What it means to 'split' your super contributions

There are ways you can add to your spouse's super to make sure you are both getting the most out of your retirement as a couple. Making contributions to your spouse's account is a great way to help if they have a low superannuation balance – either due to time out of the workforce or earning a low income.

In addition to making after-tax spouse contributions as regular or one-off payments, you may be able to transfer some of your superannuation contributions to your spouse's account. This is called superannuation or contribution splitting.

When you split super contributions, you apply to your super fund to transfer to your spouse a portion of the before-tax (concessional) contributions made to your accumulation account during the financial year.

Share the benefits

  • Grow your partner's super
    Super splitting can be an effective way of providing superannuation to a non-working or low-income spouse. In addition to growing their balance, the contributions could also pay for the cost of their insurance cover if they are taking a break from the workforce.
  • Earlier access to super benefits
    If you split your super with a spouse who is older than you, they may be able to meet a condition of release sooner, providing you with earlier access to the money.
  • Maximise your combined savings and income in retirement
    Contribution splitting to a spouse could be used as a long-term strategy to even out the super balances between partners and keep individual balances below the limits set by the Australian Government. This could help maximise the combined total of super savings that can be transferred to a tax-free environment when you retire. For example:
    • Splitting contributions to keep individual balances below $500,000 means each partner can take advantage of the carry forward rules on their before-tax contributions for up to five years – maximising the amount you can add to your super savings for a tax-effective retirement.
    • For members with superannuation balances that may exceed the transfer balance cap ($1.7 million), super splitting can keep both balances under the cap, maximising the amount you can hold tax-free in retirement.

Super splitting rules

The Australian Government has some rules in place about super splitting, including what can and can't be split.

A spouse is someone you are legally married to or in a de facto relationship with (including same sex partners). You can apply to split your contributions with your spouse at any age, but to receive the split your spouse must be:

  • Under preservation age, regardless of whether they are working, or
  • Between their preservation age and 65 years and not retired.

Only before-tax contributions (also known as concessional contributions) made to an Accumulation account can be split. These include:

  • After-tax (non-concessional) contributions
  • Money you’ve rolled over from another super fund
  • Small business capital gains tax (CGT) exempt amounts
  • Contributions subject to family law conditions
  • Long service and annual leave paid out to you when your employment is terminated
  • Contributions made to a QSuper Defined Benefit account.

You can transfer up to the lesser of:

  • 85% of the before-tax contributions made to your accumulation account in the previous financial year, or
  • The amount of your before-tax (concessional) contribution cap for the financial year.

Case study - Splitting for a balance boostMan and women smiling

Ken has a superannuation balance of $400,000. Last financial year his employer made $15,000 in Superannuation Guarantee (SG) contributions to his QSuper account. After speaking to a financial adviser, Ken decides to apply to QSuper to split the maximum amount of his before-tax contributions to his wife Barbara, who has taken time off work to care for their three children.

Ken is able to split 85% of his contributions, adding $12,750 to Barbara's retirement savings.

What else to consider

If you want to split your super contributions with your spouse, they will still be counted towards your before-tax (concessional) contribution cap.

In most cases, you can only split contributions made in the previous financial year (unless you are leaving your fund in the current financial year) and you can only split contributions once every financial year.

How to split your super contributions

Not all superannuation funds allow super splitting. At QSuper, we want to support our members to live their best life in retirement in every way we can. That’s why we offer super splitting at no additional cost.

To split your super contributions with your spouse, they must have a QSuper Accumulation account. To apply to split super contributions, download and submit the Contribution Splitting form (pdf). If your partner does not have an Accumulation account, they can easily join online.

For more information about super contribution splitting, read our factsheet (pdf) or download our Personal Contributions Guide (pdf).