If you want to ensure you’re getting the right amount of super and not paying more in tax than you have to, this list is for you.

You’re probably yet to hear anyone say they get a thrill from filling out forms or that they love reading long documents full of financial mumbo jumbo, but there’s likely to be a bit of that when you land your first full-time job.

To get you up to speed with some of the important money-related stuff, here are some important tips, which, good news - we’re going to give you in plain English.

What you need to know

Your bank account details and tax file number

You’ll need to give your bank account details to your employer if you want to get paid, so this’ll no doubt be high on your list of things to do.

On top of that, you’ll need to provide your tax file number, because if you don’t, you may end up paying a lot more tax on the income you earn.

If you need a tax file number, you can apply for one through the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) 

What super fund you'd like to choose

Super is money set aside during your working life to support you in retirement. Further down, we’ll explain how to make sure you’re getting the right amount.

Meanwhile, you’ll typically have a choice between your employer’s fund or a fund you select yourself.

There are a number of things you’ll want to consider too, such as what fees you might pay, how the fund performs and your investment preferences, which could see you earn more or less money.

In addition, super funds generally offer a few types of insurance cover, which you could pay for using your super money, so it’s worth looking into whether this is something you want now or possibly down the track.

What tax you’re going to pay on the income you earn

You mightn’t be pleased, but you’ll have to pay income tax on every dollar over $18,200 you earn. On top of that, many taxpayers are also charged a Medicare levy of 2%.

As for how much tax you’ll pay, this will depend on how much you earn. The below table includes income tax rates for the 2020/21 financial year1.

Taxable income Tax they’ll pay on this income
0 – $18,200 No tax
$18,201 – $45,000 19c for each $1 over $18,200
$45,001 – $120,000 $5,092 plus 32.5c for each $1 over $45,000
$120,001 – $180,000 $29,467 plus 37c for each $1 over $120,000
$180,001 and over $51,667 plus 45c for each $1 over $180,000

If you’re lucky enough to receive an annual bonus (sorry to break it to you), you’ll also pay tax on this. 

What tax you can claim back when tax time rolls around

If you spend some of your own money on work-related expenses (uniforms, safety equipment, or education) there is some good news. At the end of the financial year, you may be able to claim some of this money back when you do your tax return (which yes, you have to do). 

You’ll need to have a record of these expenses, such as receipts, but in some instances if the total amount you’re claiming is $300 or less, you may not need receipts.

Meanwhile, if your expenses are for both work and personal use, you’ll only be able to claim a deduction for the work-related portion. Check out the myDeductions tool in the ATO app to save records throughout the year, so you don’t have a bag full of receipts to go through.

Also note, if you’re lodging your own tax return, you have until 31 October each year to lodge it, or maybe longer if you use a tax agent.

What’s in your contract and what you’re entitled to

An employment contract is an agreement between you and your employer that sets out the terms and conditions of your employment. It’s a good idea to know what’s in your contract should questions ever arise around what you’re actually entitled to.

Regardless of whether you sign something or not, your contract cannot provide for less than the legal minimum, set out in Australia’s National Employment Standards, which cover things such as2:

  • Maximum weekly hours of work
  • Requests for flexible working arrangements
  • Parental leave and related entitlements
  • Annual leave
  • Personal/carer’s leave and compassionate leave
  • Community service leave
  • Long service leave
  • Public holidays
  • Notice of termination and redundancy pay.

While National Employment Standards apply to all employees covered by the national workplace relations system, only certain entitlements will apply to casual employees. For more information, check out the Australian Government Fair Work Ombudsman website.

How to read your payslip so you’re across potential errors

Payslips have to cover details of your pay for each pay period. Below is a list of what a pay slip typically includes:

  • Your before-tax pay (also known as gross pay)
  • Your after-tax or take-home pay (also known as net pay)
  • What amount of money you’ve paid in tax this financial year
  • The amount of super your employer has put into your super fund
  • HELP/HECS debt repayments (if you have an education loan).

Meanwhile, mistakes can happen, so if anything doesn’t look right, chat to your employer first and if you’ve raised an issue you’re not satisfied with, you can also contact the Fair Work Ombudsman.

How much super is coming out of your pay package and if it’s correct

If you’re earning over $450 (before tax) a month, no less than 9.5% of your before-tax salary should generally be going into your super under the Superannuation Guarantee scheme. This is set to increase to 10% from 1 July 2021.

If you’re under 18, you’ll have to be working a minimum of 30 hours per week to qualify, and special rules may apply for certain job types and contractors. For this reason, it’s important you check your payslip and if something doesn’t look right, speak to your boss as soon as possible, or contact the ATO.

Another thing to note is if you do change jobs and don’t opt to stick with the same super fund, super accounts can multiply. It might not sound like a big deal, but multiple accounts can often mean multiple sets of fees, which means less money in your pocket, so you may want to make sure you only have one account, not many.

How to budget and save so you can get what you want in life

Budgeting may sound boring, but jotting down what money is coming in, what cash is required for the mandatory stuff and how much cash might be left over for your social life (or saving), could make a massive difference to what you do in life.

If you’re paying off debts, or on a more exciting note, want to buy a car or go on a holiday, getting a grip on your cash habits early on could see you have a lot more fun!

Looking for further tips?

The following articles may be of interest and in the meantime, all the best with your new role.


1 Australian Taxation Office - Individual income tax rates
2 Australian Government Fair Work Ombudsman – Introduction to the National Employment Standards

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What you need to know

Any advice and information is provided by AWM Services Pty Ltd ABN 15 139 353 496, AFSL No. 366121 (AWM Services) and is general in nature. It
hasn’t taken your financial or personal circumstances into account. Taxation issues are complex. You should seek professional advice before deciding to act on any information in this article.

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