Tax refund when unemployed or out of work sick


You can get a refund of tax you have already paid if you:

  • Were employed and become unemployed
  • Are out of work due to illness
  • Are still employed but have paid more tax than was due

This page explains how to get a tax refund in these situations.

Why would I get a tax refund?

There are a number of reasons why you may have to pay less tax than expected and are due a refund. Your tax liability may be reduced because you are on unpaid sick leave or have become unemployed.

For PAYE workers, your tax liability is spread out evenly over the year. To do this, your tax liability is normally calculated on a cumulative basis. This means that the value of your tax credits and standard rate cut-off point that is not used in a pay period is carried forward to the next pay period within that tax year.

When an employer calculates your tax liability, they actually calculate the total tax due from 1 January to the date which your most recent wages are paid. This means if your income is reduced, for example, by sickness or unemployment, you will have unused tax credits and may be due a tax refund.

You may also get a refund if your tax liability has been incorrectly calculated by your employer and you have overpaid tax.

A tax refund may also be paid if you have bought goods or services for which you can claim tax relief.

For some services and products, you can get some of the costs refunded from the tax you have already paid to Revenue, for example, tax relief for employing a carer and tax relief for third level education fees. The amount of relief you get depends on the amount of tax you have paid.


If you are unemployed or out of work sick

If tax has been deducted from your pay since 1 January last and you are now unemployed, you may be entitled to a tax refund. If you have not paid any tax, you will not be due a refund.

To decide if you are eligible for a refund, your wages are added to the taxable amount of the payments you are getting.

Taxable payments include:

  • Jobseeker’s Benefit (the first €13 per week is not taxable)
  • Illness Benefit
  • Payments under the Occupational Injury Benefit Scheme (including Injury Benefit, Disablement Benefit and Incapacity Supplement)

Any Increase for a Qualified Child that is paid with Illness Benefit or with a payment under the OIB scheme is not taxable.

If you are employed and think you may have overpaid tax

Find out more about tax overpayments and how you can claim a refund.


Unemployed or out of work sick

The amount of tax refund depends on:

  • The length of time you have been unemployed
  • The amount of tax you have paid
  • The amount of tax credits you have used
  • The amount of your weekly social welfare payment

How your tax refund is paid

If you are unemployed and due a tax refund, Revenue will refund you by cheque or to your bank account.

If you are out of work sick, when you return to work your employer usually refunds your tax in your first week's wages.

How to apply


You should apply 4 weeks from the date you become unemployed, however, if emergency tax was being deducted by your former employer you should apply immediately.

if you are getting another income which is taxable, you should apply within 8 weeks of the date you became unemployed. This includes taxable social welfare payments.

To apply for a repayment of tax because you are unemployed, sign in to myAccount and select ‘Claim unemployment repayment’ under PAYE Services.

If you do not have myAccount online with Revenue, you can complete form P50 (pdf) and send it to Revenue.

Unpaid sick leave

When you return to work from unpaid sick leave, you should notify your tax office of the amount of Illness Benefit paid during your illness. Revenue will then issue you with your correct Tax Credit Certificate. Your employer will also get a copy (showing totals only) and refund any tax you are due, when you return to work.

Where to apply

For further information on getting a tax refund, contact Revenue.

Page edited: 7 December 2021