Tax Refund Simplified: How to Calculate What You’re Owed

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Welcome to our guide on “How to Compute for Tax Refund” in the Philippines. As a tax expert, I understand that figuring out your tax refund can seem confusing. Many people don’t even know they might get some money back from the government or are unsure how to start calculating it. This blog is here to make things clearer and easier for you.

Whether you work for a company, run your own business, or work independently, this guide will show you how to determine if the government owes you money and how to calculate your tax refund. We’ll go through everything in simple terms so you don’t miss out on money that you could get back.

Let’s begin this easy-to-follow journey to understand your tax refund in the Philippines. By the end, you’ll be ready to figure out your refund like a pro!

What is a Tax Refund?

  • Definition: A tax refund is the amount of money you get back from the government when you’ve paid more taxes than you actually owe. It’s not a bonus or a gift; it’s your money being returned to you.
  • Relevance: Knowing about tax refunds is essential because it can mean returning a significant amount of money you overpaid. This could be used for savings, investments, or immediate financial needs.

Criteria for Eligibility for a Tax Refund in the Philippines

  • Overpayment of Taxes: The most common reason for a tax refund is when your employer withholds more tax from your salary than you owe.
  • Changes in Income or Employment: If your income level changes during the year or if you switch jobs, you might have paid more tax than necessary.
  • Tax Deductions and Credits: Certain deductions (like donations, insurance premiums, etc.) and tax credits can also result in overpaying your taxes.

Step-by-Step Guide On How To Compute For Tax Refund

Calculating your tax refund in the Philippines can vary depending on your employment status. Below is a step-by-step guide covering situations like employment, self-employment, and others.

For Employed Individuals

  1. Gather Your Financial Documents:
    • Get your BIR Form 2316 from your employer. This form shows your total income and the taxes withheld for the year.
  2. Review Your Annual Income:
    • Check the total gross income reported on your BIR Form 2316.
  3. Identify Taxable Income:
    • Subtract non-taxable income and exemptions (like de minimis benefits, 13th-month pay up to a certain limit, etc.) from your gross income to find your taxable income.
  4. Calculate Your Annual Tax Due:
    • Use the BIR’s tax table to calculate the tax due based on your taxable income.
  5. Compare Withheld Tax:
    • Compare the tax due with the total withheld on your Form 2316.
    • If the tax withheld is greater, the difference is your potential tax refund.

Situation: Maria is a full-time employee at a corporation in Manila. Her total annual income, as shown on her BIR Form 2316, is PHP 600,000.


  1. Annual Income: PHP 600,000 (from BIR Form 2316)
  2. Taxable Income: PHP 600,000 (assuming no non-taxable income or exemptions)
  3. Annual Tax Due: According to the BIR tax table, her tax due is PHP 125,000.
  4. Tax Withheld: As per her BIR Form 2316, PHP 130,000 was withheld by her employer.
  5. Calculation of Refund: Tax Withheld (PHP 130,000) – Tax Due (PHP 125,000) = PHP 5,000
  6. Tax Refund: Maria is eligible for a PHP 5,000 tax refund.

For Self-Employed or Freelancers

  1. Compile Your Financial Records:
    • Gather all your income records, invoices, and receipts for the year.
  2. Calculate Total Annual Income:
    • Add up all your income sources to determine your gross income.
  3. Deduct Business Expenses:
    • Subtract allowable business expenses to arrive at your net income.
  4. Determine Taxable Income:
    • Apply personal and additional exemptions to your net income.
  5. Calculate Annual Tax Due:
    • Refer to the BIR tax table to determine the tax due based on your taxable income.
  6. Compare With Prepaid Tax:
    • Deduct any tax you’ve already paid through quarterly payments.
    • You have a potential tax refund if your prepaid tax exceeds your annual tax due.

Situation: Juan is a freelance graphic designer. His total earnings for the year are PHP 800,000. He has business expenses totaling PHP 300,000.


  1. Total Annual Income: PHP 800,000
  2. Net Income: PHP 800,000 (Total Income) – PHP 300,000 (Business Expenses) = PHP 500,000
  3. Taxable Income: PHP 500,000 (assuming no personal exemptions)
  4. Annual Tax Due: Based on the BIR tax table, let’s say the tax due is PHP 100,000.
  5. Prepaid Tax: Juan made quarterly payments totaling PHP 110,000.
  6. Calculation of Refund: Prepaid Tax (PHP 110,000) – Tax Due (PHP 100,000) = PHP 10,000
  7. Tax Refund: Juan is eligible for a PHP 10,000 tax refund.

For Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs)

  • OFWs are often exempt from paying income tax on earnings abroad. However, if you have income sources in the Philippines, follow the steps applicable to either employed or self-employed individuals for that income.

Situation: Leah, an OFW, works in Singapore and earns income there, but she also has rental income from a property in the Philippines amounting to PHP 200,000 for the year.


  1. Total Income from the Philippines: PHP 200,000 (Rental Income)
  2. Taxable Income: PHP 200,000 (assuming no deductions)
  3. Annual Tax Due: According to the BIR tax table, let’s assume her tax due is PHP 20,000.
  4. Tax Withheld: PHP 25,000 was withheld on her rental income.
  5. Calculation of Refund: Tax Withheld (PHP 25,000) – Tax Due (PHP 20,000) = PHP 5,000
  6. Tax Refund: Leah is eligible for a PHP 5,000 tax refund from her Philippine income.
Tax Refund Calculator

Tax Refund Calculator for the Philippines

How to File for a Tax Refund

Filing for a tax refund in the Philippines can vary depending on your employment status. Below is a detailed guide on how to file for a tax refund for employed individuals, self-employed/freelancers, and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs).

For Employed Individuals

  1. Review Your BIR Form 2316:
    • Ensure all information is correct. Your employer should provide this form and will show your total income and taxes withheld.
  2. File an Annual Income Tax Return (ITR):
    • If your employer’s tax withholdings do not match your actual tax due, you must file an ITR (BIR Form 1700).
    • This can be done online through the BIR’s eFPS (Electronic Filing and Payment System) or manually at your local BIR office.
  3. Attach Necessary Documents:
    • Include your BIR Form 2316 and any other relevant documents supporting your refund claim.
  4. Submit and Wait for Processing:
    • After submission, the BIR will process your refund. This process can take time, so patience is necessary.

For Self-Employed/Freelancers

  1. Prepare Your ITR:
    • Gather all financial records (invoices, receipts) and compute your net income.
    • Complete BIR Form 1701 (for self-employed and professionals) or 1701A (for those availing of the 8% flat rate).
  2. Deduct Taxes Already Paid:
    • Include the total of your quarterly tax payments made during the year.
  3. File Your ITR:
    • File your ITR online through eFPS or manually. Ensure all supporting documents (receipts, ledgers, etc.) are attached.
  4. Request Refund:
    • If you’ve paid more than your actual tax due, request a refund on your ITR form.
  5. Follow Up:
    • The processing of refunds can take time. Regular follow-ups at the BIR office may be necessary.

For Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs)

  • Income Earned Abroad: Generally, OFWs are exempt from paying taxes on income earned abroad. However, if you have Philippine-sourced income (like rental income), the following applies:
    • File an ITR (BIR Form 1700 or 1701/1701A) for your Philippine-sourced income.
    • Attach proof of income and taxes withheld (if applicable).
    • File your ITR and request a refund for any overpayment.


In summary, understanding how to calculate and file for a tax refund in the Philippines is important for everyone earning an income. Whether you are employed, self-employed, or an OFW, you must know how to get back any excess taxes you’ve paid. Make sure your calculations are correct and file your tax returns on time. If you find this process complicated, don’t hesitate to ask for help from a tax professional. Remember, a tax refund is your money being returned to you, so it’s worth taking the time to understand how it works. Stay informed and take the necessary steps to ensure you’re not missing out on any potential refunds.

Recommended: Filing Your Income Tax Returns Philippines- A Step by Step Guide

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