Living your best life in retirement

If you’re nearing retirement age, it’s likely you’re wondering if you will have enough saved to give up work and take it easy, particularly as cost-of-living increases hit some of the basic expenses such as energy, insurance, food and health costs.

Fortunately, someone has already worked out what you might need.

The Association of Superannuation Funds in Australia (ASFA) updates its Retirement Standard every year, which provides a breakdown of expenses for two types of lifestyles: modest and comfortable.i

Based on our average life expectancy – for women it is just over 85 years and men 81 – if you are about to retire at say age 67, you will have between 14 and 18 years in retirement, on average and depending on your gender.ii

ASFA finds that a couple needs $46,944 a year to live a modest lifestyle and $72,148 to live a comfortable lifestyle. That’s equal to $902 a week and $1387 respectively. The figure is of course lower for a single person – $32,666 for a modest lifestyle ($628 a week) or $51,278 ($986) for a comfortable lifestyle.iii

What does that add up to? ASFA estimates that, for a modest lifestyle, a single person or a couple would need savings of $100,000 at retirement age, while for a modest lifestyle, a couple would need at least $690,000.iv

A modest lifestyle means being able to afford everyday expenses such as basic health insurance, communication, clothing and household goods but not going overboard. The difference between a modest and a comfortable lifestyle can be significant. For example, there is no room in a modest budget to update a kitchen or a bathroom; similarly overseas holidays are not an option.

The rule of thumb for a comfortable retirement is an estimated 70 per cent of your current annual income.v (The reason you need less is that you no longer need to commute to work and you don’t need to buy work clothes.)

Building your nest egg

So how can you build up a sufficient nest egg to provide for a good life in retirement? There are three main sources: superannuation, pension and investments/savings. Superannuation has the key advantage that the money in your pension is tax free in retirement.

Your superannuation pension can be augmented with the government’s Aged Pension either from the moment you retire or later when your original nest egg diminishes.

Your income and assets will be taken into account if you apply for the Age Pension but even if you receive a pension from your super fund, you may still be eligible for a part Age Pension. You may also be eligible for rent assistance and a Health Care Card, which provides concessions on medicines.vi

Money keeps growing

It’s also important to remember that the amount you accumulate up to retirement will still be generating an income, whether its rentals from investment properties or merely the growth in the value of your share investments and the accumulation of money from any dividends paid.

You can also continue to add to your superannuation by, for instance, selling your family home and downsizing, as long as you have lived in the home for more than 10 years.

If you are single, $300,000 can go into your super when you downsize and $600,000 if you are a couple. This figure is independent of any other superannuation caps.vii

Planning for a good life in retirement often require just that – planning. If you would like to discuss how retirement will work for you, then give us a call.

Retirement Standard – Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia
ii Life expectancy, 2020 – 2022 | Australian Bureau of Statistics (abs.gov.au)
iii https://www.superannuation.asn.au/media-release/retiree-budgets-continue-to-face-significant-cost-pressures
iv https://www.superannuation.asn.au/resources/retirement-standard/
https://www.gesb.wa.gov.au/members/retirement/how-retirement-works/cost-of-living-in-retirement
vi Assets test for Age Pension – Age Pension – Services Australia
vii Downsizer super contributions | Australian Taxation Office (ato.gov.au)

Insurance is a sound investment

Managing risk is an essential part of investment strategy to reduce the potential for losses.

Risk is not just associated with investing though – life can throw a curve ball or two and insurance is one way to manage risk in a broader context.

It’s a matter of weighing up your risks and thinking about what you would do if the worst happened. Could you afford to build a new house, buy a new car or support your family if you became too ill to work?

Various insurance products or self-insurance can help to mitigate these types of risks.

Underinsurance

While many Australians have some form of life insurance through their superannuation, the level of cover is rarely sufficient. The standard offering within the super framework is well below what your family need to live comfortably should you die or lose your ability to earn an income.

A Financial Services Council report, estimates that as many as one million Australians are underinsured for death and total permanent disability (TPD) and 3.4 million for income protection.i

Rice Warner estimates that insurance cover for a 30-year-old with dependents should equal eight times the annual family income for life insurance, four times the family income for TPD and 85 per cent of the family income for income protection. The default superannuation offering falls well short of this figure.ii

Home and contents

But it’s not just life insurance. There is also a fair amount of underinsurance in home and contents.

With the growing incidence of bushfires, floods and storms, protecting your home and possessions with insurance is more important than ever.

The biggest mistake is insufficient cover to rebuild your property particularly with the recent surge in building costs. You should also consider the costs associated with demolition and removal of debris, the cost of architects and builders and the need to find alternative accommodation while your home is being rebuilt.

It is important not to head for the cheapest policy as this may well fail to meet your needs. Read the product disclosure statement to make sure the cover delivers exactly what you need.

Health and travel

Health insurance and travel insurance are also important considerations.

You will pay a Medicare Levy surcharge if you do not take out private health insurance and have a taxable income above $93,000 for singles or $186,000 for a family, couple or a single parent (increased by $1,500 for each dependent child after the first child). This starts at 1 per cent of your taxable income and goes up to 2.5 per cent. So, it is worthwhile weighing up whether taking out private health insurance is the better option.iii

When it comes to travel insurance, if you can’t afford it, you can’t afford to travel overseas, according to the Federal Governments Smart Traveller website.iv The cost of medical care in other countries can be exorbitant and you may need to be transported back to Australia. The expenses can be enormous.

Of course, travel insurance can also help to compensate for cancelled or delayed trips and lost luggage.

Self-insurance alternative

An alternative to taking out an insurance policy is to self-insure. That means putting money aside regularly to build up a big enough fund to help keep a roof over your head or replace a vehicle.v

The upside is that these funds are yours and, properly invested, can grow over time. The downside is that you may not have enough money together when a disaster happens.

Insurance can be the difference between successfully recovering from an event and changing your life forever. If you would like to discuss your insurance needs, call us.

https://fsc.org.au/resources/2537-fsc-australias-life-underinsurance-gap-research-report-2022/file page 18
ii https://www.ricewarner.com/life-insurance-adequacy/
iii https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/medicare-and-private-health-insurance/medicare-levy-surcharge/medicare-levy-surcharge-income-thresholds-and-rates
iv https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/before-you-go/the-basics/insurance
https://www.investopedia.com/terms/s/selfinsurance.asp

Understanding the new $3m super tax

The much-debated tax on superannuation balances over $3 million is inching closer and those who may be affected should ensure they have considered the implications.

Although it is not yet law, the Division 296 tax should be taken into account when it comes to investment strategy and planning, particularly in relation to any end-of-financial-year contributions into super.

Tax for higher account balances

The new tax follows a Federal Government announcement it intended to reduce the tax concessions provided to super fund members with account balances exceeding $3 million.

Once the legislation passes through Parliament and receives Royal Assent, Division 296 will take effect from 1 July 2025. Division 296 legislation imposes an additional 15 per cent tax (on top of the existing 15 per cent) on investment earnings of a super account where your total super balance exceeds $3 million at the end of the financial year.i

The extra 15 per cent is only applied to the amount that exceeds $3 million.

Given the complexity of the new rules, it is important to seek professional advice so you can make informed decisions.

How the new rules work

A crucial part of the new legislation is the Adjusted Total Super Balance (ATSB), which determines whether you sit above or below the $3 million threshold.

When assessing your ATSB, the ATO will consider the market value of assets regardless of whether or not this value has been realised, creating a significant impact if your super fund holds property or speculative assets. The legislation also introduces a new formula for calculating your ATSB for Division 296 purposes.

The legislation outlines how deemed earnings will be apportioned and taxed, based on the amount of your account balance over the $3 million threshold.

Negative earnings in a year where your balance is greater than $3 million may be carried forward to a future financial year to reduce Division 296 liabilities. If you are liable for Division 296 tax, you can choose to pay the liability personally or request payment from your super fund.

Strategic rethink may be needed

For many fund members, superannuation remains an attractive investment strategy due to its favourable tax treatment.ii

But those with higher account balances need to understand the potential effect of the Division 296 tax. For example, given the new rules, you may need to consider whether high-growth assets should automatically be held inside super.

Holding long-term investments that may be more difficult to liquidate, such as property, within super may be less attractive in some cases, because the new rules create the potential to be taxed on a gain that is never realised. This could occur where the value of an asset increases during a financial year but drops in value by the time it is actually sold.

For some, holding commercial property assets (such as your business premises) within your SMSF may be less attractive.

It will also be important to balance asset protection against tax effectiveness. For some people, the asset protection provided by the super system may outweigh the tax benefits of other investment vehicles, such as a family trust.

Division 296 will require more frequent and detailed asset valuations, so you will need to balance this administrative burden with the tax benefits of super.

Estate planning implications

Your estate planning will also need to be revisited once Division 296 is law.

The tax rules for super death benefits are complex and should be carefully reviewed to ensure you don’t leave an unnecessary tax bill for your beneficiaries.

If you still have many years to go before retirement and hold high-growth assets in your fund, you will need to closely monitor your super balance.

If you want to learn more about how Division 296 tax could affect your super savings, contact our office today.

https://treasury.gov.au/sites/default/files/2023-09/c2023-443986-em.pdf
ii https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/super-for-individuals-and-families/super/growing-and-keeping-track-of-your-super/caps-limits-and-tax-on-super-contributions/understanding-concessional-and-non-concessional-contributions

SMSFs: What happens if you exceed your super caps

The rules around making some types of super contributions have been relaxed in recent years, so it’s worth exploring the different opportunities available to you before making a large contribution.i

What are contribution caps?

Given the tax-effective environment of Australia’s super system, there are annual limits on how much you can contribute each financial year.

The two main types of contributions are concessional (before-tax) and non-concessional (after-tax) contributions.

Concessional contributions include employer Super Guarantee contributions, salary sacrifice and personal tax-deductible contributions, with the general contributions cap for 2023-24 being $27,500. In some situations, you may be permitted to contribute more if you have unused cap amounts from previous financial years.

If you’re a SMSF member, you may be able to make a concessional contribution in one financial year and have it count towards your concessional cap in the following financial year.

Non-concessional contributions cap

If you use after-tax money to make a super contribution, this is classes as a non-concessional contribution and there is no tax payable when the contribution is paid into your super account.

The general non-concessional contributions cap in 2023-24 is $110,000 provided you meet all the eligibility criteria, such as your Total Super Balance being below your personal limit. Your personal cap may be different.

If you’re age 55 or older, the once-only downsizer contribution cap is $300,000 per person ($600,000 for a couple). These contributions from the sale of your main residence don’t count towards your annual non-concessional cap.

Exceeding your contribution caps

There are different rules for super contributions that exceed the annual caps, depending on the type of contribution.

If you go over the annual concessional cap, your contribution is counted as personal assessable income and taxed at your marginal tax rate, with a 15 per cent tax offset to reflect the tax already paid by your super fund. Your increased assessable income may also affect any Medicare levy, Centrelink benefits and child support obligations.

The excess contributions can be withdrawn from your super fund, but if you choose not to withdraw them, the excess is counted towards your non-concessional contributions cap.

If you don’t or can’t elect to release excess contributions, you could end up paying up to 94 per cent in tax.ii

Exceed your non-concessional cap

Contributions exceeding your annual non-concessional (after-tax) cap are taxed at 45 per cent plus the 2 per cent Medicare levy. This is in addition to the tax already paid on this money.

Before the ATO applies this tax, you are given the opportunity to withdraw the excess non-concessional contributions, plus a notional amount to reflect the investment earnings.

You pay tax on the notional earnings just like personal income, less a 15 per cent offset.

Withdrawing excess contributions

Like most things to do with tax and super, the process for withdrawing excess contributions is fiddly.

If you have an excess concessional contribution, the ATO sends you a determination letter with details of what you need to do, plus an income tax notice of assessment.

You have 60 days to decide whether to have the excess concessional contribution refunded by the super fund and tax deducted by the ATO, or to pay the tax personally and leave the contribution in your account.

Refunding excess non-concessional contributions

For excess non-concessional contributions, the ATO assumes you wish to have your excess contributions and notional earnings refunded in order to avoid paying 47 per cent on them.

The default process is the ATO automatically issues a release authority to your fund and directs it to deduct the additional tax owing and return the leftover amount to you.

If you wish to nominate a specific fund from which the refund should be paid, or leave the excess in your account and pay the tax personally, you must make an election within 60 days of the initial notice.

Call us today to assess how the super contribution caps may affect you.

https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/super-for-individuals-and-families/super/growing-and-keeping-track-of-your-super/caps-limits-and-tax-on-super-contributions/restrictions-on-voluntary-contributions
ii https://www.ato.gov.au/individuals-and-families/super-for-individuals-and-families/super/growing-and-keeping-track-of-your-super/caps-limits-and-tax-on-super-contributions/concessional-contributions-cap

The importance of SMSF succession planning

Preparing for loss of capacity or death is vital for SMSF members. It’s important to ensure your trust deed is watertight.

There are more than 600,000 self-managed superannuation funds (SMSFs) in Australia, managing close to $900 billion of assets on behalf of over a million Australians.

Each SMSF’s trust deed is legally required to set out the rules for establishing and operating the SMSF including its objectives, who can be a member of the SMSF, and whether benefits can be paid as a lump sum or as an income stream.

But what happens when a member becomes incapacitated, or dies?

Has the SMSF’s trust deed been worded in a way that will make it possible to give effect to the wishes of an incapacitated or deceased member, to the extent those wishes are consistent with superannuation laws?

If you’re a member of an SMSF, it’s important to ensure that you have ticked all the right boxes when it comes to succession planning.

And, to do this, it’s worthwhile considering obtaining tailored professional advice from an SMSF specialist.

Preparing binding death benefit nominations

SMSF members generally have a degree of ability to choose who will get their residual super benefits when they die, by making and giving the SMSF’s trustee a binding death benefit nomination.

This directs the fund’s trustee to pay the benefit to either a legal personal representative or one or more eligible dependants of the member.

However, depending on the wording of your SMSF trust deed and the nomination itself, it is possible that a binding death benefit nomination given by a member will expire after just three years (or any shorter period specified in the trust deed) under Regulation 6.17A of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Regulations 1994 (Cth). In that scenario, assuming the member is still alive, their death benefit nomination would then need to be renewed and there would be no death benefit nomination in place unless and until they do so.

But the High Court ruled last year that it is possible for a validly made binding death benefit nomination to last indefinitely if a trust deed’s wording is structured in such a way that effectively avoids the three-year automatic expiry.

This is a prime example of why it may be worthwhile getting professional advice around the wording in your trust deed covering death benefit nominations as well as your nomination form, including whether they are aligned with your preference as to how often (if at all) death benefit nominations need to be updated in order to be legally effective.

Preparing for loss of capacity or death

Another key aspect for SMSF trustees to consider and plan for is who would take control upon a member’s loss of capacity or death.

For example, problems can arise where someone wanted their super money to go to a child from a previous relationship, but where a second spouse controlling the fund was able to frustrate the wishes of the deceased.

It’s certainly worth asking how your wishes will be honoured if you lose capacity or die. Who will or could be running the fund in this situation? As there are a range of legal factors and restrictions that shape who would be eligible to operate the SMSF or make decisions on your behalf, good quality expert legal and financial advice on these matters can go a long way to avoiding inconvenience, confusion and conflict in future.

Reversionary pension nominations

SMSF trust deeds can generally specify that a superannuation income stream that a member of the SMSF is receiving will automatically transfer to an eligible dependant beneficiary previously nominated by the member upon the member’s death. This nomination is typically referred to as a reversionary pension nomination.

For some SMSF members they can be very important, particularly for people who have a high tax-free component or who are expecting a life insurance payout upon their death.

Some SMSF trust deeds are worded in a way that gives priority to a reversionary pension nomination over a binding death benefit nomination, which can lead to unexpected or unintended outcomes after a member’s death.

Reversionary beneficiary nominations are not necessarily needed or suitable for everyone with an SMSF, but for those wanting to implement them it’s important to ensure they’re permitted under the terms of the trust deed and enforceable in the future.

Getting succession planning advice

SMSF trust deeds can be complex documents, and it’s vital to ensure that yours is structured to ensure it is best placed to conform to your wishes in the event you’re incapacitated or die.

Consider giving us a call or consulting a licensed financial adviser or other relevant qualified professional who specialises in SMSF.

Source: Vanguard

Vanguard Investments Australia Ltd (ABN 72 072 881 086 / AFS Licence 227263) is the product issuer and the Operator of Vanguard Personal Investor. We have not taken your objectives, financial situation or needs into account when preparing this article so it may not be applicable to the particular situation you are considering. You should consider your objectives, financial situation or needs, and the disclosure documents for any financial product we make available before making any investment decision. Before you make any financial decision regarding Vanguard products, you should seek professional advice from a suitably qualified adviser. A copy of the Target Market Determinations (TMD) for Vanguard’s financial products can be obtained at vanguard.com.au free of charge and include a description of who the financial product is appropriate for. You should refer to the TMD before making any investment decisions. You can access our IDPS Guide, PDSs, Prospectus and TMDs at vanguard.com.au or by calling 1300 655 101. Past performance information is given for illustrative purposes only and should not be relied upon as, and is not, an indication of future performance. This article was prepared in good faith and we accept no liability for any errors or omissions.

How a super recontribution strategy could improve your tax position

Withdrawing part of your superannuation fund balance then paying it back into the account, known as a recontribution strategy, may sound a little strange but it could deliver a number of benefits including reducing tax and helping to manage super balances between you and your spouse.

Your super is made up of tax-free and taxable components. The tax-free part generally consists of contributions on which you have already paid tax, such as your non-concessional contributions.

When this component is withdrawn or paid to an eligible beneficiary, there is no tax payable.

The taxable component generally consists of your concessional contributions, such as any salary sacrifice contributions or the Super Guarantee contributions your employers have made on your behalf.

You may need to pay tax on your taxable contributions depending on your age when you withdraw it, or if you leave it to a beneficiary who the tax laws consider is a non-tax dependant.

How recontribution strategies work

The main reason for implementing a recontribution strategy is to reduce the taxable component of your super and increase the tax-free component.

To do this, you withdraw a lump sum from your super account and pay any required tax on the withdrawal.

You then recontribute the money back into your account as a non-concessional contribution. If you withdraw this money from your account at a later date, you don’t pay any tax on it as your contribution was made from after-tax money.

The recontribution doesn’t necessarily have to be into your own super account. It can be contributed into your spouse’s super account, provided they meet the contribution rules.

To use a recontribution strategy you must be eligible to both withdraw a lump sum and recontribute the money into your account. In most cases this means you must be aged 59 to 74 and retired or have met a condition of release under the super rules.

Any recontribution into your account is still subject to the current contribution rules, your Total Super Balance and the annual contribution caps.

Benefits for your non-tax dependants

Recontributing your money into your super account may have valuable benefits when your super death benefit is paid to your beneficiaries.

A recontribution strategy is particularly important if the beneficiaries you have nominated to receive your death benefit are considered non-dependants for tax purposes. (The definition of a dependant is different for super and tax purposes.)

Recontribution strategies can be very helpful for estate planning, particularly if you intend to leave part of your super death benefit to someone who the tax law considers a non-tax dependant, such as an adult child.

Otherwise, when the taxable component is paid to them, they will pay a significant amount of the death benefit in tax. (Your spouse or any dependants aged under 18 are not required to pay tax on the payment.)

Some non-tax dependants face a tax rate of 32 per cent (including the Medicare levy) on a super death benefit, so a strategy to reduce the amount liable for this tax rate can be worthwhile.

By implementing a recontribution strategy to reduce the taxable component of your super benefit, you may be able to decrease – or even eliminate – the tax your non-tax dependant beneficiaries are required to pay.

Watch the contribution and withdrawal rules

Our retirement system has lots of complex tax and super rules governing how much you can put into super and when and how much you can withdraw.

Before you start a recontribution strategy, you need to check you will meet the eligibility rules both to withdraw the money and contribute it back into your super account.

If you would like more information about how a recontribution strategy could help your non-dependants save tax, give our office a call today.

Market movements & review video – October 2023

Stay up to date with what’s happened in Australian markets over the past month.

Household wealth has grown for the third quarter in a row, rising by 2.6% in the June quarter, pushed up by rising house prices and increases in super balances.

How super contributions and withdrawals are taxed

How much tax you pay on your super contributions and withdrawals depends on:

  • your total super amount
  • your age
  • the type of contribution or withdrawal you make

If you inherit someone’s super after they die, the person’s super fund pays you a super death benefit. You may have to pay tax on some of this benefit.

Because everyone’s situation is different, it’s always best to get advice about tax matters. Contact the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or us.

How super contributions are taxed

Money paid into your super account by your employer is taxed at 15%. So are salary-sacrificed contributions, also known as concessional contributions.

There are some exceptions to this rule:

  • If you earn $37,000 or less, the tax is paid back into your super account through the low-income super tax offset (LISTO).
  • If your income and super contributions combined are more than $250,000, you pay Division 293 tax, an extra 15%.

If you make contributions from your after-tax income — known as non-concessional contributions — you don’t pay any contributions tax.

See tax on contributions on the ATO website for more information about how much tax you’ll pay on super contributions.

To avoid paying extra tax on your super, make sure you give your super fund your Tax File Number.

How super investment earnings are taxed

Earnings on investments within your super fund are taxed at 15%. This includes interest and dividends less any tax deductions or credits.

How super withdrawals are taxed

The amount of tax you pay depends on whether you withdraw your super as:

  • a super income stream, or
  • a lump sum

Everyone’s financial situation is unique, especially when it comes to tax. Make an informed decision. We recommend you speak to us to get financial advice before you decide to withdraw your super.

Super income stream

A super income stream is when you withdraw your money as small regular payments over a long period of time.

If you’re aged 60 or over, this income is usually tax-free.

If you’re under 60, you may pay tax on your super income stream.

Lump sum withdrawals

If you’re aged 60 or over and withdraw a lump sum:

  • You don’t pay any tax when you withdraw from a taxed super fund.
  • You may pay tax if you withdraw from an untaxed super fund, such as a public sector fund.

If you’re under age 60 and withdraw a lump sum:

  • You don’t pay tax if you withdraw up to the ‘low rate threshold’, currently $230,000.
  • If you withdraw an amount above the low rate threshold, you pay 17% tax (including the Medicare levy) or your marginal tax rate, whichever is lower.

If you have not yet reached your preservation age:

  • You pay 22% (including the Medicare levy) or your marginal tax rate, whichever is lower.

See the super lump sum tax table on the ATO website for more detailed information.

When someone dies

When someone dies, their super is usually paid to their beneficiary. This is called a super death benefit.

If you’re a beneficiary, the amount of tax you pay on a death benefit depends on:

  • the tax-free and taxable components of the super
  • whether you’re a dependent for tax purposes
  • whether you take the benefit as an income stream or a lump sum

See super death benefits on the ATO website for detailed information or contact us today.

Source:
Reproduced with the permission of ASIC’s MoneySmart Team. This article was originally published at https://moneysmart.gov.au/how-super-works/tax-and-super
Important note: This provides general information and hasn’t taken your circumstances into account.  It’s important to consider your particular circumstances before deciding what’s right for you. Although the information is from sources considered reliable, we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. You should not rely upon it and should seek qualified advice before making any investment decision. Except where liability under any statute cannot be excluded, we do not accept any liability (whether under contract, tort or otherwise) for any resulting loss or damage of the reader or any other person.  Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns.
Important
Any information provided by the author detailed above is separate and external to our business and our Licensee. Neither our business nor our Licensee takes any responsibility for any action or any service provided by the author. Any links have been provided with permission for information purposes only and will take you to external websites, which are not connected to our company in any way. Note: Our company does not endorse and is not responsible for the accuracy of the contents/information contained within the linked site(s) accessible from this page.

Should I buy insurance through my super?

While we all hope for good health, the reality is that some of us may struggle at times with sickness or injury. And that may affect your family’s financial wellbeing.

Different types of life insurance or personal insurance can provide an income when you’re unable earn, or a lump sum to protect your loved ones if the worst happens.

Insurance products such as life insurance and total and permanent disability (TPD) cover are available through your superannuation fund or directly through an insurance company. There are also other products not usually offered by super funds such as accidental death and injury insurance, and critical illness or trauma cover.

Almost 10 million Australians have at least one type of insurance (life, TPD or income protection) provided through superannuation.i

Check what your fund offers

Super funds usually provide three types of personal insurance. These include:

  • Life insurance or death cover provides a lump sum payment to your beneficiaries in the event of your death.
  • Total and Permanent Disability (TPD) pays a lump sum if you become totally and permanently disabled because of illness or injury and it prevents you from working.
  • Income Protection pays a regular income for an agreed period if you are unable to work because of illness or injury.

While these insurance products can provide valuable protection, it’s essential to be aware of circumstances where coverage might not apply. For example, super funds will cancel insurance on inactive super accounts that haven’t received contributions for at least 16 months.ii Some funds may also cancel insurance if your balance is too low, usually under $6000. Automatic insurance coverage will not be provided if you’re a new super fund member aged under 25.

Should you insure through super?

Using your super fund to buy personal insurance has advantages and disadvantages so it’s a good idea to review how they might affect you.

On the plus side

  • Cost-effective: Insurance through super can be more cost-effective because the premiums are deducted from your super balance, reducing the impact on your day-to-day cash flow.
  • Automatic inclusion: Many super funds automatically provide insurance cover without requiring medical checks or extensive paperwork.
  • Tax benefits: Some contributions made to your super for insurance purposes may be tax-deductible, providing potential tax benefits.

Think about possible downsides

  • Limited flexibility: Super funds can only offer a standard set of insurance options, which may not fully align with your needs.
  • Reduced retirement savings: Paying insurance premiums from your super balance means less money invested for your retirement, potentially impacting your final payout.
  • Coverage gaps: Depending solely on your super fund’s insurance might leave you with coverage gaps, as the default options may not cover all your unique circumstances.
  • Possible tax issues: Be aware that some lump sum payments may be taxed at the highest marginal rate if the beneficiary isn’t your dependent.

Don’t forget the life admin

Whether you decide to buy insurance through your super fund or not, it is important to regularly review your insurance coverage to make sure they reflect your current life stage and to make sure you are not paying unnecessary premiums if you have more than one super fund.

Insurance within super can be a valuable safety net, providing crucial financial support to you and your loved ones. Understanding the types of coverage offered, the pros and cons of insuring inside super and the need for regular reviews are essential steps to make the most of this benefit. If you would like to discuss your insurance options, give us a call.

i The future of insurance through superannuation, Deloitte and ASFA, 2022 1051554 Insurance through superannuation.indd
ii Treasury Laws Amendment (Protecting Your Superannuation Package) Act 2019, No. 16, 2019 Treasury Laws Amendment (Protecting Your Superannuation Package) Act 2019 (legislation.gov.au)

How to boost your super with a lump sum

If you’re lucky enough to have received a windfall, perhaps an inheritance or a retrenchment payout, your first decision will be what to do with it.

Assuming you have decided against a shopping splurge, finding the best place to invest a lump sum is all about the effect on your tax bill and how soon you will need access to the funds.

For those interested in investing their lump sum for a longer term, superannuation is one approach because of its tax benefits.

But be aware that, while super can be a tax-effective investment, there are limits on how much you can pay into your super without having to pay extra tax. These are known as contribution caps.

Different types of contributions

There are two types of super contributions you can make – concessional and non-concessional – and contribution caps apply to both.

Concessional contributions are paid into super with pre-tax money, such as the compulsory contributions made by your employer. They are taxed at a rate of 15 per cent.

Non-concessional or after-tax contributions are paid into super with income that has already been taxed. These contributions are not taxed.

So, the tax you pay depends on whether:

  • the contribution was made before or after you paid tax on it
  • you exceed the contribution caps
  • you are a high income earner (If your income and concessional contributions total more than $250,000 in a financial year, you may have to pay an extra 15 per cent tax on some or all of your super contributions.)

Investing after-tax income

There are many different types of after-tax contributions that can be made to your super including contributions your spouse may make to your fund, contributions from your after-tax income, an inheritance, a redundancy payout or the proceeds of a property sale.

Based on current rules, the annual limit for non-concessional or after-tax contributions is $110,000. You can also bring-forward two financial years’ worth of non-concessional contributions and contribute $330,000 at once but then you can’t make any further non-concessional contributions for two financial years. Note that are certain limitation on these types of contributions.

It is also useful to note that, under certain conditions, there are some types of contributions that do not count towards your cap. These include: personal injury payments, downsizer contributions from the proceeds of selling your home and the re-contribution of COVID-19 early release super amounts.

The Downsizer scheme allows the contribution of up to $300,000 from the proceeds of the sale (or part sale) from your home. You will need to be above age 55 but there is no upper age limit, the home must be in Australia, have been owned by you or your spouse for at least 10 years, the disposal must be exempt or partially exempt from capital gains tax and you have not previously used a downsizer contribution.

Giving your super a boost

A review of your super balance and some quick calculations about your projected retirement income might inspire you to give your super a boost but not everyone has access to a lump sum to invest.

A strategy that uses smaller amounts could include any amount from your take-home pay. These contributions will count towards your non-concessional or after-tax cap.

Alternatively, you add to your super from your pre-tax income using, for example, salary sacrifice. These types of concessional or pre-tax contributions attract a different contribution cap: $27,500 per year, which includes all contributions made by your employer.

If your super fund balance is less than $500,000, your limit may be higher if you did not use the full amount of your cap in earlier years. You can check your cap at ATO online services in your myGov account.

The rules for super contributions can be complex so give us a call to discuss how best to maximise your benefits while avoiding any mistakes.