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Superannuation Guarantee

$450 Super Guarantee Threshold Scrapped!

As part of the Government’s Treasury Laws Amendment Bill 2021 which passed on 12th February 2022, it has been decided that the $450 superannuation guarantee threshold will be removed. This will begin on July 1, 2022. 

The scrapping of the threshold will make about 300,000 more workers eligible for super contributions, including many low-income employees in part-time and casual positions. This will ensure all workers can build their retirement savings, not just those in higher-paid, full-time positions.

Currently, employees must gross a minimum of $450 per month with one employer in order to be paid super on top of those wages (note, this can be $350 per month for those working in the hospitality industry e.g. award MA000009 Hospitality Industry). Those who work casually or part-time may find that they never quite reach that threshold even if they hold several jobs at once. For example, an employee who has 3 casual jobs, earning $300 per job per month, will not receive super on any of those wages due to the $450 threshold. This hardly seems fair and is the main driver for the removal of the threshold.

So, from July 1, 2022, if you employ staff, you will need to pay super contributions on all their earnings, no matter how little each month. For example, if your employee grosses $100 for the month, then super of $10 (currently paid at 10%) will accrue and be paid to the employee’s super fund.

While the move to remove the super threshold is pleasing in my opinion, it is worth noting that employers’ payroll budgets will increase as a result. The cost to employ staff is currently very high and this change will only serve to make it higher! Add in the next super guarantee increase to 10.5%, also from 1 July 2022, and I think we shall see some employers squirming!

While your payroll software will more than likely be upgraded to take up the removal of the super threshold, it is worth noting the start date to ensure you can check your payroll setup is correct when the time comes.

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Super Guarantee to increase to 10%

The minimum super guarantee (SG) percentage employers are required to pay, is set to increase to 10% on 1st July 2021. This should be considered in part, as a wage increase, and therefore an increase to the overall payroll budget.

There is a further sting in the tail to come for employers! The proportion of wages that must be contributed to employees’ superannuation, is legislated to increase half a percent a year, before reaching a final value of 12% by the 2025/26 FY. See the table below which outlines the rate increase schedule.

1 July 2002 – 30 June 201390
1 July 2013 – 30 June 20149.250
1 July 2014 – 30 June 20159.50
1 July 2015 – 30 June 20169.50
1 July 2016 – 30 June 20179.51
1 July 2017 – 30 June 20189.52
1 July 2018 – 30 June 20199.53
1 July 2019 – 30 June 20209.54
1 July 2020 – 30 June 20219.55
1 July 2021 – 30 June 2022106
1 July 2022 – 30 June 202310.57
1 July 2023 – 30 June 2024118
1 July 2024 – 30 June 202511.59
1 July 2025 – 30 June 20261210
1 July 2026 – 30 June 20271211
1 July 2027 – 30 June 2028 and onwards1212

What This Means for Your Small Business

  1. Your payroll budget will increase by 0.5%, per employee, every year until the 2025/26 FY.
  2. An employee on a minimum award wage cannot be paid less than the minimum rate already being paid, therefore the SG at 10% is to be calculated on top of, and without reduction to, the original base amount.
  3. Another factor to consider is if the employment agreement or other industrial relations instrument permits it, the components of an employee’s salary package can be altered to increase the SG to 10% and reduce the gross pay (before tax). This means that your employee’s take-home pay will be less than it is now and will continue to decrease each year until 2025. If this scenario affects you and your employees, we recommend that you review the appropriate agreements and seek HR advice before 1 July 2021.
  4. If you use an accounting software package, you won’t need to make any adjustments for the SG increase in your payroll – the developers will do that for you. If you process payroll manually, however, you will need to remember to change the percentage from 9.5 to 10 (and again by 0.5 % each year until you reach 12 % in 2025). Remember, if you don’t pay the correct rate of SG into your employees’ super accounts by the quarterly due date, you will have to pay the Superannuation Guarantee Charge (SGC).
  5. With regards to “when” the rate rise should be applied to your payroll, the rule is that it is applicable to any payments made on or after 1 July 2021 – this is regardless of the period in which the services were performed by the employee.

Managing your Payroll Budget & Cash Flow

Every employer’s obligation to pay superannuation will increase as of 1st July 2021 – there is no escaping this change. This is an increased cost to your business that must be considered for cash flow and budgeting purposes.

With the increases to compulsory super contributions coming out of the same business budget as wages, and all other on-costs such as workers compensation, payroll tax, PAYG, and superannuation, you need to be prepared. All future SG increases need to be built into a business budget and cash flow forecast to be considered part of wage increases over time. We recommend that you assess the total employment costs of your business and add a percentage on top of the total costs to cover not just the rise in superannuation, but also any miscellaneous expenses and unforeseen blow-outs. The best practice is that it is better to overestimate than underestimate. Accurate and up-to-date financial records will help a business manage cash flow.

By regularly reviewing your budget and cash flow forecast, you, your bookkeeper, and your Tax Agent can address financial problems immediately. By doing this, you will be empowered to make important and necessary decisions for your business when they are required.

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Superannuation Services Extended

A new legislative instrument has been released which has extended the services BAS Agents can provide to clients in relation to the super guarantee charge (SGC). BAS Agents have been able to assist clients with superannuation tasks for approximately 2 years now, but this instrument allows them to do more and be of greater benefit to clients.

BAS Agents can currently offer superannuation services to clients like processing, advising upon and lodging monthly/quarterly superannuation guarantee data. The Tax Agent Services (Specified BAS Services Services No. 2) Instrument 2020, as it is known, will allow BAS Agents to expand upon these services to include the following tasks in relation to SGC:

  • Act as an authorised contact on behalf of clients with the ATO in relation to SGC accounts, payment arrangements, penalty remissions, super audit and/or review activity;
  • Advising clients when the superannuation guarantee (SGC) charge applies and why;
  • Advising clients about offsetting late payments of superannuation contributions against the SGC;
  • Completing the late payment offset election section of the SGC statement;
  • Acting on behalf of clients in relation to lodging the SGC statement.

The instrument will also allow BAS Agents to view and access superannuation guarantee and SGC accounts in online services.

If you are a BAS Agent and would like to read the detail of the new instrument, here is the link to the Explanatory Statement.

The new legislation means that we can now assist clients with superannuation services on a much higher level and therefore provide more value than before. We have added these new services to our services page where you can also view other services we provide.

If you would like to find out more about the superannuation guarantee charge, go to this ATO webpage.

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Super Amnesty – Yes? No? Maybe!

Back in May 2018, the first iteration of a law for an amnesty on unpaid historical superannuation was announced, but due to the calling of the Federal election at the time, it did not pass. A second iteration of the law, known as the “Recovering Unpaid Superannuation” Bill, was launched in September 2019. This second attempt was given the green light by the Senate Economics Legislation Committee in November 2019. The Bill is yet to receive royal assent, but if achieved, will mean that many employers will be given the chance to self-report their non-compliance and avoid the usual penalties as a reward.

What does the new Bill include?

The second iteration of the Bill to recover unpaid super includes the following:

  • The period of historical reporting is from 1 July 1992 to 31 March 2018.
  • The amnesty period will be for 6 months from the date of royal assent.
  • Employers must self-report to be eligible to partake in the amnesty.
  • Payments of super made during the amnesty will be tax deductible (note, usually late super payments are not tax deductible).
  • Administration fees associated with reporting later super to the ATO will be waived.
  • Interest charges will still apply.

But will it pass?

While the recent thumbs up by the Senate Committee is a step closer to the Bill being passed, there is still a way to go mainly because Labor Senators don’t agree with the Bill. They cite that this will give non-compliant employers an unfair advantage over employers who are doing the right thing. They don’t agree that the payments should be tax deductible or that fees be waived as this sends the message that being non-compliant is “okay” and will be forgiven, even rewarded. Further to this, those employers who usually pay on time but who may err occasionally, will still be subject to all super guarantee penalties and will not enjoy any tax deductions given the amnesty does not apply to any pay period post 1 January 2018. Labor do not support the Bill due to it giving rise to this unfair playing field. They believe the Bill rewards those employers who have been non-compliant for breaking the law.

We aren’t sure what will happen, but given Parliament will not sit now until February next year (2020), nothing will go ahead until then. If the Bill is passed, we will be sure to let you know and also how we can assist you if you are an employer who would like to take advantage of the amnesty. Please note, we certainly won’t cast any judgement on you if you are in this predicament and you come to us for help. While Labor has a point, we are in favour of any vehicle that will put money that is owed to employees back in their pockets – after all, it is their money! Watch this space – we’ll update this blog if/when the Bill is passed.

Update! SG Amnesty Bill passes Parliament so it is definitely a YES!

As of 24th February 2020, the “Recovering Unpaid Superannuation” Bill 2019 has been passed in both houses and is awaiting royal assent. At that point, the amnesty period will start from 24th May 2018 and end six months from the date royal assent is received. Employers will be able to self-disclose non-paid historical superannuation for past and present employees. It is noted that if employers do not voluntarily disclose their historical SGC debt during the amnesty, they will face significantly higher penalties if the ATO conducts an audit. So, if you are an employer in this situation, you are best to contact your tax adviser ASAP and make arrangements to take advantage of this amnesty because it’s a once-only offer from the ATO – I doubt we’ll ever see it again.

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20 jobs your BAS Agent can do for you!

BAS Agents are now a very important part of the tax compliance landscape. They have been floating around since 2010 when the first group of agents became registered with the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) after the passing down of TASA 2009. TASA 2009 is legislation that makes it illegal for anyone to charge a fee for providing tax and BAS Services without first being registered. Unfortunately, who BAS Agents are and what they do, has not been widely publicised by the TPB and as a result, many business owners have either never heard of them or certainly aren’t aware of what they do. Today’s blog, therefore, is about educating business owners about what BAS Agents can do for them in terms of their tax compliance and other related tasks. To this end, I have created a list of 20 tasks BAS Agents can do for business owners, of which perhaps they may not be aware. See below:

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Super Guarantee Rising to 12%

Superannuation contributions that you currently pay on behalf of your employees are set to rise gradually from the current 9.5% to 12% by 2025.

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Pay Super Guarantee via the ATO Clearing House

From 1st July 2010, if you have 20 employees or less, you can access the Federal Government’s Clearing House for superannuation guarantee payments. This makes paying super so easy.

(NOTE: As of 1st April 2014, the Australian Taxation Office will run the clearinghouse. Read more about this in this blog).

The Clearing House is the result of a 2007 Federal Election promise. Currently, employees can nominate which super fund they wish you to pay into on their behalf. This may mean that you have to pay into several funds each month which can be time-consuming and costly if you outsource your payroll. The Clearing House relieves you of this burden and allows you to pay your employees’ super into one location – the ATO clearinghouse. Payment of your employees’ super contributions with the ATO immediately relieves you of your legal liability for payment of such super. The use of this facility is free of charge and you can register for this service with the ATO on their website now.

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