Employers must make superannuation contributions to the employees’ to a designated superannuation fund at least every three months. The sum most people receive is predominantly made up of compulsory employer contributions. Superannuation Guarantee law applies to all working Australians, except those earning less than $450 per month, or aged under 18 or over 70. Individuals can choose to make extra voluntary contributions to their superannuation and receive tax benefits for doing so.
Adults up to age 65 can also make personal contributions to a superannuation fund within certain limits. Special rules and limits exist for tax deductible contributions.
Access to superannuation
As superannuation is money invested for one’s retirement, strict government rules prevent early access to preserved benefits except in very limited and restricted circumstances, including severe financial hardship or on compassionate grounds, such as for medical treatment not available through Medicare.
Generally, superannuation benefits fall into three (3) categories:
- Preserved benefits;
- Restricted non-preserved benefits; and
- Unrestricted non-preserved benefits.
Preserved benefits are benefits that must be retained in a superannuation fund until the employee’s ‘preservation age’ (see table below).
Restricted non-preserved benefits although not preserved, cannot be accessed until an employee meets a condition of release, such as terminating their employment in an employer superannuation scheme.
Unrestricted non-preserved benefits do not require the fulfilment of a condition of release, and may be accessed upon the request of the member. For example, where a member has previously satisfied a condition of release and decided not to access the money in their superannuation fund.
|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|
|After 30 June 1964||60|
Eligibility for access to preserved benefits depends on a worker’s preservation age, based on their date of birth, By 2025 all Australian workers wishing to access their superannuation would be at least 60 years old.
Most superannuation is taxed at a flat rate of 15% at two main points: on contributions, and on earnings. Contributions either in the form of employer superannuation payments, or member salary sacrifice, are taxed at this rate. Australians over the age of 60 face no taxes on superannuation pensions (Allocated Pensions), or lump sums if it is from a taxed source.