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Super for self-employed people

Updated on 8 January 2023

6 min read

If you work for yourself, you may be wondering if you have to pay super or not. And if so, how much you should pay. Learn more about making super contributions as a sole trader or self-employed person.

Man working on table

Do self-employed people have to pay super?

The short answer is – it depends on how your business is set up.

If you're self-employed as a sole trader or in a partnership, it's your choice whether you'd like to make payments to your super.

If you're contracted as a sole trader from a business under a pay as you go (PAYG) scheme or you pay yourself a salary as an employee of your business, then you may be required to pay yourself super by law.

You can work out if you have to pay super or not by using this guide from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

Paying yourself super as a self-employed person

Just because you don't have to make compulsory super contributions as a sole trader, doesn't mean you can't set yourself up for life after work.

You can choose to make personal super contributions to your super fund directly from your bank account as often as you'd like. And you may even be able to claim a tax deduction.

Use our Superannuation Contributions Calculator to see the difference making payments to your super fund now could have on your retirement.

Superannuation Contributions Calculator

Some of the benefits of paying yourself super as a sole trader:

  • While it might seem like ages away, paying yourself super now can make a big difference to your financial future when you retire.
  • If you make after-tax contributions, depending on how much you earn, you may benefit from claiming a tax deduction.
  • Investment returns through your super fund are generally better than bank savings accounts and term deposits, so your money will grow over time.
  • You might have access to insurance cover (such as death, total & permanent disability, and income protection cover) through your super fund, to protect you and your loved ones if life doesn't go to plan.
  • If you're a low income earner, you may be able to get a bonus from the government.

Things to consider before making a self-employed super contribution:

  • Although you're setting up your future self by paying super now, you generally won't be able to access the money until you reach the age you can access your super and retire.
  • You need to provide your super fund with your tax file number (TFN) before you can make a personal super contribution.
  • There's a limit to how much money you can pay into your super after-tax each year (called the non-concessional contributions cap). It's currently set at $120,000 for 2024–25.
  • If your total super balance is $1.9 million or more at 30 June 2024, you can't make after-tax super contributions in the financial year.

Choosing a super fund

Most people, including sole traders, can choose which super fund they'd like to join. Your superannuation is designed to grow with you for your future, so it's important to choose a super fund that helps you achieve your goals.

There are many reasons to join ART, including:

  • Strong long-term investment returns2

  • Award-winning products and services

  • Focused on lower fees.

See how we compare

FAQs for sole traders and super

Sole traders are not entitled to receive superannuation guarantee (SG) payments, but there may be some circumstances where they're required to make super contributions. For example, if you're contracted as a sole trader from a business under a pay as you go (PAYG) scheme or you pay yourself a salary as an employee of your business.

If you contribute to your super with after-tax money (also known as a voluntary contribution), you may be eligible to claim a tax deduction.

If you decide to make sole trader super contributions to yourself, you can do so by making a personal contribution from your bank account directly to your super fund. There are a few other ways you can contribute to help grow your super.

As a guide, employers contribute at least 11.5% of an employee's ordinary time earnings to super. So as your own boss, you may want to consider contributing a similar amount.

Keep in mind there are limits to how much you can contribute each financial year.

It depends on how you're employed as a sole trader. You can use this guide from the ATO to work out if you have to make super contributions or if it's up to you.

Need more information?

  • Calculate your super contributions

    Use our calculator to see the difference contributing to your super now could make to your retirement savings.

    Superannuation Contributions Calculator
  • We're here to help

    We can help you get the future you want by making the right choices today.

    Contact us
  • Ways to grow your super

    Learn about the different ways you can add money to your super as a self-employed person.

    Types of super contributions

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How to grow your super balance

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Understanding fees and costs

Did you know the less you pay in fees on your super account, the more money you could have in retirement? Understand what you can expect to pay.

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1. Employees in the Australian Retirement Trust group give advice to members and employers as representatives of Sunsuper Financial Services Pty Ltd (ABN 50 087 154 818 AFSL No. 227867) (SFS), that is wholly owned by the Trustee as an asset of Australia Retirement Trust. SFS is a separate legal entity responsible for the financial services it provides. Eligibility conditions apply. Refer to the Financial Services Guide (pdf) at australianretirementtrust.com.au/fsg for more information.

2. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Ratings and awards are only one factor to be taken into account when deciding to invest. Consider the Super Savings product disclosure statements (PDSs) and target market determinations (TMDs) before deciding.