How the low income super tax offset (LISTO) works

If you earn less than $37,0001 in the financial year, and are eligible, the Australian Government refunds the tax you pay on any before-tax contributions made to your superannuation account – up to a maximum of $500. This is known as the low income super tax offset (LISTO), which replaced the low income super contribution (LISC) in 2017.

When before-tax contributions are made to your super account – including salary sacrificing and employer contributions – those contributions are taxed at 15%. To offset the tax deducted for your contributions the LISTO refunds it back into your account. This ensures that, as a low-income earner, you shouldn't pay more tax on your super contributions than you do on your income.

Here's how it works:

Example: Member earning less than $37,000 per annum

Before-tax super contributions  Contributions tax @ 15%  LISTO
 $6,000  $900  $500
 $5,000  $750  $500
 $4,000  $600  $500
 $3,000  $450  $450
 $2,000  $300  $300
 $1,000  $150  $150

Case studyBlonde haired women smiling at friend

Thirty-five-year-old Lisa works casually as a teacher aide, earning $36,000 a year (excluding super). Her employer contributes the 9.5% superannuation guarantee (SG) of $3,420, which attracts the 15% contributions tax of $513.

After lodging her tax return, the Government will refund $500 of the tax she paid directly to her super – helping her retirement savings grow.

Benefits of LISTO

  • Get your tax back
    If you earn less than $37,000 a year, the LISTO refunds the tax paid on your before-tax contributions, up to $500.
  • Grow your super
    If you're a low-income earner, it can be difficult to build up your retirement savings. The LISTO is a Government initiative to help you reach your goals sooner.
  • Receive your payment automatically
    You don't need to worry about applying for the LISTO. If you meet the eligibility requirements, the Government pays directly into your superannuation fund after you've lodged your tax return.

Check if you're eligible

To be eligible for the LISTO you must:

  • Have an adjusted taxable income of less than $37,000 for the financial year.
  • Have made before-tax contributions during the financial year, including any contributions from your employer.
  • Satisfy an income test in which 10% or more of your total income is derived from business or employment.
  • Be a permanent Australian or New Zealand resident.
  • Not have held a temporary resident visa during the financial year.

What else to consider

  • As the LISTO is paid directly into your superannuation fund, you need to make sure your fund has your tax file number (TFN). Without your TFN, your super fund cannot accept a LISTO payment.
  • If you've reached your ‘preservation age’ and are retired, you can apply to have your LISTO paid directly to you. Contact the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) on 13 28 65 for more information.
  • If you are considering salary sacrificing, there are limits on how much extra you can put into your superannuation fund each year. If you go above these limits you pay extra tax, so it’s worth understanding how the cap structure works.
  • As a low-income earner, you may not get any tax benefits from salary sacrificing. Consider making after-tax contributions which could make you eligible for a co-contribution from the Australian Government in addition to the LISTO payment. Find out more about the super co-contribution.

Download our Personal Contributions Guide (pdf) for more details.