How to Claim Back Your SARS PAYE As A Student

By Trev Gami •  Updated: 01/23/24 •  5 min read

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) sets out the conditions for people who earn taxable income to pay tax. In some cases, students can earn money from work-related activities, but they should not pay taxes as long as they don’t meet the criteria set by SARS and earn below the tax threshold. However, it is important to disclose the money you earn to SARS. If a student is levied PAYE tax

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, they can claim a refund because the law prohibits them from paying tax before completion of their studies. This guide explains how to reclaim your SARS PAYE as a student. 

How to Claim Back Your SARS PAYE as a Student

If you are considered to be in standard employment, the employer may deduct employment tax from your salary. However, if you can prove that you are not in full-time employment but a student, you must request a refund, known as eSTT. You can do this by completing Section A of the REV1600 form. Once you complete it, you should email it to Ibqueries@sars.gov.za. Make sure you send the following documents together with your signed REV1600:

When you send your request for a PAYE refund to SARS, you will be informed if it has been approved or declined. Once the refund is authorized and processed, it will be deposited into your account. 

How Do I Know SARS Will Refund Me?

You can know if SARS owes you a refund by checking your Income Tax Statement of Account (ITSA). You can do this by logging into your eFiling account and clicking on the Statement of Account tab on the top right side of your computer screen. If any refund is due, you will see the amount owed to you by SARS on the “Notice of Assessment” ITA34. The date when the refund will be processed is also shown on your ITSA. You will also see your transaction history and applicable penalties and interest, if any. 

How Does SARS Refund Work?

You can request a refund from SARS or your account can be randomly picked by SARS for assessment. In both cases, if your refund is approved and due, there is nothing you can do except wait for the money to be deposited into your bank account. A refund usually takes up to 72 hours to be deposited into your bank account, provided your details are correct. 

However, if your banking details are incorrect, you may experience delays in getting your refund. If you have no outstanding returns or debt, you should expect to get your refund within 72 hours. When you owe SARS, your refund will be forfeited and used to pay your debt. You also need to pay any outstanding money to avoid penalties.  

If SARS has initiated an inspection, audit, or verification, no refund will be processed during that period. Therefore, make sure your tax information is correct before you request a refund from SARS. If your account is up to date, any refund due will be processed.  

Does a Negative Amount Mean SARS Owes Me?

Yes. If you see a negative amount on your “Notice of Assessment” (ITA34), it means there is a refund due. Likewise, you should expect to get this money in your bank account within 72 hours. When you have a negative amount, SARS will owe you a refund. Refunds are processed electronically, so there is nothing you can do to speed up the process. 

In some cases, your refund may be delayed, and this can be due to different factors. For example, if the refund takes more than one week to reflect in your bank account, it may be a result of different reasons. As indicated above, if an audit or verification is in process, refunds will be delayed. When SARS is verifying or assessing your tax account, it is vital to cooperate with the officials to speed up the process. Failure to cooperate will lead to more delays, which can complicate your tax affairs in the long term.

If you’ve changed your banking details and failed to update the information on your eFiling account, your refund can be delayed. Other errors that can be identified on your profile can contribute to delays in the processing of your refund. Outstanding returns also delay any refund that might be due. Similarly, an unpaid balance or credit is not good for your profile. 

Although students may earn money during work-related contracts, they are not supposed to be charged PAYE by their employers. However, certain funds received by students may be regarded as taxable money, and they end up contributing PAYE, which should not be the case. The good news is that you can claim your SARS refund as a student. You need to provide supporting details, and your refund will be processed. You can also check your Income Tax Statement of Account for any refund due. If you have one, there is nothing you can do. Instead, you should wait for the money to be deposited into your bank account within 72 hours.   

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