First home buyers
The First Home Super Saver Scheme (FHSS) enables first-home buyers to save for a deposit inside their superannuation account, attracting the tax incentives and some of the earnings benefits of superannuation.
Home savers can make voluntary concessional contributions (for example by salary sacrificing) or non-concessional contributions (voluntary after-tax contributions) of $15,000 a year within existing caps, up to a total of $30,000. Mandated employer contributions cannot be withdrawn under this scheme, it is only voluntary contributions made from 1 July 2017 that can be withdrawn.
When you die
Superannuation is not an asset of your estate so your superannuation is provided to your eligible beneficiaries – for example, your spouse (de facto) children or a financial dependant– by the fund trustee. You can also nominate the estate if you wish.
Putting in place a binding death nomination however will direct your superannuation to whoever you nominate, so long as they are an eligible beneficiary. If you have nominations in place, it is essential that you keep these current. Death benefits are normally paid as a lump sum but in some circumstances can be paid as an income stream.
Just be aware that with the $1.6 million transfer balance cap in place, if your superannuation is paid as a death benefit pension to your nominated beneficiary, this could tip them over the cap. It’s a good idea to get estate planning advice to manage it correctly.
Divorce and super
The Family Law Legislation Amendment (Superannuation) Act 2001 allows superannuation to be split during a divorce either by agreement or by court order.
Before making a superannuation agreement, the parties must receive separate and independent legal advice. The agreement must be in writing and must be endorsed by a qualified legal practitioner.
Where the superannuation is split by order of the family court, the court decides on how the fund is split.
Essentially, the amount of split super is rolled into the other party’s superannuation fund. The same rules apply to accessing superannuation. That is, it cannot be accessed until you turn 65 or reach perseveration age.
If you and your spouse have an SMSF, you need to continue to manage the fund. Relationship breakdown does not suspend your obligations as trustee.
What happens if you contributed too much?
If you contributed too much superannuation to your fund, you cannot simply withdraw the amount.
If you breached your contribution caps, you can apply to withdraw the amount above your cap from the fund. The excess amount is treated as personal assessable income and taxed at your marginal tax rate plus an excess concessional contributions charge. Withdrawal of the excess amounts should not occur until the ATO provides you with a release authority that then needs to be given to the superannuation fund.
If you did not breach your contribution limit but simply overcommitted to superannuation, you cannot simply withdraw the amount.