You might be shocked to know that the average super account balance for women when they retire is $90,000 less than the average for men, and 90% of women will retire with inadequate savings to fund a ‘comfortable’ lifestyle.1 These alarming statistics are a stark reality for many women today across Australia.
A major contributor to this issue is ‘super baby debt’, where taking time off work to have a family means women can miss out on up to $50,000 in their super2. When not at work, employer contributions may stop. Even with part-time work, employers are only obligated to contribute to super if you earn over $450 a month.
Other contributing factors to women not building a reasonable amount of retirement savings include: lack of parity in take-home pay compared with their male equivalent, running a single-parent household after divorce and inability to be the primary care-giver and work full-time.
RI Advice South East QLD is on a mission to improve the financial fate of all women by providing better access to financial education and advice.
So what can women do to close this alarming retirement savings gap?
The following are three strategies that almost every woman can use to boost their super savings.
1. If you have a spouse, consider asking them to make a ‘spouse contribution’ into your super account
If you are in a relationship and live with that person on a ‘genuine domestic basis’, and have an assessable income of less than $13,800 for the financial year, then your spouse can make a non-concessional (after-tax) contribution on your behalf and claim a maximum tax offset of up to $540 if your spouse contributes $3,000 or more into your super fund.
Please note: eligibility criteria apply. See the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) website for further details.
Note: Spouse definition: A spouse includes a person (same or different sex) who, although not legally married to you, lives with you on a genuine domestic basis as your husband or wife. It generally does not include a person to whom you are married but who lives separately and apart from you on a permanent basis.3
2. You may be eligible for a Government co-contribution
Another option to help you ‘catch-up’ on your super savings is to take advantage of the Government co-contribution scheme. You may have decided to return to work part-time after the kids were born, or alternatively return to work full-time. Either way, if you make a non-concessional (after-tax) contribution to your super fund, and earn less than $50,454 a year (for 2015/2016), the Government may make a co-contribution entitlement of up to $500 if you satisfy the requirements.
Note: Tax File Number alert: your super fund cannot accept after-tax contributions, or receive co-contributions on your behalf, if you have not provided your Tax File Number (TFN) to your super fund.
Here, we outline three simple steps to make an eligible Government co-contribution payment:
- Assuming you earn less than $50,454 (‘total annual income’) for the 2015/2016 year, simply make a non-concessional contribution (i.e. from your ‘after-tax’ bank account) to your super fund account. Contact your super fund for their EFT or BPAY® contribution details.
- Then, lodge your 2015/2016 tax return.
- Within 60 days, the Government then pays the co-contribution into your super fund.
3. Maximise concessional cap limits while you work
Regular super contributions beyond those your employer makes can rapidly increase your final retirement savings. One of the most tax-effective ways is to make contributions ‘before tax’ via your employer with a salary sacrifice arrangement. Limits apply to the total amount in before-tax dollars you may contribute to super (including your Superannuation Guarantee contributions made by your employer). Please see below for the limits that apply in this 2015/2016 financial year.
- $30,000 contribution limit applies to those aged under 50 as at the end of the financial year
- $35,000 contribution limit applies to those aged 50 or over at the end of the financial year
Need more information?
For more information on super strategies tailored for women and how to achieve greater financial security, Please contact our office today to make an appointment and if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your friends and family. You could also go to our Facebook page and tag those you feel would benefit from this editorial.
1 The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA), 2015.
2 The Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia, 2012: ‘How the ‘super baby debt’ eats away at a woman’s nest egg.
3 Source: Australian Taxation Office at ato.gov.au
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