The Australia Government First Home Super Saver (FHSS) scheme – lets you withdraw some of your KiwiSaver to help buy your first Australian home.
Yes, you read right… There is quite a history with this, but once again New Zealanders moving to Australia can transfer their KiwiSaver to Australia and use some of it as a deposit for their first home. You must meet the criteria set out by the ATO and make sure you set up the right account with the right super fund provider.
In short… if you move to Australia, and transfer your KiwiSaver to either First Super or TelstraSuper, you can then withdraw $15,000 (up to $50,00) to help with the purchase of your first home in Australia.
Properties in New Zealand are not taken into consideration.
Please note, not all super providers allow you to do this, so please register with either TelstraSuper or First Super and make sure you sign up for the correct super package.
Read more below.
The ATO says ‘If you transfer an amount into an Australian super fund from a KiwiSaver scheme, the amount will be an eligible contribution (except for certain amounts)’. There is no requirement for you to be an Australian citizen, Australian resident or an Australian resident for taxation purposes for the FHSS.
Find out below what the ‘certain amounts’ are, what super fund provider you need to register with, what you need to know about the First Home Super Saver (FHSS), the KiwiSaver to super fund transfer process and how to withdraw $15,000 to use as your first home deposit in Australia (up to $50,000).
If you are moving to another country apart from Australia and want to withdraw your KiwiSaver savings because you have emigrated permanently you are able to do so. At least 12 months need to have passed since your permanent emigration from New Zealand.
You’re able to withdraw all your KiwiSaver savings, excluding any NZ Government contributions you’ve received and any funds you had transferred from an Australian-complying superannuation fund.
If your withdrawal request is approved, your Government contributions will be repaid to the Government before your KiwiSaver account is closed.
If you’re moving to Australia, unfortunately, you are unable to request an early withdrawal of your KiwiSaver savings. You can transfer your KiwiSaver savings to an Australian-complying superannuation scheme that is willing to accept the transfer and is regulated by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA). Or you can leave your KiwiSaver savings invested in your KiwiSaver Scheme account.
Read my Buying a house in Australia post and find out everything you need to know about buying your new home in Australia and some smart tips to avoid paying more than you need to in fees and charges.
Find out how to get a mortgage in Australia as a newly arrived Kiwi on an SCV in my Australian Mortgage post.
In this post you will find information on:
Yes, you can transfer your KiwiSaver to an Australia Superannuation fund and it can be used in retirement as if you earnt it in Australia. You can also use it towards the purchase of your first Australian home. Read on…
There are certain amounts you cannot use towards the FHSS scheme. You cannot use amounts transferred from a KiwiSaver scheme that are Australian-sourced amounts or return New Zealand-sourced amounts.
So if you haven’t been transferring your KiwiSaver/Super between NZ and Australia, you should be fine!
The First Home Super Saver (FHSS) scheme allows people to save money for their first home inside their super fund.
From 1 July 2017, Australians were able to make voluntary concessional (before-tax) and voluntary non-concessional (after-tax) contributions into their super fund to save for their first home.
From 1 July 2018, they could then apply to release their voluntary contributions, along with associated earnings, to help purchase their first home. They would have to meet the eligibility requirements to apply for the release of these amounts.
You can use this scheme if you are living and working in Australia, are a first home buyer and both of the following apply:
You can apply to have a maximum of $15,000 of your voluntary contributions from any one financial year included in your eligible contributions to be released under the FHSS scheme, up to a total of $50,000 contributions across all years. You will also receive a number of earnings that relate to those contributions.
There are a number of important things you need to know if you plan to use the FHSS scheme:
In Australia, only voluntary contributions (before or after tax) made by you to your super fund, or transferred KiwiSaver funds, can be used as part of the FHSS scheme.
The maximum voluntary contribution you can put towards the FHSS scheme is $15,000 in any one financial year. The total amount you are allowed to contribute is $50,000 per person.
If you are buying a house with a partner, together you can withdraw up to $100,000 before tax in voluntary contributions.
You cannot use contributions made, whether earnt in NZ or Australia:
The ATO determines what and how much of the KiwiSaver funds are eligible for release. The ATO legal database, section GN 2018/1 provides guidance on what they consider eligible contributions for release under the FHSS. In particular, the below contributions are not eligible:
The key word above to be aware of is ‘mandated’, and the ATO’s interpretation of this. KiwiSaver funds are not mandated in NZ, and NZ does not have industrial or award employment contracts, only collective or individual employment agreements. Hence, the ATO has the last call on what they determine as ‘mandated funds’.
Here is a quick overview of the contribution differences between both countries:
New Zealand KiwiSaver
|Employee Contributions via employer||Concessional/pre-tax contributions|
|These are directed straight from a person’s before-tax pay to the IRD. They can choose from either 3%, 4%, 6%, 8% or 10%. If you do not decide, your employer will default to 3%||Government-mandated contributions. Currently in FY23, 10.5% of a person’s pre-tax income.|
|Employer Contributions via employer||Non-Concessional / post-tax contributions|
|Depending on your employment contract, your employer may meet your elected contribution percentage otherwise they need to contribute at least 3% into your KiwiSaver (unless the employer is already contributing into another type of in-house/retirement scheme).||Voluntary contributions a person can choose to make into their super fund. There are limitations to how much can be contributed.|
|Voluntary Contributions||Government co-contribution & LISTO|
|Voluntary amounts a person makes directly to their KiwiSaver provider.||If you are on a lower income, the government offers incentives to contribute into your super and towards retirement in the form of a co-contribution and low-income super tax offset.|
|If a person is voluntarily contributing to KiwiSaver, the government will also contribute up to a maximum of $521.43. To get this, a person will need to contribute up to $1042.86 voluntarily each year. If this full amount isn’t contributed, the government will still contribute 50 cents for every dollar made.|
You must be 18 years old or older for the FHSS scheme, along with all the below criteria:
According to the ATO, there is no requirement for you to be an Australian citizen, Australian resident or an Australian resident for taxation purposes. If you hold a permanent resident visa or an SCV, you can use the FHSS scheme as long as you meet the eligibility requirements.
Advantages of the FHSS are:
The downside of the FHSS is:
If you are a New Zealander moving to Australia and want to use your KiwiSaver savings towards a home deposit, then the below two super providers can help you.
First Super and TelstraSuper are two of only a few Australian super funds that accept KiwiSaver Transfers.
It’s really important that you spend some time researching which super provider suits your requirements best, including reading independent reviews.
First Super has 4.1 stars from 10 Google reviews, whereas First Super has no reviews on Product Review.
TelstraSuper has no Google reviews but has 4.1 stars from 69 reviews on Product Review.
You can read more about them both below…
First Super is an industry super fund. That means they are run only to benefit their members.
Everyone at First Super wants you to enjoy your retirement, but they also want you to enjoy today. To them, being a super fund is more than just what happens when you stop working:
Of course, everyone has different needs. How you will benefit most from First Super depends on your individual circumstances.
Here is First Super’s post on KiwiSaver and First Home Super Saver (FHSS).
It’s simple, really. They’re a leading profit-to-member super fund. Everything they do is for their members – full stop. Every day, they aim to build a financially secure future for you so we can help you have a more comfortable retirement. Here are 6 ways they do this:
If you are living and working in Australia, but still have a KiwiSaver account in NZ, you may want to transfer your money to an Australian super fund that accepts KiwiSaver amounts to save on fees and taxes.
If you’re about to become a non-resident of New Zealand for tax purposes (‘officially’ moved to Australia!) or are already living in Australia, you will be taxed at a rate of 28% on the investment earnings in your KiwiSaver each year.
First, you have to set up an account with your chosen super provider:
To transfer your KiwiSaver to your super fund, you must:
You can only request a release under the FHSS scheme once. It may take between 15 and 20 business days for you to receive your money. You should consider this timing when you start your home-buying activities. You can make your release request within 14 days of signing a property contract.
You must have an FHSS determination before you sign a contract to purchase any property that results in you obtaining an interest in that property. This includes contracts to purchase vacant land. In most cases, once you sign a contract to purchase any property you are no longer eligible to request a FHSS determination. For more information refer to GN 2018/1.
To withdraw your voluntary super contributions under the FHSS scheme, you need to request an FHSS determination from the ATO:
When you apply for an FHSS determination the ATO will tell you your maximum FHSS release amount.
After you have made a valid release request, the ATO will issue a release authority to your super fund(s) requesting they send your FHSS release amounts to the ATO. Before they send the balance of the released amount to you, the ATO will:
In most cases, it will take between 15 and 25 business days for your fund (First Super) to release your money and for the ATO to pay it to you.
A payment summary will be sent to you at the end of the financial year. It will show your assessable FHSS released amount, which is comprised of:
You need to include this amount in your tax return for the financial year you request the release. The tax payable on this assessable amount will receive a 30% tax offset.
Once your savings have been released, you have up to 12 months (or other period allowed) from the date you requested the release of FHSS amounts to sign a contract to purchase or construct a home.
The contract you enter into has to be for residential premises located in Australia. It cannot be any of the following types of property:
Note: If you purchase vacant land to build a home on, it is the contract to construct your home that must be entered into to meet the FHSS scheme requirements. The contract to construct that home must be entered into within 12 months (or other period allowed) from the date you requested a release. In this situation, you must not have purchased the vacant land before applying for an FHSS determination.
You must genuinely intend to occupy the property as a home and demonstrate this by:
If you do not sign a contract to purchase or construct a home within 12 months from the date you requested a release:
If you sign a contract to purchase or construct your home you must notify the ATO within 28 days of signing the contract. If you recontribute the assessable FHSS amount (less tax withheld) into your super fund, you must notify the ATO within 12 months of the date you request the release of your FHSS money.
If you don’t notify the ATO that you have done one of the above or you choose to keep the FHSS amount, you may be subject to the FHSS tax:
For more information about the FHSS scheme refer to GN 2018/1 or First Home Super Saver – the essentials factsheet (PDF, 404KB) or read First Super’s information factsheet on FHSS.
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