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The super scheme for first home buyers

The super scheme for first home buyers
10May2019

The First Home Super Saver (FHSS) Scheme is offered to help people save for their first home. This article highlights its features and explains how it works and why it may be beneficial – for some.

The super scheme for first home buyers

 
You’re moving into your new home; corks are popping and there are smiles all around – classic advertising that for many seems unattainable.
 
Although many Australians may want to bash the banks over tighter home lending criteria, it’s the bank regulator, the Australian Prudential Regulatory Authority (APRA) that has set these requirements to address the risks in the mortgage market. Low deposits were increasing the risks carried by lenders.
 
According to MoneySmart, 43% of Australians don’t save, and of the 53% who do save, only 16% are doing it comfortably. The reasons are varied, but commonly, families are over-burdened with commitments and more pressing priorities. As a result, home ownership slips further away.
 
But fear not – enter, the First Home Super Saver (FHSS) Scheme!
 
In a nutshell, the scheme allows you to save your first home deposit within your complying super fund; meaning that you can take advantage of the tax and savings benefits unique to superannuation.
 

The scheme is not available to everyone. To qualify, you must not have owned property in Australia; have never previously requested an FHSS release; and promise – on pain of Tax Office strife – not to use FHSS money to purchase a non-occupiable property, motor home, houseboat or vacant land. And not all super funds will be permitted to participate in this scheme.
 
So, let’s see how the figures stack up.
 
Say you’re putting $500 per month into a savings account earning around 2% per annum interest. You’ve paid tax on that money, at your marginal rate, so already you’re behind. And then you must pay 15% tax on the 2% earnings as well.
 
Not floating your boat?
 
Taking care not to exceed your annual contributions cap, consider contributing the same monthly $500 to an FHSS Scheme. The difference here is that pre-tax contributions to super are subject to a flat 15% tax, not your marginal rate. (The earnings are still taxed at 15%.) Those choosing to salary sacrifice their contributions can use pre-tax money.
 
To access these funds for a deposit, you must apply to the Commissioner of Taxation. You can apply for the release of eligible FHSS contributions up to $15,000 over one financial year, to a total of $30,000 over all years. You then have 12 months from the release date to purchase your first home.
 
Accumulated savings not used for your deposit will remain in your super fund, contributing to your long-term retirement plan.
 
There may be tax implications so seek professional advice before making any decisions. Our accountants here at Carbon can work alongside our financial planners to ensure a wholistic approach.
 
The FHSS scheme may not be for everyone as some people feel that tying their cash up in a super fund is too restrictive; they’d prefer to maintain access to their money. Since the scrapping of the home saver account scheme, savers looking for cash accessibility and flexibility can consider a regular savings plan or a term deposit.
 
It all comes down to what suits you and your lifestyle. Chat with your financial adviser and work out the best way to take your first step towards your first home… and that bottle of bubbly to celebrate!

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