Tax and superannuation

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Key Points

  • tax and superannuation are compulsory deductions taken from your wages
  • tax is a financial contribution paid to the government
  • superannuation is a financial contribution towards your retirement.


Tax is a financial contribution by employees to the government. This helps fund services such as health care, emergency services, welfare, education etc. 

Tax is compulsory for all employees who earn over a certain amount each financial year. In 2023 the tax-free threshold amount was $18,200.

You are responsible for:

Your employer is responsible for:

  • providing you with the tax file number declaration form to complete when you start a new job
  • taking a certain percentage of your wages and paying it to the Australian Taxation Office.

Learn more about tax at the Moneysmart website.


Superannuation is money that is taken from your wages by your employer and deposited into a superannuation fund. You can access this fund when you retire.

In certain circumstances of financial hardship or on compassionate grounds, you may be able to access it before then.

You are responsible for:

  • choosing a superannuation fund
  • communicating with your superannuation fund.

Your employer is responsible for:

  • providing you with the superannuation standard choice form to complete when you start a new job
  • taking a certain percentage of your wages and depositing into your superannuation fund.

Learn more about superannuation at the Moneysmart website.


If you are self-employed, then you will have different tax and superannuation responsibilities.

To learn more, click the below links from the ATO website:

Working as a contractor

Employee or contractor - tax and super obligations compared

Case story

Billy had finished school and was wanting to get a job. They knew that they would need a tax file number. So, Billy researched the process online, then applied for a tax file number at their local Australia Post outlet. By the time they received their first job offer, Billy already had a tax file number and was able to complete the paperwork quickly.

Story description

Real Life Story

When I was younger, I was a casual worker and had lots of different jobs. I had no real understanding of superannuation, so when I would start a new job, I would simply tick the box to say I would use my employers chosen superannuation fund. One time, I saw a TV ad encouraging people to search for their lost superannuation. I did a search and discovered that I had money sitting in six other accounts with superannuation funds!

I realised that I needed to choose a fund to put all this money and my future contributions into. So, I researched and chose a fund associated with the industry that I work in. I then applied to have all my previous money transferred into my new superannuation fund. I feel relieved to know that now all my future retirement funds are together.