KiwiSaver Questions

Differences Between KiwiSaver and Australian Superannuation

Written by National Capital
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KiwiSaver's Tax and Contributions Policies 

If you're preparing for retirement in New Zealand, it's vital to get to grips with the tax and contributions linked to KiwiSaver.

Contributions to KiwiSaver are worked out from your salary before tax. The tax is then charged on the full earnings. You can decide how much of your salary, between 3% to 10%, you'd like to put into the scheme. An exciting part of KiwiSaver is the government's top-up; they add 50 cents for every dollar you put in, contributing up to a limit of $521. 

Earnings from KiwiSaver are taxed at your Prescribed Investor Rate (PIR), which is based on your earnings from the last two tax years. This can influence your take-home salary because these contributions are taken before tax.

There are also tax breaks with KiwiSaver. For instance, the increase in the value of shares from Australia and New Zealand isn't taxed, but you'll pay tax on dividends and interest. 

If you want more details about how KiwiSaver tax works, follow this link.

You can usually start taking money out when you reach 65 or to buy a first home.

To summarise,


  • Contributions are based on pre-tax salary.
  • Contribution choice ranges from 3% to 10% of salary.
  • Government contribution feature:
    • Add 50 cents for every dollar contributed.
    • Maximum government top-up of $521.


  • Earnings are taxed at your Prescribed Investor Rate (PIR), which is based on earnings from the past two tax years.
  • Value increases on Australian and NZ shares aren't taxed.
  • Dividends and interest taxed based on PIR.


  • Typically allowed from age 65 or to buy First Home.
  • May be withdrawn in some other cases.


Australian Super's Tax and Contributions Policies 

Australia's retirement savings system, the Superannuation, has its own tax and contribution rules.

Individuals can make non-concessional contributions of up to $110,000 per year. The Australian government also chips in; they'll match your contributions after tax, adding up to $500.

Employers play a part, too. They have to put money into the Super Guarantee (SG) program every three months. This is currently set at 11% of regular earnings, but it's set to go up to 12% by 1 July 2025. There are further rules regarding overtime, backpay and a maximum contribution base that can be found here.

The tax system in Australia's Superannuation has a fixed 15% tax on contributions. Earnings on investments within your super fund are taxed at 15%. There are other rules which are in the summary below.

To summarise,


  • Individuals can make non-concessional contributions of up to $110,000 per year
  • Government co-contribution to a maximum of $500.
  • Employers' role:
    • Currently at 11% of regular earnings.
    • Expected to rise to 12% by 2025.
  • Money going into your super is generally taxed at a lower rate than your regular income.
  • Concessional contributions can be before-tax contributions and are generally taxed at 15%. This includes the super your employer pays for you, and any super you salary sacrifice.
  • Non-concessional contributions are contributions you can make from your after-tax savings.
  • Earnings on investments within your super fund are taxed at 15%
  • Consolidating your super is generally not taxed
  • The tax you pay on withdrawals from your super depends on your age and the amount withdrawn.


  1. Preservation Age: The primary condition to access your super is reaching your preservation age and retiring. The preservation age varies depending on your date of birth:

    • Born before 1 July 1960: Age 55
    • Born 1 July 1960 – 30 June 1961: Age 56
    • Born 1 July 1961 – 30 June 1962: Age 57
    • Born 1 July 1962 – 30 June 1963: Age 58
    • Born 1 July 1963 – 30 June 1964: Age 59
    • Born after 30 June 1964: Age 60
  2. Transition to Retirement: Once you reach your preservation age, you might be able to start a transition to a retirement pension while still working.

  3. Age 65: Once you turn 65, you can access your superannuation whether you decide to retire or not.

  4. Other Circumstances: There are certain special situations where you might be able to access your superannuation early.

  5. Death: If you pass away, your super will be paid out to your nominated beneficiary or your estate.

Comparing the two

Both the KiwiSaver and Australian Superannuation schemes have their advantages. Both have government and employer contributions, encouraging people to save more regularly. Australia's system has a higher minimum contribution rate, offering more room for those keen to grow their retirement savings faster.

If you're thinking about retirement in New Zealand or Australia, it's key to grasp these differences. Before moving your retirement money between the two countries, it's vital to know how each system works. Knowing how both countries' retirement plans offer tax breaks and allow contributions can help you see their pros and cons.

Lastly, if you're considering the best KiwiSaver scheme to transfer your Australian superannuation to, why not submit a National Capital HealthCheck? We can provide tailored advice to help you make the best decision.

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