Super Strategies – Sacrifice pre-tax salary into super

Contributing some of your pre-tax salary, wages or a bonus into super could help you to reduce your tax and invest more for your retirement.

How does the strategy work?
With this strategy, known as salary sacrifice, you need to arrange for your employer to contribute some of your pre‑tax salary, wages or bonus directly into your super fund. The amount you contribute will generally be taxed at the concessional rate of 15%1, not your marginal rate which could be up to 47%2. Depending on your circumstances, this strategy could reduce the tax you pay on your salary, wages or bonus by up to 32%.
Also, by paying less tax, you can make a larger after-tax investment for your retirement, as the case study on the opposite page illustrates.



What income can be salary sacrificed?

You can only sacrifice income that relates to future employment and entitlements that have not been accrued.

With salary and wages, the arrangement needs to be in place before you perform the work that entitles you to the salary or wages.

With a bonus, the arrangement needs to be made before the bonus entitlement is determined.

The arrangement, which should be documented and signed by you and your employer, should include details such as the amount to be sacrificed into super and the frequency of the contributions.



Other key considerations

  • Salary sacrifice contributions count towards the ‘concessional contribution’ cap. This cap is $27,500 in FY 2021/22, or may be higher if you didn’t contribute your full concessional contribution cap since 1 July 2018 and are eligible to make ‘catch-up’ contributions. Tax implications and penalties apply if you exceed your cap.
  • You can’t access super until you meet certain conditions.
  • Another way you may be able to grow your super tax-effectively is to make personal deductible contributions (see below).


Seek advice
A financial adviser can help you determine whether salary sacrifice suits your needs and circumstances.


1 Individuals with income above $250,000 pa will pay an additional 15% tax on personal deductible and other concessional super contributions.
2 Includes Medicare Levy.

Case study
William, aged 45, was recently promoted and has received a pay rise of $5,000, bringing his total salary to $90,000 pa.

He plans to retire in 20 years and wants to use his pay rise to boost his retirement savings.

After speaking to a financial adviser, he decides to sacrifice the extra $5,000 into super each year.

By using this strategy, he’ll save on tax and have an extra $975 in the first year to invest into super, when compared to receiving the $5,000 as after-tax salary (see Table 1).

If he continued to salary sacrifice this amount into super, this could lead to William having an additional $150,394 in his super after 20 years (see Table 2).

Table 1. After-tax income vs salary sacrifice
Table 2. Super balances4

Personal Deductible Contributions
Like salary sacrifice, making a personal super contribution and claiming a tax deduction may enable you to boost your super tax-effectively. There are, however, a range of issues you should consider before deciding to use this strategy.

Your financial adviser can help you determine whether you should consider making personal deductible contributions instead of (or in addition to) salary sacrifice. You may also want to ask your financial adviser for a copy of our super strategy card, called ‘Make tax-deductible super contributions’.

Important information and disclaimer
The information provided on this website is general in nature. We have not considered your financial circumstances, needs or objectives and you should seek the assistance of your Australian Unity Personal Financial Services (AUPFS) authorised representative before you make any decision regarding any strategy or financial products mentioned on this website. Whilst all care has been taken in the preparation of this material, no warranty is given in respect of the information provided and accordingly neither AUPFS nor its related entities, employees or agents shall be liable on any ground whatsoever with respect to decisions or actions taken as a result of you acting upon such information.

The trustee for Plus 7 Financial Management trust trading as Plus 7 Financial Management ABN 11 211 901 965 is a corporate authorised representative (no. 1007915) of Australian Unity Personal Financial Services LTD (AUPFS) ABN 26 098 725 145, an Australian Financial Service Licence Holder (AFSL No. 234459).

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