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.
In order to have your voluntary contributions released under the FHSSS, you’ll need to:
You’ll need to double-check that your fund will let you withdraw your voluntary contributions under the FHSSS.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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: