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Ryan Elliot
Ryan Elliot

Financial Adviser

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Superannuation and tax: a comprehensive guide 

retirement planning

The Key Elements of Superannuation 

Superannuation, often referred to as “super,” is a retirement savings system designed to help Australians secure their financial future. It’s a crucial aspect of financial planning for those who are looking to enjoy a comfortable retirement. In this blog, we will delve into the intricacies of superannuation and its tax implications, addressing key questions and concerns.

Superannuation plays a vital role in Australia’s retirement landscape, helping individuals build a financial cushion for their later years. The tax treatment of superannuation is essential for understanding how to make the most of this retirement savings system. Let’s explore the key components of superannuation taxation and how it affects your financial future.

Is superannuation taxed? 

One of the fundamental aspects of superannuation is understanding how contributions are taxed. In Australia, there are two types of superannuation contributions – concessional and non-concessional.

Concessional contributions include employer contributions, salary sacrifice, and personal contributions for which you claim a tax deduction. These contributions are taxed at a concessional rate of 15% as they enter your super fund. This tax is generally lower than your individual tax rate. It’s important to note that there are annual contribution limits for concessional contributions, and exceeding these limits may result in additional tax liabilities.


Non-concessional contributions, on the other hand, are made from your after-tax income. They are not taxed when they enter your super fund since you have already paid income tax on this money. Like concessional contributions, there are annual limits for non-concessional contributions, and exceeding these limits may lead to additional tax.

Tax on superannuation earnings before age 60 

The earnings on your superannuation investments are subject to tax. When you are under the age of 60, these earnings are taxed at a rate of up to 15%. This tax is applied to the income generated by your superannuation investments, which can include interest, dividends, and capital gains. It’s important to keep in mind that this tax rate is typically lower than the marginal tax rate you would pay on similar income outside of superannuation.
Understanding the tax on earnings is essential for assessing the growth potential of your superannuation savings. While the tax rate may seem significant, the benefits of compound interest and investment returns within the superannuation structure can often outweigh the tax liability.

Tax on superannuation earnings after Age 60 

The earnings on your superannuation investments are subject to tax. When you are under the age of 60, these earnings are taxed at a rate of up to 15%. This tax is applied to the income generated by your superannuation investments, which can include interest, dividends, and capital gains. It’s important to keep in mind that this tax rate is typically lower than the marginal tax rate you would pay on similar income outside of superannuation.
Understanding the tax on earnings is essential for assessing the growth potential of your superannuation savings. While the tax rate may seem significant, the benefits of compound interest and investment returns within the superannuation structure can often outweigh the tax liability.

Taxation of superannuation withdrawals 

Tax on lump sum withdrawals 

When it comes time to access your superannuation savings, there are different ways to do so. You can take your super as a lump sum or as a regular pension payment. If you choose to take your super as a lump sum, the good news is that it’s typically tax-free. However, there may be some exceptions to this rule, particularly if you have super savings more than the transfer balance cap.


Understanding the tax implications of lump sum withdrawals is crucial, especially for retirees who may require a significant amount of money upfront for various purposes, such as debt repayment, investments, or even a one-time purchase.

Tax on regular pension payments 

If you opt for a regular pension payment from your superannuation fund, these payments are generally tax-free if you are over 60. This means that the income you receive from your superannuation pension is not subject to any tax. However, if you are under 60, there may be tax implications, but they are usually offset by tax credits and other mechanisms designed to reduce the tax burden on retirees.


The tax-free status of pension payments is a significant advantage for retirees who want a steady income stream in retirement without worrying about tax liabilities.

Special Considerations 

Tax on inherited superannuation 

Inherited superannuation can be subject to different tax rules. If you inherit your spouse’s superannuation, it is usually tax-free. However, if you inherit superannuation from someone other than your spouse, the tax treatment may vary depending on the circumstances and the components of the superannuation benefit. It’s crucial to seek professional advice when dealing with inherited superannuation to ensure you understand the tax implications.


Inherited superannuation is a complex area of superannuation taxation that requires careful consideration, especially when dealing with non-spousal beneficiaries or complex estate planning strategies. Seeking professional advice is essential to navigate this terrain effectively.

Strategies to minimise superannuation tax 

Salary sacrifice 

One strategy that can affect your superannuation tax is salary sacrifice. Salary sacrificing involves making additional contributions to your superannuation from your pre-tax income. By doing this, you can reduce your taxable income, potentially lowering your overall tax liability. However, it’s essential to be mindful of contribution caps and regulations to avoid any penalties or excess tax. All contributions salary sacrificed into superannuation will be taxed at 15%.


Salary sacrifice is a popular option for individuals looking to boost their superannuation savings while enjoying tax benefits. Proper planning and adherence to contribution limits are essential to maximise the benefits of this strategy.

Transition to retirement 

The transition to retirement (TTR) strategy is another valuable tool for those looking to minimise superannuation tax. TTR allows you to access your super while still working, enabling you to supplement your income. It’s a flexible approach to gradually transitioning into retirement, and it can provide tax benefits, especially for those aged 60 or over.


TTR provides individuals with flexibility and tax advantages as they approach retirement. It’s a strategy that can help individuals balance their financial needs with their desire to reduce their working hours or ease into retirement.

In conclusion, superannuation and tax are interconnected aspects of your financial journey in Australia. Understanding the taxation of superannuation contributions, investment earnings, and withdrawals is vital for planning your retirement effectively. Additionally, being aware of strategies to minimise superannuation tax can significantly impact your financial well-being in your retirement years.
If you’re seeking professional assistance to navigate the complexities of superannuation and tax, don’t hesitate to reach out to our expert advisors. We specialise in providing
tailored advice to help you make the most of your superannuation and minimise your tax liabilities while securing your financial future. Remember, making informed decisions about your superannuation is a crucial step in achieving a comfortable and worry-free retirement.


In a financial landscape as complex as Australia’s, knowledge and expert guidance are your best allies. By understanding the tax implications of superannuation and implementing effective strategies, you can enhance your financial security and enjoy the retirement you deserve. Start planning today, and secure a brighter tomorrow.

Frequently asked questions

Find the answers you need and see how we can help secure your financial future.

Yes, superannuation income can be subject to taxation. The taxation of superannuation income depends on various factors, including your age, the type of income (contributions, investment earnings, withdrawals), and your overall financial situation. Contributions to your super fund are generally taxed at a concessional rate, while investment earnings are subject to tax. However, after the age of 60, superannuation income, including investment earnings and withdrawals, is typically tax-free, depending on your financial situation and the appropriateness of the advice. 

If you have retired, you can withdraw your super without paying tax after reaching the age of 60. Otherwise at the age of 65 you can access your super, even if you’re still working. At this point, superannuation withdrawals, whether taken as a lump sum or regular pension payments, are typically tax-free. This tax-free status is one of the significant benefits of superannuation for retirees. However, specific rules and exceptions may apply, so it’s essential to seek professional advice when planning your super withdrawal strategy. 

Superannuation can be both before and after tax, depending on the type of contribution. There are two primary types of superannuation contributions: 

– Concessional Contributions: These contributions are made before tax, and they include employer contributions and salary sacrifice arrangements. Concessional contributions are taxed at a concessional rate of 15% when they enter your super fund. 

– Non-Concessional Contributions: Non-concessional contributions are made after tax from your after-tax income. You’ve already paid income tax on these contributions, and they are not taxed again when they enter your super fund. It is important to obtain a notice of intent to claim or vary a deduction for personal contributions and inform your accountant to adjust the correct payable tax on these contributions.