How Long Does It Take For SARS to Pay Out Refund?

By Devsh Jag •  Updated: 12/19/24 •  5 min read

Each year, tax rates are proposed by the Minister of Finance during the annual Budget Speech. Taxes are extremely important as it allows the government to fund several crucial public services, such as schools, medical facilities, and security services.

The amount of tax levied varies and depends on the type of income being taxed. In some instances, when SARS calculates your final tax

assessment, there may be a refund owed to you. In this article, we will discuss how to receive your refund from SARS and provide answers to a few other frequently asked questions. 

How long does it take for SARS to pay out refund?

The introduction of eFiling has made transactions with SARS easier and faster than ever. Following your final tax assessment, if there is a refund due to you, it will automatically be logged and paid out to you. You will not have to manually request it. 

A refund takes between 48 – 72 hours (2 to 3 business days) from the date it was issued to you through eFiling. There are certain instances where it may take a little longer, but SARS will notify you of this accordingly. 

It is vital that all your information with SARS, especially your banking details, are accurate as possible to minimize the chances of further delays. 

Why is my SARS refund taking so long?

If you have completed your tax return and have not been selected for verification or an audit, you may be waiting for a refund from SARS and wondering why it’s taking a while to be paid out. 

SARS does aim to pay refunds within 72 hours of issue; however, this is not a rule and can be extended if necessary. If you have not received your refund within 21 days and have not had any correspondence, then it’s worth investigating a little further, as there may be an issue present. 

The most common issue that SARS has mentioned, which causes delays in refunds, is invalid banking details reflecting on taxpayers’ eFiling profiles. Therefore, start by checking your details on eFiling and confirming that they are correct. 

If your banking details are correct, and you have not received any correspondence from SARS regarding the delay or expected date of resolution, then you can contact the SARS Contact Centre on 0800 00 7277 to inquire why there is a delay. 

In some instances, SARS may have placed a “stopper” on your account due to your tax returns not being up to date (this may include previous years). If this is not the case and there is no valid reason for the delay, you can file a complaint telephonically or via the eFiling platform. 

As a final measure, after exhausting all other escalation methods, you can lodge a formal complaint with the Tax Ombud. The Tax Ombud deals with service, procedural, and administrative complaints, and their services are free of charge. 

Note: It’s always a good idea to check the SARS website for news releases from SARS on their website https://www.sars.gov.za/  that may explain reasons for delays. Example: In 2022, there were two news releases from SARS regarding delays in refund payments in July and September. 

View the correspondence from July here. You can also see the September news release here

How do I track my SARS refund?

If SARS owes you a refund, you can track this on your eFiling account. 

The refund amount and refund payment date will be displayed on the ‘Income Tax Statement of Account’ (ITSA). The payment date for the amount owed to you will be displayed on the ‘Notice of Assessment’ (ITA34)

To view this: 

The Statement of account will then be displayed, which includes the amount owed and the expected date of refund payment. 

Alternatively, you can call the SARS Contact Centre on 0800 00 7277. 

How long does it take for tax refund to receive refund?

If you’re owed a refund from SARS, the amount due to you will be electronically processed and generally takes between 48 – 72 hours to reflect in your bank account after the date of the ITA34 being issued. 

There are a few instances where a refund may not be released immediately. This includes: 

Audit: This means that SAARS require additional supporting documentation to verify that the information and amounts provided are accurate and match the original documents before the return can be completed.

Banking Details: This is one of the more common issues. SARS may have invalid or outdated baking details for you on their systems, and you will need to update them before the refund can be completed. 

Outstanding Returns: If you have outstanding returns from previous years, SARS will require that you bring these up to date before any refunds can be processed. You can check the status of your historical returns on eFiling. 

Unpaid Balances: The final reason that you may experience a delay is if you already have an outstanding amount owed to SARS. In this case, SARS will deduct any money owed to them from your current balance before the refund is processed. 

If none of these relates to you, then you should call the SARS Contact Centre on 0800 00 7277 for more information. 

Why is it taking so long to get my tax refund?

The most common reason for delays with tax refund payments are: 

  • Audits
  • Incorrect Banking Details 
  • Outstanding Returns
  • Unpaid Balances

Aside from the reason above, they could be internal delays within SARS, such as backlogs and system issues. It is always a good idea to check the SARS website https://www.sars.gov.za/  for news and updates regarding delays in processes or payments. 

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