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Superannuation - what is it?

Super is an excellent way to save money for your retirement because of the tax concessions and other government benefits.

Did you know  - Super funds may also offer additional benefits, such as life insurance cover, total and permanent disability insurance and income protection insurance (if you become disabled or sick for an extended period of time).

By saving small amounts of money now, you can make sure you have enough to live on when your older.

Who has to pay superannuation?
Generally, if you have a job, your employer has to put money in to a superannuation account for you under the superannuation guarantee. This money should come from your employer directly, not from your pay packet. However, if you want to put extra money in to your superannuation yourself, you can.

The money put in to your superannuation account gets invested by the fund on your behalf, and is yours to use when you retire.

Does everyone get superannuation from their employer?
The superannuation guarantee covers full-time, part-time and casual employees.

Generally, it means that if you are aged 18 or older and get paid $450 or more in a month, your employer must pay superannuation into a superannuation account for you. If you work for not more than 30 hours a week, and you are either under 18 years of age or the work is wholly or principally of a domestic or private nature, your employer is not required to pay superannuation for you.

If you are paid under an award, it may be part of the award agreement that your employer pays superannuation for you, even if you earn less than $450 a month.

If you are not an Australian resident or are working outside of Australia for an overseas employer, there are some uncommon situations where your employer might not pay superannuation for you. For more information, call the ATO information line on
13 10 20 .

How much superannuation must my employer pay?
Your employer generally must contribute an amount equal to 9.50% of your wage to your superannuation fund. This should be in addition to the money you get paid. Employers must make this payment to your superannuation account quarterly – those that don't can be penalised.

How do I contribute to my superannuation?
Ask your employer or superannuation fund for information on how to make extra payments to your superannuation. If you make extra payments, you may be eligible for the Superannuation co-contribution, where the Australian Government will also contribute to your superannuation.

For more information, phone the ATO information line on 13 10 20 or visit www.ato.gov.au