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Cobbling together the necessary tens of thousands of dollars you’ll need for a first home deposit in Australia is an admittedly herculean task. In good news for financially prudent Australians, there’s a way to access the voluntarily contributed funds in your superannuation fund to use as part of a house deposit.

It’s called the First Home Super Saver Scheme (FHSSS or FHSS scheme), and while it can be a boon for prospective first homebuyers in Australia, there are a few considerations and potential drawbacks to be aware of before deciding to break open your superannuation piggy bank.

The First Home Super Saver Scheme explained

The FHSS scheme is a government program which is administered at the Federal level by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO). It was introduced in 2017 and gives Australians another way of building up a home deposit by essentially using their super accounts as deposit savings accounts.

It allows eligible first homebuyers to access the voluntary contributions they’ve made into their super account up to a limit of:

  • $15,000 in eligible contributions from any single financial year
  • $50,000 in eligible contributions across all years.

The FHSSS does not allow for the release of any portion of one’s superannuation balance which is not made up of voluntary contributions. This means that any mandatory superannuation guarantee payments made into your superannuation account by your employer will not be available for release.

Who is eligible for the FHSSS?

To request a FHSSS determination (a ruling on your eligibility for the scheme that you must receive before applying for any release of your super contributions) you’ll need to:

  • Be 18 years of age or older
  • Have not owned property in Australia before of any kind
  • Have not made a previous FHSSS release request under the FHSS scheme.

The FHSSS is also only available to those seeking to purchase residential premises; those wanting to buy an investment property will not be eligible.

The FHSSS’ financial hardship provision

Depending on your financial situation, you may be eligible for the FHSSS even if you’ve previously owned property in Australia. If you’ve lost ownership of a property due to financial hardship, you can request a FHSSS determination, but you must apply to be considered under the financial hardship provision first.

The eligibility criteria for financial hardship consideration requires evidence of a link between the loss of your property and the hardship event in question. Some examples of potential hardship events mentioned by the ATO include bankruptcy, divorce, loss of employment, natural disasters and illness, but other causes of hardship may be deemed valid.

How do I access my super savings via the FHSSS?

In order to have your voluntary contributions released under the FHSSS, you’ll need to:

1. Check with your super fund

You’ll need to double-check that your fund will let you withdraw your voluntary contributions under the FHSSS.

2. Submit a request to the ATO for a FHSSS determination

You’ll have to do this via the ATO online services section in the myGov system. When you submit your request, the ATO will tell you the maximum FHSSS release amount, and then inform you of whether you’ve been determined to be eligible for the scheme.

It’s important to note that while you can only request the release of your funds once, you can request to be deemed eligible to release your funds as many times as you like. So, if your initial request is unsuccessful, or is successful but you end up not accessing your super, you’ll be able to submit a request for another determination later on if you so choose.

If you’re determined to be eligible for the FHSSS, you’re on to the next step!

3. Submit a release request for your super savings

You’ll also do this using your myGov account via the ATO section again. Before submitting a release request, you may want to double check the details contained within the FHSSS determination you received from the ATO, as any incorrect amounts or errors listed on the determination could see the release of your funds either delayed or cancelled by the ATO.

4. Receive your released amount

If your request is approved, the ATO will request the stipulated amount from your super fund. They will send it to you minus the appropriate amount of tax and the balance of any outstanding Commonwealth debts you might have, and plus any associated earnings the contributions attracted during their time within your super fund.

After you receive your funds, you’ll typically have 12 months to find a property to purchase; however, this period can be extended if needed. It’s worth noting that your funds could take up to 25 business days to be released, so you won’t want to sign any contracts of sale or make any offers on a property until your FHSSS amount is safe and sound with you.

You’ll also receive an end-of-financial-year payment summary for your released FHSSS amount, which you will need to include on your tax return for the year. The ATO has more information on how to do this and how the amount will be treated as part of your assessable income for the year.

calculating superannuation savings home deposit

The pros and cons of using your super to buy a house

While gaining access to your voluntary super contributions can be an invaluable tool for prospective first homebuyers, there are numerous risks that can come with dramatically reducing the balance of your superannuation account. That being said, everyone’s financial circumstances and priorities are different, so we’ve laid out the major pros and cons of a superannuation home deposit to try and help you make a more informed decision on whether this is right for you.

  • If you’re a first homebuyer, it can help you buy a home sooner
  • The wealth you’re taking out of your super is being secured inside another asset
  • Your property’s value growth could outpace the returns you see in your super account
  • Drawing on your super early on in your life could affect your quality of life in retirement
  • You likely won’t be able to form a full deposit out of your super contributions, meaning you’ll generally still need a sizeable saved deposit on hand
  • Superannuation will generally be a slightly less risky place to store wealth than the property market

Frequently asked questions

Will I get taxed on the money I withdraw from my super?

Whether your super contributions are taxed upon withdrawal will generally boil down to what type of contributions you’ve made into your super. Any concessional contributions you’ve made into your super will typically be taxed upon withdrawal, as will any deemed earnings released as part of your release amount.

The ATO applies a uniform tax treatment to amounts released under the FHSSS, which is either:

  • Your marginal tax rate, including the 2% Medicare levy and minus a 30% offset
  • 17% if the ATO cannot confidently predict your expected marginal tax rate for the year

Can I use super to make up 100% of my house deposit?

While you could hypothetically put together the amount required for a house deposit using nothing except your released super amount, you may subsequently find it difficult to be approved for a home loan.

This is because lenders will look for evidence of good financial habits and an ability to consistently save money when assessing someone’s home loan application. If you don’t have evidence of what lenders call ‘genuine savings’ (i.e. a decent sum that you’ve saved up the old-fashioned way), they may not view you as a suitable lending prospect.

What are voluntary super contributions?

Voluntary super contributions are any personal contributions you’ve made to your super account beyond the mandatory super guarantee, which is taken out of your regular pay.

You could make regular voluntary super contributions in a few different ways, including:

  • As part of a salary sacrificing arrangement with your employer
  • In the form of post-tax (i.e. your take-home pay) personal contributions
  • Contributions made by your spouse into your super account (these are commonly referred to as spousal or spouse contributions)

In the market for a home loan? Compare your options first!

Regardless of whether you’ll end up using your super to buy your first home, you’ll still need a home loan. And when it comes to home loans, comparison is key!

Our home loan comparison tool helps you compare a wide range of home loans from different lenders based on rates, fees, features and more. So, what are you waiting for? We make comparing home loans simples!


  1. Australian Taxation Office. First home super saver scheme. February 2022.
  2. Australian Taxation Office. How tax applies to your super. February 2022.
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