aside over your lifetime to provide for your retirement. For most people, superannuation begins when you start work and your employer starts paying super for you - these payments are known as super guarantee contributions or concessional contributions. Super funds invest your money in many things, such as shares, property and managed funds. Complying super funds receive more favourable tax treatment than individuals and companies.
Compulsory employer contributions
Most people are entitled to compulsory super contributions from their employer. These super guarantee contributions must be at least 9% of your ordinary earnings, up to the 'maximum contribution base'. You may also be entitled to choose the fund your super is paid into. You can check that your employer is paying the correct super and, if necessary, ask us to look into it.
Other contributions and co-contributions
You can boost your super by making your own contributions and may be eligible for government co-contributions. You might also want to consider a salary sacrifice arrangement to grow your super. The amount of tax on your contributions depends on whether they are concessional (sometimes referred to as 'before tax') or non-concessional (sometimes referred to as 'after tax') contributions, and whether you exceed the contribution caps.
Keeping track of your super
If you've ever changed your name, address or job, you may have more than one super account or even have some lost super. Combining your super into one account will save you fees and makes it easier to keep track of your super. You can easily check for lost super by using the ATO online SuperSeeker tool.
Accessing your super benefits
You can access your super when you reach 'preservation age' and retire, or turn 65 (even if you haven't retired). There are very limited circumstances where you can access your super savings early. The tax treatment of super and death benefits depends on a number of factors, such as when and how the benefits are paid. They may have both taxable and tax-free components. If you're a temporary resident working in Australia, you can apply for your super when you leave.