Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Concessional Contribution Cap and Unisuper

Unisuper say they are concerned that the Australian government will not index the concessional superannuation limit this year. The issue is that employers in the university sector are contributing 17% of employees stated salaries to the Unisuper superannuation fund. In other words, for someone earning $A100k per year they contribute $A17k to this retirement fund in addition to the salary they pay. Somewhat similar to the "matching contribution" idea in the US, though no match is required from the employee. This is greatly in excess of the 9% which the government mandates employers to pay.

The problem for high earning employees is that the limit on pre-tax (or concessional or salary sacrifice) contributions is $A25k a year. I'm just below this threshold at the moment. Probably, when our salaries go up in July I'll be over it. Concessional super contributions are taxed at 15% rather than your usual marginal tax rate (mine is 37% + medicare). If you try to contribute too much the fund will accept the money but the government taxes it at the top tax rate - 46.5% (including medicare). So a little bit of my salary will get taxed at the top rate and then stuffed in an account I can't access for at least another 13 years...

The logical thing would be to reduce the contribution from 17% for high earners and pay that out to employees as extra salary. But that seems to be too simple for the convoluted Australian super system. Instead, Unisuper just lobbies the government to raise the cap. I guess it's not in their interest to reduce contributions and the unions who negotiated this deal (which I don't belong to) don't care that some full professors have to pay some extra tax.

It won't amount to much money for me, but it just seems silly. For those earning more than $A180k a year, the rate is no higher than their usual marginal tax rate.

1 comment:

Darren said...

"seems to be too simple for the convoluted Australian super system"... I agree, in-part, but I guess you also get what you pay for. ie low fees thru uni-super means inflexible systems (personel and technology)