Using super to help you buy your first home

The First Home Super Saver Scheme (FHSS scheme) is a government scheme to help first home buyers save money for a home using their super fund.

To use this scheme, you need to make additional contributions to your super account, other than any superannuation guarantee contributions your employer makes. You can do this by making personal after-tax contributions or salary sacrifice contributions.

You can then apply to release these contributions, along with any associated earnings, to help you buy your first home.

Frequently asked questions

You can start making super contributions from any age, but you can't request a release of amounts under the FHSS scheme until you are 18 years old, and you:

  • Have never owned property in Australia – this includes an investment property, vacant land, commercial property, a lease of land in Australia, or a company title interest in land in Australia (unless the ATO determines that you have suffered a financial hardship)
  • Have not previously requested the Commissioner to issue a FHSS release authority in relation to the scheme.

Eligibility is assessed on an individual basis. This means that couples, siblings or friends can each access their own eligible FHSS contributions to purchase the same property. If any of you have previously owned a home, it will not stop anyone else who is eligible from applying.

The property you purchase must be a residential premises and you have up to 12 months from the time you receive an FHSS payment from the ATO to sign a contract to purchase or construct a home. If you purchase a block of land to build your home on, you must have a contract in place to construct the home with the 12-month period.

For more information on the terms and conditions of eligibility for the FHSS scheme, please visit the ATO website.

You can make extra contributions up to the normal limits applying to super:

  • A limit of $27,500 applies for concessional contributions (and these include any contributions your employer might be paying), or those for which you’ve claimed a tax deduction; and/or
  • A limit of $110,000 applies for after-tax (non-concessional) contributions paid out of your after-tax pay or savings, for which you haven’t claimed a tax deduction.

You can learn more about the contribution caps here.

However, there are limits to how much of these voluntary contributions you can withdraw under the FHSS scheme (see below).

Any additional super contributions you make are paid into your existing Equip Super account.

They’re identified as voluntary contributions as we receive them from you or your employer.

If you change your mind about using the money for the FHSS scheme, the money is retained in your super account until you meet one of the other conditions of release that apply to your super.

Typically, this means you won’t be able to access the money again until you reach your preservation age and retire fully, so it’s important to be sure before making contributions under the FHSS scheme.

If you do not sign a contract to purchase or construct a home within 12 months from the date you requested a release:

  • The ATO will grant you an extension of time to do so for a further 12 months.
  •  You’re able to recontribute an amount into your super account via a non-concessional contribution that’s at least equal to your assessable FHSS released amount, less any tax withheld. This amount is stated in your payment summary, and may be less than the total amounts released to you, or
  • You can keep the released amount and be subject to FHSS tax. This is a flat tax equal to 20% of your assessable FHSS released amounts and not the total amount released.

You can withdraw the sum of your eligible contributions into super and their associated 'deemed' earnings, taking into account the yearly and total limits under FHSS. Those limits are:

  • $15,000 in any one financial year; 
  • $50,000 in total across all years.

See below for information on deemed earnings.

You need to request an FHSS determination from the ATO.

When you apply, the ATO will tell you what your maximum FHSS amount is. You can request a determination more than once. You can then decide to apply for a release of your amounts if you are ready to purchase your home. Note that:

  •  You can apply only once for a release; and
  •  You must confirm that, as part of your release, you will not claim further tax deductions on the non-concessional contributions included in the determination.

Once your request is approved, the ATO will issue a release authority to Equip Super and/or other super funds requesting we send your release amount to the ATO. It is at this point that the ATO will calculate and withhold the appropriate tax amount and offset the remaining amount against any Commonwealth debts, for example, unpaid taxes. After this, the ATO will release your money to you.

Receiving an FHSS payment requires you to complete additional information in your tax return. For more information, please visit the ATO website.

The ATO has set earnings on contributions withdrawn under the FHSS scheme at a 'deeming rate', which is based on the 90-day bank bill rate plus 3% (shortfall interest rate).

This the earnings amount paid on contributions irrespective of whether your earnings are negative, lower or higher than the actual earnings on your investment in the fund.

Yes, they do. And in addition, when you withdraw funds under the FHSS scheme, the ATO will withhold tax at your expected marginal tax rate including the Medicare levy, less a 30% offset, or, at 17% if they can’t estimate your expected marginal rate.

We're here to help

If you’d like more information about contributing to your super and which types of contributions might be suitable for your circumstances, our team can help.

Join our award-winning fund

Plan for your future with the industry fund that works hard for you.

Join us