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As a stay at home mum, I think there are two aspects of super I specifically need to be aware of: Spouse contributions and the Government Co-contribution

A lot of us mums at home with the kids will have superannuation funds from previous jobs. If we are not working, nothing is being added to these investments as there is no employer contribution. (apart from, hopefully, earnings!)

However, it is possible for your husband or partner to make a contribution to your super fund as a 'spouse' payment.

Why make a Spouse Contribution to Super?

If you continue to build your spouse's superannuation fund as well as the main income earner's, this will ensure that your retirement income is from two sources. This may be beneficial from a tax perspective. You

If you choose not to take an income from your super fund, but instead withdraw the benefits as a lump sum in retirement, you will be able to access two tax-free thresholds, which in effect allows you access to a larger tax free super lump sum

Spouse contributions can be a tax effective way to add money to super, which is already tax favoured.


Superannuation spouse contribution tax offset

The main income earner may be eligible for a tax offset if contributions are made on behalf of their spouse to a complying super fund, or retirement savings account (RSA).

This tax offset applies to contributions made on behalf of non-working or low income-earning spouses, whether married or de facto.

The main income earner maybe able to claim an 18% tax offset on super contributions of up to $3,000 made on behalf of the non-working or low income-earning spouse.


At the time of writing, the main income earner may be entitled to a tax offset of up to $540 (maximum) each financial year if:

  • they did not claim a tax deduction for the contributions
  • both you and your spouse were Australian residents when the contributions were made
  • at the time of making the contributions you and your spouse were living together, and
  • the sum of your (the spouse's) assessable income and total reportable fringe benefits amounts for the financial year was less than $13,800, and
  • the contribution was made to a super fund, which is a complying fund for the income year in which you make the contribution.

Please see the Australian Tax Office for all the details on Spouse Payments.

Government Co-Contribution

The Government aims to encourage lower income earners to contribute to their super, by providing a Government Co-contribution.

If you earn $28,980 or less per year, you can receive $1.50 for every $1 you contribute to your super, up to the maximum super co-contribution, which is $1,500 per year.

(figures are correct for August 2008. For the latest information, please see the Australian Tax Office web site: Super co-contribution)

For those earning between $28,980 and $58,980, the amount of super co-contribution paid for each dollar of personal super contribution reduces on a sliding scale.

So, even if you earn a minimum income for the year, if you have savings from your partner's income, you can contribute $1000 to your super fund and receive an additional $1,500 from the Government.

There is no application process for the super co-contribution. It is paid automatically to eligible people who make a personal contribution to their super. To ensure you receive any super co-contribution you are eligible for, your fund must have your tax file number and your personal super contribution must be with your fund before 30 June. The super co-contribution will be paid into your super fund after you have lodged your income tax return.

In order to be eligible for the Government Co-contribution, you must have some earnings for the year. This can be minimal, but 10% or more of your income must come from eligible employment or your own business.

For example, I could earn just $100 this year, doing relief work form Family Day Care. As long as my total income (i.e. any investment income plus my earnings) is $1000 or less, I am eligible for the super co-contribution. My partner and I therefore need to decide whether we think it is a sensible investment for us to put up to $1000 of our savings into my super.

Please note, you should always seek independent advice before making any investment decisions.

More Practical Help:

Budget Options

Are you spending too much money? Do you want to cut back but you're not sure where. This section includes some suggestions to keep the budget on track. (more)


You probably have home or contents insurance or car insurance, but what about Life Insurance or Income Protection Insurance? If you're an at home mum or working part time, there is probably one main income earner. If anything happened to them, how would you survive financially? (more)

Making a Will

Everyone over the age of 18 should have a will, but now that you have children it is even more important. You want to be able to say what happens to them if you are not around, and to make sure they are cared for emotionally and financially. (more)

Saving for your Child's Education

The cost of education is going to be one of the main expenses going forward. In order to reduce the burden of education costs, you can look at the options for starting to save right now. (more)


Government Benefits

Are you aware of the Government benefits for families and what your entitlements are now you have children, even if your partner earns a decent income? (more)



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