Hundreds of thousands of South Africans are filing their annual tax returns and everyday 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 …
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.
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 than a week after receiving your ITA34, then you may want to look into one of the following reasons as a possibility for the delay.
Your return might have been selected for an audit or verification. On the ITA34, there is a block which says Audit: Yes or Audit: No. If it says No then this means SARS will be able to process a refund immediately, all going to plan. If it says Yes, then wait for SARS to send a follow-up letter requesting supporting documentation. All this means is that SARS wants to check that the information and amounts you provided to them on the return matches the original documents used to complete the return. It is nothing to worry about if everything was entered correctly and truthfully. A new popup called Documents for review will appear on the Income Tax Working Page and this is where you must upload digital copies / scans of all the supporting documents required. A word of advice though, each one must be less than 5Mb. The total number of documents that can be uploaded cannot be more than 20.
Once the audit process is finished, SARS has 21 business days to issue a Letter of Completion and also generate a second, revised/additional ITA34 showing if the refund or amount owing has changed or stayed the same. Once the Letter arrives, expect the refund within 7 business days.
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.
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.
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.
To check for outstanding returns, click on the Returns tab on SARS eFiling, then click SARS correspondence, Request Historic IT Notices and then view a Statement of Account, also known as an ITSA. Here you will see any outstanding returns. If you complete these old tax returns SARS can release your tax refund (as long as you haven't been charged penalties for late filing that is).
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 R500,000 for the tax year.
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.
Still no word from SARS and none of the above apply? It would be best to contact their help centre on 0800 00 7277. Tell them TaxTim sent you!
Remember: the only way you can get an income tax refund / "get tax back from SARS" is to complete and submit your tax return. Use TaxTim to make the process simple and get your maximum possible tax refund this tax season.