Topping up your super could help you save for your first home

Did you know that you can now use your super as a tax-effective way to help save a deposit for your first home? Here’s a guide to what you need to know about the First Home Super Saver Scheme (FHSSS).

How does FHSSS work?

From 1 July 2018, eligible first home buyers can apply to withdraw voluntary contributions made to their super since 1 July 2017, plus an amount of earnings on these contributions, to help with a deposit on their first home.

Under this scheme, you can make voluntary contributions of up to $15,000 per financial year into your super account. If eligible, the maximum amount of contributions that can be withdrawn under the scheme is $30,000 for individuals or $60,000 for couples – plus an associated earnings amount that will be calculated by the ATO.

You can make voluntary contributions as either before-tax contributions – via salary sacrifice or contributions for which you claim a personal tax deduction, or as after-tax contributions. Please note the usual contribution caps still apply -  currently $25,000 for before-tax contributions, and $100,000 for after-tax contributions^, each financial year.

FAQs

Due to the favourable tax treatment generally available through super, this scheme intends to help first home buyers grow their deposit more quickly.

When the money is withdrawn, amounts that were contributed as before-tax or tax-deductible contributions will be taxed at your marginal tax rate, less a 30% tax offset, while amounts that were contributed as after-tax contributions aren’t subject to additional tax.

If eligible, any voluntary contributions you’ve made to your super since 1 July 2017, can be used to save for a home deposit. If you’re aged 18 and over and have never owned property in Australia, you may be eligible for the FHSSS. Please check with the ATO confirm your eligibility.

From 1 July 2018 you can apply to release your voluntary contributions, along with associated earnings, to help you towards buying your first home. Please note you can only apply to release one FHSSS withdrawal in your lifetime.

The Government has a Super Saver Estimator to help you estimate the potential benefits of the FHSSS.

Depending on where you’re looking to buy and what your budget is, the savings you accumulate through the scheme may not be enough for your whole deposit. But you could combine it with other savings, to help you reach your goal faster.

Plus, if you plan to purchase with your partner and they are eligible for the scheme, you could each withdraw eligible contributions up to $30,000 plus the associated investment earnings towards a deposit for your first home.

Things to consider

  • The government sets eligibility rules and conditions for the scheme. Additional rules may apply to your situation, so make sure you do your research before making any decisions.
  • To withdraw under the FHSSS, you need to apply to the ATO. You’ll only be allowed one FHSSS withdrawal in your lifetime.
  • There are super contributions which will not qualify and cannot be withdrawn under the FHSSS, such as super guarantee contributions made by your employer, as well as spouse contributions.
  • FHSSS amounts that you withdraw and do not subsequently use for a property purchase must be put back into super as after-tax contributions, or penalties will apply.
  • You must reside at the property for at least six months in the first 12-month period from when it can be occupied.

Still have questions?

The government has a First Home Super Saver Scheme fact sheet, and the ATO has full details around eligibility and withdrawal of FHSSS amounts.

How can I make contributions?

There are different ways to top-up your super. Please ensure you consider your circumstances before deciding what’s right for you.

Check out what you need to consider before making a contribution.

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What you need to know

* Compared with saving through a standard deposit account - www.homeownership.gov.au/first-home-buyer.html

^ For the 2017/2018 financial years.  If you’re under age 65, you may be eligible to bring forward up to 3 years’ worth of after-tax contributions, depending on your superannuation balance, meaning you could make after-tax contributions up to $300,000 in one financial year.

Important information

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