Taxation and superannuation

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    We don't give advice about this area of law

    The following content is for general purposes only. Legal Aid Queensland does not provide legal advice in this area. For more information, please contact a lawyer.

    Income tax is money paid to the federal government from money (income) you've earned. If you have any questions about your income tax, you should contact the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

    It’s a criminal offence to give false information to the ATO. The penalties for tax offences can be very serious.

    Superannuation (super) is a form of compulsory savings for retirement. Your employer must pay money into a superannuation fund. In special circumstances, you may be able to access your superannuation early. If you have concerns about your superannuation, you may be able to make a complaint.


    Visit the ATO website for more information about:

    • income tax
    • Pay As You Go (PAYG) tax
    • Goods and Services Tax (GST)
    • tax returns.

    Penalties for tax offences may be very serious and can include an order to pay a penalty to the government, a fine or possibly prison. If you’re charged with a taxation offence, get legal advice.

    If you want to appeal a decision from the ATO you should get legal advice.


    Superannuation is a way of saving money for your retirement while you work. Your employer must pay money into a superannuation fund and you can also make voluntary contributions. For more information about your superannuation options contact your preferred superannuation fund.

    In some situations you may be able to access your superannuation early. Contact the ATO or your superannuation fund for information. You may need private legal advice.

    To make a superannuation complaint, contact your fund provider. If your issue isn’t resolved contact the:

    • Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) – for complaints about trustees (eg unreasonable delay in payment, miscalculation of benefit)
    • Australian Taxation Office for complaints about an employer who isn't paying superannuation contributions into your fund
    • Australian Prudential Regulation Authority for complaints about complying with the superannuation laws
    • Trade Unions or Wageline or Industrial Relations Commissions for complantsabout your award or agreement
    • State Ombudsman for complaints about the public sector (ie government agencies or departments)

    Do I need legal advice?

    You may need legal advice if you:

    • have a dispute about superannuation
    • are appealing an ATO decision and appearing in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal or the Federal Court
    • have been charged with a taxation offence.

    Get legal advice

    We don’t give legal advice about taxation or superannuation. We may give legal advice about being charged with a taxation offence.

    If you’re having difficulties paying your mortgage, we may be able to give you advice on how to access your superannuation early on compassionate grounds to prevent your home being sold by a creditor.

    If you need specific legal advice about superannuation or taxation you will need private legal advice. The Queensland Law Society can refer you to a specialist private lawyer for advice or representation. There are lawyers who specialise in taxation law or superannuation disputes.

    Who else can help?

    The following organisations may be able to help. They don’t give legal advice.

    Australian Financial Complaints Authority (AFCA) –  helps with complaints about trustees, unreasonable delays in payment, and miscalculated benefit.

    Australian Prudential Regulation Authority investigates breaches of the superannuation laws.

    Wageline can help with questions about awards and employment agreements.

    Industrial Relations Commission can help if you have a complaint about your award or agreement.

    Queensland Ombudsman investigates complaints about the State Public Sector (government agencies or departments).

    Australian Taxation Office (ATO) gives information about the taxation system and can explain the process for requesting an ATO decision be reviewed. They also help with complaints about employers not paying superannuation contributions into employee's funds.

    Administrative Appeals Tribunal provides an independent merits review of administrative decisions, including ATO decision reviews.

    Commonwealth Ombudsman considers and investigates complaints from people who believe they have been treated unfairly or unreasonably by a Commonwealth Government department.

    Office of the Inspector-General of Taxation - Taxation Ombudsman helps people with concerns or complaints they have about administrative actions taken by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) or the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB).

    Institute of Chartered Accountants can investigate complaints against accountants who are members. They also have a referral service to find chartered accountants with specific areas of expertise.

    Tax Practitioners Board administers the registration of tax agents and can investigate complaints about the conduct of tax agents.

    Disclaimer: This content is for general purposes only and not legal advice. If you have a legal problem, please contact us or speak to a lawyer. View our full disclaimer.

    Last updated 18 November 2022