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Can I transfer super to my spouse?

15 Dec 2021 5 min read

If you have a spouse, there are ways you can boost their super and potentially claim a tax deduction. The 2 primary ways to transfer super to your spouse are known as spouse contributions and contributions splitting.

This article will explain how both mechanisms work so you and your partner can build your nest egg and enjoy a secure retirement together.

Why transfer super to your spouse?

It’s common for partners to have different super balances, especially if one of you has had a career break. Women are particularly affected by career breaks as they’re more likely to take time out to raise a family or care for a loved one. Time out of the workforce means a loss of income and loss of super. Supporting your partner by boosting their super can help close their retirement savings gap.

Spouse contributions

What are spouse contributions?

A spouse contribution is an after-tax (or non-concessional) contribution you make to your partner’s super account. After making a spouse contribution, you may be eligible to claim a spouse contribution tax offset when you lodge your yearly tax return.

Can I claim a tax deduction on my spouse contribution?

If eligible, your spouse contribution tax offset enables you to claim up to 18% of the first $3,000 you contribute to your spouse’s super account (so, a maximum of $540). You can’t claim the tax offset for amounts over $3,000.

Your offset amount is determined by your spouse’s annual earnings. Below is a table that breaks down how your spouse’s yearly income influences your eligible tax offset.

Spouse’s annual income Eligible tax offset
Less than $37,000 $540
Between $37,000 and $40,000 Offset reduced by every dollar your spouse earns above $37,000
Over $40,000 $0

The ATO provides worksheets to help you calculate your tax offset for after-tax spouse contributions.

Is your partner is eligible to receive spouse contributions?

To receive spouse contributions, your partner (known as the receiving spouse) must:

  • be under 75
  • have had a total super balance (TSB)1 under $1.7 million on 30 June 2021
  • have not already exceeded their non-concessional contributions cap for that year ($110,000 for 2021–2022)
  • have met the work test or work test exemption if they are over 67.2

How do I make a spouse contribution?

Complete a Spouse contribution form

If your partner is eligible to receive a spouse contribution, simply complete a Spouse contribution form, attach a cheque and send them both to us.

Lodge your tax return

When you (as the contributing spouse) lodge your tax return, you’ll need to declare the spouse contribution you made. If eligible, a tax offset will be applied.

Download form More information

Contributions splitting

What is contributions splitting?

Contributions splitting is another way you can support your spouse’s super. To split contributions, you transfer a portion of the concessional contributions already paid to your super account to your spouse’s account.

What are concessional contributions?

Concessional contributions are before-tax contributions made to your super account and taxed at a rate of 15% instead of your marginal income tax rate. These include employer contributions, salary sacrifice contributions, or voluntary contributions that you have claimed on your tax return.

There is a limit on the amount of before-tax contributions you can make to super. For more information, see our fact sheet Opportunities and limits for super contributions.

Is your partner eligible for contributions splitting?

Your spouse is only eligible for contributions splitting if they are under their preservation age or between their preservation age and 65 and not retired. Preservation age is the minimum age you can access your super and depends on when you were born.

You can check the preservation age for you and your spouse on our website here.

Is there a limit on contributions splitting?

Split contributions are limited to the lesser of 85% of:

  • your total concessional contributions for the period, including employer, salary sacrifice and deductible personal contributions and
  • your available concessional contributions cap, including any unused contributions that have been carried forward since 1 July 2018.

If you’re requesting a split through us, your NGS account balance must be at least $10,000 after the split. For more information, see our fact sheet Split super contributions with your spouse.

How do I split contributions with my spouse?

You can only split contributions that were made to your account in the previous financial year. Once you’ve decided how much you’d like to split with your spouse (within the limit), simply complete a Contribution splitting form and send it to us. For more detail on the process, see our fact sheet Split super contributions with your spouse.

Frequently asked questions

How much superannuation can I transfer to my spouse?

With contributions splitting, the maximum amount you can transfer is the lesser of 85% of:

  • your total concessional contributions for the period, including employer, salary sacrifice and deductible personal contributions and
  • your available concessional contributions cap, including any unused contributions that have been carried forward since 1 July 2018.

With spouse contributions, you can transfer up to $3,000 and, depending on your spouse’s income, claim a tax refund of up to $540.

How is ‘spouse’ defined?

For the purpose of boosting your partner’s super through spouse contributions or splitting contributions, ‘spouse’ includes a person of any sex who:

  • you are legally married to
  • you are in a relationship with that is registered under certain state or territory laws or
  • lives with you on a genuine domestic basis in a relationship as a couple (known as a de facto spouse).

1 Your total super balance is generally the total value of your super interests in both accumulation phase and retirement phase at the end of the previous financial year, noting that:

  • for accumulation phase, this is generally the withdrawal value at 30 June
  • for the retirement phase, this is the balance of your personal transfer balance cap which is managed by the ATO.

You can view your total superannuation balance through the ATO via myGov.

2 Work test: You are required to work at least 40 hours in 30 consecutive days in the financial year that the spouse contribution is made.
Work test exemption: If your total super balance (as defined in footnote reference 1) at the previous 30 June is less than $300,000, you will be exempt from this work test for 12 months from the end of the financial year in which you last met the work test. This exemption applies only once.
As announced in the May 2021 Federal Budget, the work test is set to be removed as of 1 July 2022.

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