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When can you make a contribution to your spouses super fund and claim a tax credit yourself?

If your spouse (wife, husband, de facto or same-sex partner) is a stay at home parent, is a low-income earner, or not working at the moment, chances are they’re not increasing their super and might have little or no super to fund their retirement.

The good news is if you want to help you can put money into their super, and you might be eligible for a personal tax offset while helping to create a better future.

Read in this article

When is it financially worth doing?

Eligible people can generally make after-tax contributions to their spouse’s super fund and claim an 18% tax offset on up to $3,000.

  • To be eligible for the maximum tax rebate, (which works out to be $540), your partner’s annual income needs to be $37,000 or less and you'll need to contribute a minimum of $3,000.
  • The tax offset amount reduces when your spouse's income is greater than $37,000 and completely phases out when their income reaches $40,000

Once their income reaches $40,000, you can still make contributions on their behalf, as long as you don’t require a tax deduction.

Check with us for the updated amounts as they usually change each year. The 2017/18 maximum co-contribution of $500 reduces by 3.33 cents per dollar over the total income threshold of $36,813 (income threshold in 2017/18), with no co-contribution payable once total income reaches $51,813 (income threshold in 2017/18).

What are the eligibility rules?

To be entitled to claim the spouse contribution tax offset, you must

  • both be Australian residents and either married or in a de facto relationship (this includes same-sex couples)
  • make an after-tax contribution to your spouse’s super account
  • the receiving spouse has to be under the age of 65, (or if they’re between 65 and 69 there are additional requirements)
  • the receiving spouse’s income must be $36,813 or less for you to qualify for the full tax offset, or
  • less than $51,813 (the income threshold in 2017/18) for you to receive a partial tax offset.
Who is considered a Spouse? Under Australian Superannuation law, your ‘spouse’ can be:
  • Your legally married partner with whom you live, or
  • Your de facto partner. ie: the genuine partner with whom you live, but are not married to and this includes same-sex partners.

Pro Tip: The ATO specifically states if you're legally married to someone, but you live 'separately and apart' (also known as living apart together) on a permanent basis, then that person will not be regarded as your spouse under the superannuation laws.

Update: In 2021 the ATO stated a spouse is: Your spouse includes another person (of any sex) who: you were in a relationship with that was registered under a prescribed state or territory law. although not legally married to you, lived with you on a genuine domestic basis in a relationship as a couple.

So if you're ready, get out your chequebook and follow these steps

  1. Call your spouse's super fund and ask 'if they have a special form to use when making a Spouse Contribution?'
  2. If not, download this ATO Notice of Intent to Claim form if you intend to claim a tax deduction for contributing to your spouse’s super fund
  3. Make a contribution to your Spouses super fund
  4. Send this completed Notice of Intent to Claim form to your spouse’s super fund
  5. Important: Wait to get the receipt acknowledgement back from the fund
  6. Then use this same receipt when you complete your personal tax return to get your spouse contribution tax offset

author pic drew browneDrew Browne is a specialty Financial Risk Advisor working with Small Business Owners & their Families, Dual Income Professional Couples, and diverse families. He's an award-winning writer, speaker, financial adviser and business strategy mentor. His business Sapience Financial Group is committed to using business solutions for good in the community. In 2015 he was certified as a B Corp., and in 2017 was recognised in the inaugural Australian National Businesses of Tomorrow Awards. Today he advises Small Business Owners and their families, on how to protect themselves, from their businesses.  He writes for successful Small Business Owners and Industry publications. You can read his Modern Small Business Leadership Blog here. You can connect with him on LinkedIn Any information provided is general advice only and we have not considered your personal circumstances. Before making any decision on the basis of this advice you should consider if the advice is appropriate for you based on your particular circumstance.

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