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Research recommends ceasing super tax concessions

By Keeli Cambourne
June 13 2024
1 minute read
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New research has recommended that superannuation tax concessions should be ended or at least limited.

The Australia Institute said superannuation tax concessions benefit only the top 10 per cent of earners and those whose super balances do not meet the asset criteria for the part pension.

It found that women and low-income earners are being left behind by a superannuation tax concession system that disproportionately benefits high-income earners and men and exacerbates income and gender inequality which comes at a cost in foregone revenue.


The research revealed that super tax concessions cost $54.56 billion in foregone revenue during 2022–23, and disproportionately benefit the wealthy. It also found that the top 20 per cent of income earners receive more than 50 per cent of superannuation tax concessions.

It continued that the share of Australian workers with a super fund above $1 million is just 2.5 per cent, but those people made 20.1 per cent of all personal super contributions in 2020–21.

Furthermore, it stated that removing the tax concession for both super contributions and earnings from the top 10 per cent of earners would save more than $12 billion every year.

Statistics show that women retire with a super savings gap of nearly 25 per cent compared with their male counterparts and according to this latest research Australia still experiences above-average rates of poverty in retirement (6th highest rate of retiree poverty in the OECD).

Finally, the report stated that superannuation tax concessions are forecast to overtake the cost of the age pension in 2045–46.

Dr Minh Ngoc Le, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Australia Institute, said while super tax concessions are designed to help all Australian workers save for retirement, the distribution of these benefits is incredibly unequal.

“Treasury estimates show that, dollar for dollar, high income earners actually receive more government support than those on middle and low incomes because of our current superannuation system,” he said.

“Continuing to provide tax concessions for the wealthiest Australians will soon cost the taxpayer more than the age pension, a complete reversal of what superannuation is designed to do.

“It’s clear superannuation tax concessions are no longer fit for purpose, and forgone revenue from super concessions for Australia’s wealthiest individuals could instead be used to support retired Australians living in poverty.”

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