First Home Saver Accounts

(FHSA) are a special type of savings accounts to help first home buyers purchase their first home. The government actually makes contributions on your behalf based on how much you contribute subject to various rules. The income earned by the accounts is taxed at 15%.

Eligibility

To be eligibile to open a FHSA you must meet the following criteria:

  • you must be aged 18 to 64 years,
  • you must not have purchased or built a home in which to live,
  • you must not have or previously had a FHSA, and
  • you must provide your tax file number to the FHSA provider.

Benefits

You can contribute up to $5,000 per year.

The government contributes a further 17% of your contribution after you have lodged your annual tax return. If you contribute the maximum allowable $5,000 then the government contribution will be $850.

No minimum annual deposit is required and the account can remain open until you reach age 65.

Interest will be taxed at a flat 15%.

There is a maximum account level of $75,000.

To be able to withdraw the funds, you will need to have made contributions of at least $1,000 for four separate years. If you are purchasing a home together with your partner, only one of you needs to satisfy this requirement. The full amount of the account will automatically be withdrawn, no partial draw outs are allowed.

There are no taxes on withdrawal of the account proceeds.

If you decide not to purchase a new home then you have the option to transfer the funds to superannuation. You cannot generally withdraw the funds for personal use. Exceptions include if you satisfy superannuation release conditions such as attaining age 60 or you could transfer the funds to superannuation and then make an application under the rules that relate to severe financial hardship, compassionate grounds or terminal illness. Those rules may not allow you to access the full amount of your funds.

Government contributions are only made for tax residents of Australia. So if you go overseas to work you can still make contributions but you don’t get the government contribution.

You can only have one account at a time but you can transfer your funds from one provider to another.

You must live in the home for at least 6 months in the 12 months after purchase or completion of building.

Superannuation Ramifications

The amounts contributed from the FHSA to superannuation will count towards your superannuation non-concessional contributions cap.

You will not be eligible for the superannuation co-contribution on amounts contributed to superannuation from the FHSA (if you transfer the account to super).

If you do transfer funds from the FHSA to superannuation then those funds will be subject to normal superannuation release condidtions.

On death the FHSA proceeds go directly to your estate and are not subject to superannuation trustee rules.

In the event of divorce settlement the accounts can be split up but the funds will need to go into another FHSA or superannuation fund.

To calculate how much you could save you can use the calculator provided by the ASIC First Home Saver Account Calculator.

Summary

  • Contribute up to $5,000 pa and the government will give you 17%
  • You must contribute at least $1,000 pa for four separate years before accessing the funds
  • You must not have purchased a home before
  • Once it hits $75,000 it must be taken out or contributed to super
  • It’s to buy a home not for personal needs

Where do you get one?

Click here to compare FHSA interest rates.

APRA the regulating body have put together a full list of providers here.

Disclaimer: Always seek advice from your Financial Planner before making a decision.