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Do you have to pay tax on super death benefits?

When someone dies, their superannuation usually gets transferred to their beneficiary as superannuation death benefits. Depending on who the beneficiary is, the benefits may be taxed in some circumstances.

If you are a beneficiary, the amount of tax you pay depends on factors such as:

Someone who is tax-dependant will:

Lump sum payments

Lump sum super benefits paid to tax-dependant beneficiaries are not taxed, whereas those who are not tax-dependent will need to pay more tax and will only be able to receive the benefit as a lump sum. Not all super death benefits paid to a non-tax dependant are subject to tax. There are tax-free components that are made up of contributions after-tax that the member made to their super.

The taxed element (where the member paid tax in their super) of the taxable component of the benefit is subject to a maximum tax rate of 15% plus the Medicare levy. The untaxed element (where the death benefit is being paid from an untaxed super fund or includes proceeds from a life insurance policy held by the fund) of the taxable component of the benefit is subject to a maximum tax rate of 15% plus the Medicare levy.

Income stream payments

If the death benefit is paid in the form of an income stream, the tax treatment of the payment is dependent on the age of the deceased and beneficiary at the time.

If the deceased or the beneficiary is aged 60 or over at the time of the benefactor’s death and the super is paid from a taxed super fund, then the payment will not be taxed. If the age of the deceased and the age of the beneficiary are both under 60, the taxable portion of income stream payments will be treated as assessable income but will be entitled to a tax offset equal to 15% of the amount.

Posted on 13 February '20 by , under Tax.

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Transition to retirement

The transition to retirement (TTR) strategy allows you to access some of your super while you continue to work.

You are able to use the TTR strategy if you are aged 55 to 60. You can use it to supplement your income if you reduce your work hours or boost your super and save on tax while you keep working full time.

  • Starting a TTR pension: To start your TTR pension, transfer some of your super to an account-based pension. You have to keep some money in your super account so that you can continue to receive your employer's compulsory contributions as well as any voluntary contributions you may be making.
  • Government benefits and TTR: The benefits you or your partner receive might be impacted if you choose to opt for this strategy. How and what exactly will change might become clearer upon discussing this with a Financial Information Service (FIS) officer.
  • Life insurance and TTR: In some cases, the life insurance cover you have with your super may stop or reduce if you start a TTR pension – check this before making any decisions or changes.

TTR can help ease your mind as you transition into retirement but it can be a bit complex. Before you choose whether you want to use TTR to reduce work hours or save on tax, or even if you want to use TTR altogether, you should figure out how this will impact all aspects of your finances.

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