Tax on your member contributions

Member contributions are calculated on your before-tax salary but deducted from your after-tax income. This means member contributions are deducted from your pay after tax.

Tax on your employer contributions

Employer superannuation contribution tax (ESCT) is deducted from employer contributions before they are credited to your account. The amount of tax varies depending on the total amount of:

  • your taxable income in the prior tax year (or an estimate of your income if you have worked for less than a year)
  • the employer contributions (including tax deducted) you received in the prior tax year.

ESCT is not applied in the same tiered way as personal income tax rates and only one rate applies to the total amount of the employer contribution. ESCT is deducted from employer contributions before they are paid to UniSaver at the following rates:

*Income is your gross salary and wages plus employer contributions, before the deduction of ESCT, in the previous year.

Your income* in the previous income year

Your ESCT rate

Up to $16,800


Between $16,801 and $57,600


Between $57,601 and $84,000


Between $84,001 and $216,000


$216,000 and over


Tax on UniSaver's investments

New Zealand tax rules mean that investment returns generally include taxable and non-taxable components. Non-taxable returns can relate to particular asset exposures; for example, New Zealand and foreign equities. As such, depending on the investment option, the effective tax rate for a particular investment return may not be 28%. Overall, UniSaver has typically had an effective tax rate of lower than 28% in the long run.

For example:

  • Conservative invests predominantly in income assets (e.g., bonds and cash), which means that the effective tax rate for this option is likely to be close to 28%.
  • Growth invests predominantly in growth assets (e.g., equities), meaning the effective tax rate is unlikely to be 28% for this option. The effective tax rate for growth assets is harder to predict as returns are typically more volatile.

UniSaver invests in PIE funds in New Zealand and other foreign funds. Gains or losses made by these PIEs from their investments in New Zealand-resident companies and most Australian-resident listed companies are not taxable or deductible. However, distributions received from these companies are taxable, although there is effectively no tax payable (0% effective tax rate) where those distributions are fully imputed.

Other foreign funds held by UniSaver directly or by PIEs that UniSaver invests in are generally taxed under the fair dividend rate (FDR) method – the taxable amount is 5% of market value per annum, calculated daily on a proportionate basis with reference to the opening daily market value. Gains, losses, and distributions related to these investments are not taxed. So, the taxable return will broadly be 5% (although foreign tax credits may be available to offset the tax payable), regardless of the actual investment return. The effective tax rate will therefore vary year-on-year. Taxable returns have typically been lower than the actual returns in recent years. Foreign currency hedges of shares subject to FDR may also be taxed using a version of FDR where the hedges are held by the PIE (rather than under the financial arrangement rules).

Foreign funds in which UniSaver invests that have underlying exposure to debt-like securities (in particular, if they are effectively hedged to $NZ) are generally taxed under the comparative value method. That is, the annual change in market value plus distributions and any disposal gains / losses are taxed. As such, the effective tax rate for these investments should be 28%.

Debt securities (including cash) held by UniSaver directly and by PIEs in which it invests are taxed under the financial arrangement rules. The taxable returns generally reflect the income recognised for financial reporting, so the effective tax rate would typically be 28%. Hedging undertaken by UniSaver over its foreign funds may also be taxed under the financial arrangement rules.


The return you get from an investment is only one side of the equation. Fees also affect investment performance. We keep a close eye on the scheme’s costs to make sure they are fair and reasonable. This survey of fees [PDF, 338 KB] provides a useful comparison of fees charged by KiwiSaver and workplace savings schemes in New Zealand.

The following table lists the estimated total fund charges per annum as a percentage of net asset value. Annual fund charges are charged to members by way of deduction from the assets of each investment option (lowering its unit price). 

Investment options

Estimated total annual fund charges (p.a. of net asset value)

UniSteps (age 49)


UniSteps (age 54)


UniSteps (age 59)


UniSteps (age 64)










These graphs show the estimated total annual fund charges for $100,000 invested in UniSaver's three main funds against the average for KiwiSaver schemes with a similar mix of assets included in a survey by Morningstar [external link] [external link] – an independent company that monitors fund performance, including fees. 

Fees for UniSaver's three main funds are lower than the average for KiwiSaver schemes with a similar investment mix. Source: Morningstar KiwiSaver report.

These graphs only include asset-based fees (deducted from scheme returns). Many KiwiSaver schemes also charge a separate monthly administration fee (deducted from member's accounts). UniSaver does not. UniSaver does charge transaction fees to individual UniSaver members for making withdrawals etc (see 'Other charges' below). Typically, KiwiSaver schemes do not charge individual transaction fees.

Disclaimer: While all care has been taken in the display of these fee figures, neither UniSaver Limited nor any other person accepts responsibility for any errors.

Other charges

We charge the following transaction fees to your account:

All members
  • A fee of $50 for the second and any subsequent investment choice elections you make in each calendar year (the first election is currently free of charge).
  • A first-home withdrawal fee of $291.05.
  • A fee of $108.85 for a significant financial hardship or subsequent home withdrawal.
Retained members only
  • An administration fee of $4.36 per month for retained members.
  • A fee of $39.66 for second and subsequent withdrawals by a retained member in any calendar year (the first withdrawal is currently free of charge).
  • A one-off establishment fee of $117.96 for setting up a regular withdrawal facility by a retained member.
  • A termination fee of $39.66 for retained members closing their account.

These service fees were updated on 15 January 2024.

Any amounts deducted from your accounts are shown on the annual account statement we send you each year.