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How Is Paye Calculated In South Africa?

Quick Summary

This blog post provides a comprehensive guide on how PAYE (Pay As You Earn) is calculated in South Africa for regular income. It explains the step-by-step process, including calculating year-to-date taxable income, using tax tables, and determining projected tax liability. The post also covers the averaging calculation method for fluctuating income and provides information on online income tax calculators.


Welcome to Askly, your go-to source for answers to common questions in South Africa. In this blog post, we will delve into the topic of how PAYE (Pay As You Earn) is calculated in South Africa.

PAYE plays a crucial role in the country’s tax system as it ensures that individuals contribute their fair share towards national development and public services. Understanding how PAYE works can help you manage your finances effectively and ensure compliance with tax regulations.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the calculation process for regular income specifically. We’ll cover step-by-step instructions on calculating PAYE using SARS tax tables and provide examples to illustrate each stage of the calculation.

Additionally, we’ll discuss fluctuating incomes and introduce you to averaging calculations methods used when an individual’s earnings vary from month to month. This method helps maintain accurate payments throughout the year while ensuring that any overpaid taxes are refunded appropriately through SARS’ refund processes.

Furthermore, if you prefer a more hands-on approach or want personalized results based on specific factors such as age or contributions towards medical aid or retirement funds – don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with information about online income tax calculators provided by reputable sources like Old Mutual and TaxTim SA.

So let’s dive right into understanding how Paye is calculated for regular income earners in South Africa!

Understanding PAYE in South Africa

Definition of PAYE (Pay As You Earn):

PAYE, which stands for Pay As You Earn, is a tax system implemented by the South African Revenue Service (SARS) that requires employers to deduct income tax from their employees’ salaries or wages. It ensures that individuals contribute towards their annual income tax liability throughout the year rather than paying it all at once.

Importance of PAYE in the South African Tax System:

PAYE plays a crucial role in funding government operations and public services such as healthcare, education, infrastructure development, and social welfare programs. By collecting taxes directly from employee earnings on behalf of SARS, this system helps ensure compliance with taxation laws while providing an efficient way to collect revenue.

Overview of How PAYE Is Calculated:

Calculating PAYE involves several steps based on an individual’s regular income:

1. Calculate Year-to-Date Taxable Income:

The first step is determining the total taxable income earned by an employee during the current financial year up until now. This includes salary payments received regularly along with any benefits or allowances provided by the employer minus allowable deductions like retirement fund contributions.

2. Calculate Annual Equivalent:

Next comes calculating what would be considered as projected annual earnings based on accumulated year-to-date figures using specific formulas depending upon pay frequency – monthly, twice a month, every two weeks, or weekly.

3. Use SARS Tax Tables:

Once you have determined your annual equivalent, you can refer to official SARS tax tables. These tables provide applicable rates according to different taxable brackets. The table will help determine how much should be deducted for each bracket range within which your calculated amount falls into.

4. Determine Projected Annual Tax Liability:

After finding out how much needs to be paid per rate, the next step is subtracting available rebates (if eligible) from the previously obtained figure. This gives us our estimated yearly payable amount.

5. De-annualize the Annual Tax Liability:

To determine how much tax should be deducted for a specific pay period, you need to de-annualize the annual tax liability. This is done by using the same formula used in step 2 but with year-to-date taxable income instead of an annual equivalent.

6. Calculate PAYE Due:

Finally, calculate the amount of PAYE due by subtracting any previously paid amounts from your year-to-date tax liability.

Understanding how PAYE works and being aware of its calculation process can help individuals ensure accurate deductions are made from their salaries or wages throughout each financial year. It also helps employees plan their finances effectively while fulfilling their taxation obligations responsibly.

Calculating PAYE for Regular Income

Differentiating between regular and irregular income:

In South Africa, when it comes to calculating Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax, it is important to differentiate between regular and irregular income. Regular income refers to payments made at consistent intervals such as salaries or commissions received monthly. On the other hand, irregular income includes one-time payments like annual bonuses.

Step-by-step guide to calculating PAYE for regular income:

Step 1: Calculate year-to-date taxable income

The first step in determining your PAYE liability is calculating your year-to-date taxable income. This involves adding up all sources of taxable earnings including salary, benefits, allowances while deducting any allowable deductions from this total amount.

Step 2: Calculate the annual equivalent

Once you have determined your year-to-date taxable earnings figure accurately; you need to calculate its annual equivalent based on projected yearly earning potential using a specific formula that depends on pay frequency.

  • For monthly paid employees – multiply by twelve
  • Twice-monthly paid employees – multiply by twenty-four
  • Every two weeks paid employees – multiply by twenty-six
  • Weekly-paid individuals –multiply their current weekly wage with fifty-two

This calculation helps determine what an employee’s estimated gross salary would be if they earned consistently throughout the entire tax year based on their accumulated earnings so far.

Step 3: Use SARS tax tables

After obtaining the calculated annual equivalent value in Step 2 above; referencing SARS’ official tax tables becomes necessary. The applicable table will depend upon whether an individual taxpayer falls under category A (under age sixty-five), B (between ages sixty-five and seventy-nine), or C (over eighty years old). These tables provide progressive rates depending on different levels of taxable incomes which are used further calculations later steps.

To calculate Tax due annually, we can use the following example:

For example, let’s consider an individual with a monthly salary of R20,000. Based on the tax tables provided by SARS for category A taxpayers (under age sixty-five), we can determine their annual income tax liability.

Step 4: Determine projected annual tax liability

Using the applicable SARS’ official tax table from Step 3 and considering any available rebates or deductions; calculate your estimated total yearly PAYE amount based on your calculated gross earnings in step two above.

Step 5: De-annualize the annual tax liability

To get to a more accurate figure that reflects each pay period throughout the year rather than just annually; you need to de-annualize this value using similar calculations as done in Step Two but replacing “Annual Equivalent” with “Year-to-date taxable income”. This will give you an estimate of how much should be deducted per month towards PAYE.

For instance, if someone has earned R10000 so far during this financial year and they have already paid off some taxes then it is important not only look at what would happen over twelve months but also take into account previous payments made thus reducing future liabilities accordingly.

Step 6: Calculate PAYE due

Finally, subtracting Year-To Date Paye Paid till now from Total Tax Liability gives us the final payable amount which needs to be withheld every month until the end of the Financial Year.

By following these steps accurately while taking into consideration all relevant factors such as allowances, reductions, etc., individuals can ensure compliance when calculating their regular income-based PAYE obligations.

Example Calculation

To better understand how PAYE is calculated for an employee with fluctuating income, let’s walk through a sample calculation.

Step 1: Calculate year-to-date taxable income

In this step, we need to calculate the total taxable income from January to the current month (March or April). Let’s assume that John has earned R30,000 as his year-to-date taxable income by the end of March.

Step 2: Calculate the annual equivalent

The next step is to determine what John would earn annually based on his year-to-date earnings. Since he earned R30,000 by March and assuming a consistent monthly salary throughout the year:

Annual Equivalent = Year-To-Date Taxable Income / Number of Months Worked * Total Number of Months in a Year

For example,

Annual Equivalent = (R30,000 / 3) * 12

= R120,000

So according to our assumption here if John continues earning at this rate then he will make around R120,000 per annum.

Step 3: Use SARS tax tables to calculate tax on annual equivalent

Now that we have determined John’s projected annual salary amounting to R120,000, we can use the SARS tax tables to calculate the tax on this annual equivalent amount.

Fluctuating Income and Averaging Calculation Method

Fluctuating income can have a significant impact on an individual’s tax liability. When someone earns different amounts each month, their tax obligation will also vary accordingly. This fluctuation in income makes it challenging to determine the exact amount of Pay As You Earn (PAYE) that needs to be deducted from each paycheck.

To address this issue, South Africa employs the averaging calculation method for individuals with irregular or fluctuating incomes. The purpose of this method is to ensure that taxpayers pay the correct amount of tax by the end of the tax year.

The averaging calculation method involves calculating PAYE based on an average annual taxable income rather than using monthly earnings alone. By taking into account fluctuations over time, this approach provides a more accurate representation of an individual’s overall financial situation throughout the year.

Accurate and timely payment of taxes is crucial as it helps maintain compliance with SARS regulations while ensuring sufficient funds are available for government programs and services. It also prevents potential penalties or interest charges resulting from underpayment or late payments.

In cases where individuals have paid more PAYE than required due to varying incomes during specific months, they may be eligible for a refund from SARS at the end-of-year assessment process when submitting their annual tax return forms.

Claiming a refund requires filing your personal income information accurately through either eFiling or visiting one’s nearest SARS branch office before specified deadlines set annually by SARS.

Using Online Income Tax Calculators

Introduction to online income tax calculators:

Online income tax calculators are valuable tools that individuals can use to estimate their monthly take-home pay after PAYE (Pay As You Earn) tax is deducted from their salary. These calculators provide a convenient way for taxpayers in South Africa to get an idea of how much they will be earning and the amount of taxes they need to pay.

Overview of the Old Mutual income tax calculator:

The Old Mutual website offers an easy-to-use income tax calculator specifically designed for individuals in South Africa. This tool allows users to input various factors such as age, taxable income, contributions towards medical aid or retirement funds, among others. By entering this information into the calculator, users can obtain an estimation of their net monthly earnings after deducting PAYE.

Step-by-step guide on using the Old Mutual income tax calculator:

  1. Visit the Old Mutual website.
  2. Locate and access their “Income Tax Calculator” page.
  3. Begin by selecting your age range from available options provided.
  4. Enter your total annual taxable salary before deductions into its respective field.
  5. Provide additional details if applicable like pension fund contribution amounts, etc.
  6. Click on the calculate button which would display estimated results including gross & nett salaries along with other relevant figures based upon inputs given earlier.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question 1: What is the minimum income threshold for PAYE in South Africa?

In South Africa, individuals are required to pay Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax on their regular income. However, there is a minimum income threshold below which employees are not liable to pay PAYE. The current minimum annual earnings threshold for paying PAYE in South Africa is R87,300.

Question 2: Are there any tax rebates or deductions available for PAYE?

Yes, there are certain tax rebates and deductions available that can reduce an individual’s taxable income and ultimately lower their overall liability for PAYE. Some common examples of these include:

  • Primary rebate: All taxpayers qualify for this rebate as it reduces the amount of taxable income subject to taxation.
  • Secondary rebate (for individuals aged 65 years and older): This additional rebate applies specifically to individuals who have reached the age of 65 during the relevant year.
  • Medical aid contributions deduction: Taxpayers can claim a deduction from their taxable incomes if they contribute towards medical aid schemes registered with SARS.

It’s important to note that specific rules apply when claiming these rebates and deductions; therefore, consulting with a qualified tax professional or referring directly to SARS guidelines would be advisable.

Question 3: How often should PAYE be paid to SARS?

Employers must submit monthly returns reflecting employee salaries along with corresponding amounts withheld as part of payroll taxes such as UIF (Unemployment Insurance Fund), SDL (Skills Development Levy), and most importantly – PAYE (Pay As You Earn). These submissions need completion by no later than seven days after month-end via the eFiling system provided by SARS.

SARS will then calculate how much employers owe based upon the submitted information before issuing them a notice of the payment due date.

The employer has until the last business day of each month to make a full settlement against the outstanding balance; otherwise, penalties and interest may accrue.

Question 4: Can I claim a refund if I have overpaid PAYE?

Yes, individuals can claim a tax refund from SARS if they have overpaid their PAYE. This typically occurs when an individual’s total annual income is less than the amount on which their monthly PAYE deductions were calculated.

To claim a refund, taxpayers need to submit an Income Tax Return (ITR12) for the relevant tax year and indicate that they are due a refund. It’s important to note that refunds may take some time to process as SARS verifies all information before issuing any payments.

Question 5: What happens if I underpay PAYE?

Underpayment of PAYE can result in penalties and interest being charged by SARS. Employers are responsible for ensuring accurate calculations and timely payment of employees’ taxes through payroll systems or manual processes.

If there has been an underpayment, it should be rectified immediately by making additional payments towards outstanding amounts owed, including applicable penalties/interest charges levied against them until full settlement is achieved; otherwise, further legal action could follow, such as garnishing wages or seizing assets, depending upon the severity of non-compliance with regulations governing this area of taxation law in South Africa.

It is advisable to consult professional advice regarding the specific circumstances surrounding your situation since consequences vary on a case-by-case basis according to legislation enforced at a given point in time within the country jurisdiction where the taxpayer resides or operates business activities.


  1. https://www.simplepay.co.za/help/payroll-concepts/statutory-deductions-and-contributions/tax-paye/calculating-paye-for-regular-income
  2. https://www.oldmutual.co.za/personal/tools-and-calculators/income-tax-calculator
  3. https://www.taxtim.com/za/calculators/income-tax

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