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Spouse contributions

Contributing for your spouse

If your partner is earning a low income or taking time off work for caring responsibilities, then it’s likely they’re not earning much super. This means that their super can fall behind, and it’s a big problem in Australia.

Luckily, there are ways you can help your partner’s superannuation continue to grow. You can do this by:

  • making a Spouse Contribution to their super account
  • arranging for Contribution Splitting (also known as Super Splitting)

It’s up to you to decide if contribution splitting and/or making a spouse super contribution is a good option for you, and will depend on many things, including:

  • your personal circumstances
  • your combined income
  • your plans for retirement

Therefore, it’s important to chat with your super fund or financial advisor.

How spouse contributions and superannuation splitting works

Spouse Contributions

Under the current 2017/2018 tax rules, you may be able to claim an 18% tax offset on super contributions up to $3,000 that you make on behalf of your non-working or low-income-earning partner. You can contribute more than $3,000, but you won’t receive the spouse contribution tax offset on anything above $3,000.

If your spouse receives $37,000 or less in the total of assessable income, fringe benefits and employer super contributions, then you can access the maximum tax offset of $540, provided an after-tax contribution of at least $3,000 is made. The tax offset is then progressively reduced until the tax offset reaches zero for spouses who earn $40,000 or more in the total of assessable income, fringe benefits and employer super contributions in a year.

You can’t claim this tax offset if:

  • You spouse has exceeded their non-concessional contributions cap for the financial year
  • Your spouse’s super balance is $1.6 million (for 2017/18) or more on 30 June of the previous financial year in which the contribution was made

A few things to remember:

  • You and your spouse must both be Australian residents when the contributions are made
  • You cannot make the payment for family law purposes (e.g. super splitting order from the Family Court)
  • The contribution must be paid into your spouse’s super fund or retirement savings account
  • The contributions must not be deductible to you.

Contribution Splitting

In addition to contributing to your spouse’s super, you can also choose to have some of your own super contributions put into their super account, as long as they’re under their preservation age or between their preservation age and 65 years and not retired.

Super contributions can only be split in the financial year immediately after the year in which the contributions were made or in the same financial year as the contributions were made only if your entire benefit is being withdrawn before the end of that financial year as a rollover, transfer, lump sum benefit or a combination of these. Some super funds may charge a fee to do this.

There are two types of contributions that can be split:

  • Employer contributions, which is the most common type to split and
  • After tax contributions, which is money you voluntarily deposit into your super after tax.

For more details about contributing to your partner’s super, have a chat with your super fund or financial advisor, as they’ll be able to guide you through the process.