When you choose to ‘sacrifice’ part of your before-tax salary to go to your super account, these contributions will be taxed at a maximum rate of 15%, which is generally less than your marginal tax rate.

A comfortable retirement will cost the average couple around $59,971 per year, according to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia.Based on budgets for various households and living standards for those aged around 65 (March quarter 2017, national).

For some of us, that could mean the 9.5% our employers contribute won’t be enough to live on during retirement, which is why the Government encourages everyone to put more money into super.

One way to do that is through pre-tax salary sacrificing. Any contributions you make with pre-tax dollars are taxed at 15% - which is generally much lower than your marginal tax rate.

So if your marginal tax rate is above 15%, every dollar you put into super through salary sacrificing is worth more to you than that dollar in take-home pay.

Most people can make personal after-tax contributions and then claim a tax deduction – which means you’ll receive the same tax advantages as a salary sacrifice contribution.

[1] Based on Budgets for various households and living
standards for those aged around 65
(June Quarter 2015,
national). Source:
http://www.superannuation.asn.au/resources/retirement-standard
[1] Based on Budgets for various households and living
standards for those aged around 65
(June Quarter 2015,
national). Source:
http://www.superannuation.asn.au/resources/retirement-standard
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What are the before-tax contribution caps?

The government limits the amount you can contribute to your super each year without paying extra tax. These limits are called contribution caps which are in place for both concessional (before-tax) and non-concessional (after-tax).

There is an annual cap of $25,000 in place for concessional contributions for 2017/18. From 1 July 2018, if your total superannuation balance is under $500,000 at the end of the previous financial year, you can use any of your unused cap amounts on a rolling five-year basis. The carry forward option will first be available in the 2019-20 financial year.

For example, if you contribute $20,000 in 2018/19, and $20,000 in 2019/20, you’ll have $10,000 in ‘unused’ contributions that you can contribute in 2020/21 in addition to your annual cap of $25,000. You can carry forward any unused amounts for rolling five-year periods.

This cap is inclusive of the 9.5% super guarantee from your employer. It’s also a combined total across all funds you might have, which is important to keep in mind if you’re contributing to more than one super account.

If your contributions exceed the cap, this amount will be considered part of your assessable income and taxed at your marginal tax rate (plus an excess concessional contributions charge).

The Australian Taxation Office will give you the opportunity to apply for a refund of up to 85% of the excess contributions and you’ll also receive a 15% tax offset in your tax return.

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How to boost your super with salary sacrificing

Salary sacrifice is an arrangement between you and your employer.

To set up regular payments, contact your payroll or HR department to confirm they offer salary sacrificing.

If they do, simply fill out the Contributions by payroll deduction form and hand it to your employer. There are no special requirements about eligibility – anyone with an employer who offers salary sacrificing can do it.

It’s important to understand however that contributing to super through salary sacrificing may reduce the amount your employer contributes.

Your employer is required to contribute 9.5% of your gross income to super.

When you salary sacrifice into super, your gross income may be reduced by that amount. So if you’re earning $55,000 per annum before tax and you sacrifice $5000, then your gross income for the purposes of calculating the 9.5% your employer must contribute is $50,000. So it's best to check with your employer first.

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About salary sacrificing

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Adding more to super

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Tax and super

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