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Seniors and Pensioners Tax Offset

The SAPTO is a special tax reduction available for senior Australians who are eligible for the Government Age or Service pension (even though they may not have received a pension due to income or assets).

Eligibility for SAPTO requirements include Age, Residency and the Government Pension Test. There is also an income test which ensures the offset is only available to lower income taxpayers.

The SAPTO is only available to those with single incomes below $50,119 or couples with combined incomes below $83,580. Couples separated due to illness have a combined income limit of $95,198.

SAPTO Rebates and Income Tests 2012-13 to 2023-24

The maximum offset is withdrawn at the rate of 12.5 cents per dollar of income over the Low Income threshold.

Family StatusMax. OffsetLow Income No offset income over..
Couple – Married/Defacto$1,602 each$28,974 each$83,580 combined
Couple separated due to illness$2,040 each$31,279 each$95,198 combined

Reg 9  Reg 10 2015-16 reg EM

“Income” for the purposes of the income test is not simply taxable income. “Rebate income” as it is referred to, has an expanded definition of income, which includes taxable income, adjusted fringe benefits, reportable super contributions and net investment loss.

Unused rebate – transferring to your spouse

In circumstances when the rebate is not fully absorbed by tax payable, portions of the remainder may be transferable to a spouse. Calculations are determined according to income, whether the couple are living together, or living apart due to illness, and the residence status of the transferee spouse.

Example calculations have been provided here: Transferring the seniors and pensioners tax offset

Eligibility for SAPTO

The age test refers to the age at which you are entitled to the age pension (see tables below), whether as a war veteran or otherwise.

Residency requires generally more than 10 years in Australia, or exemption (as for refugees) and not having been in prison for the full year.

The Government pensions test requires eligibility (which is subject to an income test) for the Age and Service pensions.

  • The ATO eligibility questionnaire for 2022-23 is here.
  • The ATO eligibility questionnaire for 2021-22 is here.
  • The ATO eligibility questionnaire for 2020-21 is here.
  • The ATO eligibility questionnaire for 2019-20 is here.
  • The ATO eligibility questionnaire for 2018-19 is here.
  • The ATO eligibility questionnaire for 2017-18 is here.
  • The ATO eligibility questionnaire for 2016-17 is here.
  • The ATO eligibility questionnaire for 2015-16 is here.
  • The ATO eligibility questionnaire for 2014-15 is here.

SAPTO Age Test Tables

The taxpayer is eligible if attained “pension age” at 30 June.

Eligibility for an Australian Government age pension from Centrelink requires an age of 65 years or older on 30 June, or subject to Veterans Affairs requirements, aged 60. From 1 July 2017 the Centrelink pension age is being progressively increased to age 67.

(Government plans to further increase the pension age to 70 years were abandoned.)

 Date of Birth Required Age at 30 June
 On or before 30 June 1952 65 years
 1 July 1952 to 31 December 1953 65 years 6 months
 1 January 1954 to 30 June 1955 66 years
 1 July 1955 to 31 December 1956 66 years 6 months
 On or after 1 January 1957 67 years

SATO Income Test Tables (2011 and 2012)

From 1 July 2012, the pensioner tax offset merged with the SATO, henceforth to be referred to as SAPTO. Medicare Levy exemptions carry across to the new rebate as well.

If SATO claimants are also eligible for the Pensioner Tax Offset the SATO takes precedent because it’s higher.

The calculations and eligibility requirements for SATO can be complex, and it is not necessary to calculate it in detail to be able to make a claim in your tax return. It is sufficient to supply the relevant information, and have the Tax Office work it out.

 Family Status (pensioner)Maximum Offset per personIncome threshold: Offset reduces by 12.5 cents per dollar over:
 Single $2,230  $30,685
 Married/defacto (each) $1,602 each  $26,680 eachEach person is assessed on half their combined income, and unused offsets are transferable
Couple separated due to illness (each) $2,040 each  $29,600 each

“Income” for these purposes is a defined term: “Rebate income”, which is a combination of taxable income, adjusted fringe benefits, reportable super contributions and net investment loss.  The ATO has a worksheet (2012) for calculating Rebate income for the purposes of the Senior Australian Tax Offset.

See also

This page was last modified 2023-06-30