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When Will SARS Pay My Tax Refund?

Posted 12 July 2016 under Tax

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Now that the 2016 tax season is open and hundreds of thousands of South Africans are filing their annual tax returns, every day people ask us “when will I get my refund from SARS?”.

While we’re not involved in the payments of tax refunds, we can provide a little insight into the SARS processes and timelines. So here goes …

Am I Going to Get a Refund from SARS? 

Once you’ve completed and submitted your annual tax return (called the ITR12), SARS will issue a document called the ITA34. You will receive an email and / or SMS advising you to log onto your eFiling profile and navigate to the notices section to view documents. On the first page of the ITA34 you will see whether you owe SARS money, or if they will issue you with a refund. Hint: A minus sign in front of the amount means you've been assessed as being owed a refund.

If you’re a TaxTim user, you won’t have as much work to do. We’ll send you and email to let you know the outcome of your annual tax return, whether it be a refund or if you owe SARS a further payment.

If you’re owed a refund, this will be electronically processed and usually reflects in your bank account within 2 – 3 days of the ITA34 being issued.

Why Has SARS Not Paid My Refund?

There are instances when your refund isn’t released immediately. If you’re expecting a refund and it doesn’t show in your bank account more a week after receiving your ITA34, then you may want to look into one of the following reasons as a possibility for the delay.

1. Audit

Your return might have been selected for a manual review, also referred to as an audit. SARS are required to physically assess a quarter of all tax returns (1 in 4 submitted) and so there’s a random selection that takes place. If this is the case, SARS will issue a letter stating that you’re required to submit all supporting documents for your tax return.

You should be aware that SARS has a response time of up to 90 working days, and while it’s not often that it takes quite as long as that, it’s a point to bear in mind when waiting for your audit to be completed and your refund issued.

As a TaxTim user, we’ll provide guidance on this process and tell you precisely which documents you need to upload. You can store them on your TaxTim profile and we’ll submit them to SARS for you.

2. Banking Details

SARS may have invalid, outdated, incomplete or no banking details listed for you. They would generally notify you if there’s been a problem, but if it’s been a while since your refund was due and you haven’t received any documentation, it’s worth it to confirm what banking details are captured. If they aren’t correct, follow the steps on how to change your banking details at SARS.

3. Outstanding Returns

If you’ve failed to keep your annual tax returns up to date, SARS will insist that all outstanding returns are submitted before a refund will be issued to you.

This is a prime reason that TaxTim recommends that you always submit an annual tax return, even in cases where you haven’t earned income, or below the suggested filing threshold of R350,000 for the tax year.

4. Unpaid Balance

The last reason your refund may be delayed could be that you have an outstanding amount due to SARS. You can check on this on eFiling by requesting a Statement of Account (in historic notices).

If this is the case, and you do owe SARS money, they might deduct your balance from your refund amount. This doesn’t always happen and in many instances we’ve seen that taxpayers are required to settle any outstanding amounts before SARS issues a refund.

Remember that as fantastic it would be if we all received money back from SARS, a tax refund is never guaranteed. You will only recieve a refund if the total amount of tax you paid for the tax year was more than you should have based on your earnings, allowances, deductions and qualifying expenses. If you'd like to see whether you're likely to receive a refund, you can use our refund calculator for an estimate, but refunds are ultimately at SARS discretion. Using TaxTim to do your taxes will ensure that you claim all possible deductions and expenses allowed for your individual tax profile, which can result in paying less tax and in many cases boosting tax refund payments. 

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