Share the benefits through spouse contributions

If your partner either earns less than you or is not currently working, they may be adding little or nothing to their super. The good news? You may be able to take advantage of strategies to boost their retirement savings in a way that benefits you both.

If you’re married or in a de facto relationship, there are a couple of ways you can help boost your partner’s super balance; including a spouse contribution or a contribution split.

Spouse contribution

Make a contribution to your spouse's super account and you may be eligible for a tax offset.

Contribution split

Split up to 85 per cent of your eligible concessional contributions to your spouse.

Spouse contributions

If you make a contribution to your spouse’s eligible super account by the end of the financial year you could receive a tax offset of up to $540.

Who can make and receive spouse contributions?

To be eligible for the full offset amount, your partner must have income less than $37,000 in the 2018/19 financial year, and you must contribute at least $3,000. A lower tax offset may be available if you contribute less than $3,000 or your spouse earns between $37,000 and $40,000 pa.

You both need to be Australian residents at the time you make the contribution. Your spouse must be either, under the age of 65 or, if aged between 65 and 69, meet the work test requirements. This means they must have proof of working in gainful employment for 40 hours within a 30-day period during the year.

The non-concessional contributions (NCC) cap

Spouse contributions will count towards your spouse’s NCC cap, and penalties may apply if they exceed it. The annual NCC cap is $100,000 in 2018/19. The rules that relate to the NCC cap are complex. You can find out more about them at the ATO website.

It’s important to remember that the offset won’t apply if your spouse exceeds their non-concessional (after tax) contributions cap for the relevant year. It also won’t apply if your spouse has a total super balance above the general transfer balance cap. This cap for the 2018/19 financial year is $1.6 million.

Contributions splitting

Another option for boosting your spouse’s super balance is to split eligible concessional (before-tax) contributions from your account to your spouse's. These generally include the Superannuation Guarantee, salary sacrifice contributions and personal contributions for which you claim a tax deduction.

How does contribution splitting work?

If your super fund allows, you can split up to 85 per cent of the before-tax super contributions received in the previous financial year. The limit is set at 85 per cent because super funds deduct the 15 per cent contributions tax before the contribution reaches your partner’s super account.

Amounts you split to your spouse will not be treated as contributions in your spouse’s name. They will continue to count towards your concessional contributions cap, in the year you originally received them.

If you’re a member of a public sector fund different conditions may apply. It’s important to check with your fund to see whether or not you’re eligible to split contributions.

What are the benefits?

The benefits depend on your age and circumstances. They could include:

  • better managing of the tax payable if you and your spouse want to draw a superannuation pension before you’re 60, by providing access to two tax-free thresholds
  • the opportunity to take advantage of two super lump sum low-rate thresholds
  • reducing the assets assessed for the Centrelink means test if your spouse is younger than you. This could increase your Centrelink entitlement in certain circumstances.

Who can split contributions?

To be eligible for contributions splitting, your partner must be younger than their preservation age, or between their preservation age and 65 and not retired.

Preservation age is based on your date of birth.

Date of birth Preservation age

Before 1 July 1960


1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961


1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961


1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963


1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964


From 1 July 1964


Are there any costs?

Not all super funds allow contribution splitting and those that do often have different limits and conditions. A contribution splitting fee may apply.

Have confidence in your future with help from a financial adviser.

Important information

This information is provided by National Australia Bank Limited ABN 12 004 044 937 AFSL No. 230686 (NAB), a member of the National Australia Bank Group of companies. Any advice is general in nature and has been prepared without taking into account your personal objectives, financial situation or needs and because of that you should, before acting on the advice, consider the appropriateness of the advice having regard to those matters. See the NAB Financial Services Guide for details about relationships between NAB and product issuers, and remuneration or benefits that may be received in relation to NAB’s authorised services.