GST Return: What does it mean?

GST return is basically paperwork. It carries details, such as purchases, sales, output and input taxes. Output tax is the tax that is collected on sales whereas the tax paid on purchases is called input tax. 

Once this paperwork is filed, the tax liability, which is the money owed to the government, need to be paid.

Who should file GST Returns?

Under this tax scheme, all business owners and dealers have to file returns with the GST department every year. For individual taxpayers, there are a total of four forms for return of purchases, return of supplies, monthly and annual returns. So, in total, a taxpayer collectively files 26 returns every year. 

The filing of returns every quarter, on the other hand, is for small taxpayers. Either way, GST returns must be filed online. 

How to File the GST Returns Online?

All taxpayers have to file their tax returns with the GST department every year, whether they are manufacturers, suppliers or dealers. Under the new GST rule, filing tax returns has become automated which means returns can be filed online via software/apps provided by Goods and Service Tax Network abbreviated as GSTN. It will auto-populate the details on each GSTR form.

Let us go through the various steps for filing GST returns online:

  • Visit the online site www.gst.gov.in
  • A 15-digit GST identification number will be issued to you which is based on your state code and PAN number.
  • Next, you have to upload invoices on the GST portal or on software (the one you are using). An invoice reference number will be issued to you against every invoice.
  • Once you are done with uploading invoices, outward return, inward return, and cumulative monthly returns have to be filed online.
  • File the outward supply returns in the GSTR-1 form through the information section at the GSTN on or before the 10th of the following month.
  • Details of outward supplies will be made available in GSTR-2A to the recipient.
  • All the details of yours and outward supplies are verified, validated, and modified. You should also file credit or debit notes details.
  • You have to furnish the details of inward supplies of taxable goods and services in the GSTR-2 form.
  • The supplier is the king here. He can either accept or reject the modifications of the details of inward supplies that are made available by the recipient.
  • Penalty for late filing of returns:
  • A penalty will be imposed on the taxpayer in case he/she fails to file the returns on the given time.
  • As per the GST regime, the late fee is Rs.100 for each day for each Central Goods and Services Tax (CGST) and State Goods and Services Tax (SGST). So, the total amount will be Rs.200/day.
  • The maximum amount of fine that can be imposed is Rs. 5,000.
  • No late fee is attracted by IGST in case the return filing is delayed. The taxpayer will also be required to pay interest at the rate of 18% p.a. in addition to the late fees. The interest is calculated by the taxpayer on the amount of tax that has to be paid. The time period will be calculated from the day following the filing deadline and will continue until the actual payment is made.

What are the different types of GST Returns?

As per the GST law, the following table lists all the returns that need to be filed, including the due dates for each. Please keep in mind that the following details are subject to change as per the CGST Act and official notifications circulated by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC).

GST Return Form What does the form contain and who should file it? How often should the return be filed and what is the due date?
GSTR-1 Registered taxpayers should mention the details of:

  • outward supplies and goods (sales transactions)
  • credit and debit notes issued
  • all changes made in sales invoice from previous tax periods 
For businesses with turnover more than INR 1.5 crore:

  • Frequency of filing return is monthly
  • Due date is 11th of the upcoming month

For businesses with turnover less than INR 1.5 crore:

  • Frequency of filing return is quarterly
  • Due date is 31st of the upcoming month after the quarter
GSTR -2 Registered taxpayers should file it. The return should contain the details of:

  • inward supplies and goods (purchase transactions)
  • previous month’s purchase invoices and taxes collected
  • all changes made in sales invoice from previous tax periods 
  • future supply orders against which advances have been received

Note: Since GST’s implementation, GSTR-2 has been suspended.

Frequency of filing return is monthly and the due date is the 15th of the upcoming month.
GSTR-3 A registered taxpayer files GSTR-3 return with particulars that are auto-retrieved from details mentioned in GSTR-1 and GSTR-2.

GSTR-3 returns carry details, such as:

  • CGST, SGST, and IGST details for tax paid
  • liability, cash ledger, input tax credit, 
  • requests to claim excess payment or credit carryovers

Note: Since GST’s implementation, GSTR-3 has been suspended.

Frequency of filing return is monthly and the due date is the 20th of the upcoming month.
GSTR-3B Registered taxpayer files this monthly self-declaration/return with details about outward supplies, the input tax credit that is claimed, tax paid, and liability. Frequency of filing return is monthly and the due date is the 20th of the upcoming month.
GSTR-4

Or CMP-08

For registered taxpayer under the Composition Scheme who runs a small business or with an INR 75 lakh turnover. The rate for the tax paid is fixed on the nature of business and input tax credit facility is absent.

Return carries the following details:

  • tax paid
  • information about the invoice-level purchase
  • consolidated supply value 
Frequency of filing return is quarterly and the due date is 18th of the upcoming month after the quarter.
GSTR-5 For NRI registered taxpayers. The return has details such as:

  • inward and outward supplies
  • the period of return, taxpayer’s name & address, GSTIN 
  • credit or debit notes, cash ledger claim refunds, closing stock of goods.
  • goods and services imported and any amendments in imports for preceding tax periods
Frequency of filing return is monthly and the due date is the 20th of the upcoming month.
GSTR-6 For registered Input Service Distributors. The return contains details such as:

  • credit or debit notes
  • the period of return, taxpayer’s name & address, GSTIN 
  • input tax credit received, reverted, and distributed as IGST, CGST, and SGST
  • distribution of input credit and inward supplies; the latter is auto-retrieved from GSTR 1 & GSTR 5
Frequency of filing return is monthly and the due date is the 13th of the upcoming month.
GSTR-7 For registered taxpayers, who according to the GST ruling have to deduct tax at source. The return contains details such as:

  • the period of return, taxpayer’s name & address, GSTIN
  • TDS details, TDS amount, the contract information, amendments in invoice amount, TDS liability (auto-retrieved), TDS late fee and interest details for missing the TDS payment deadline
  • Electronic Cash Ledger refunds (auto-retrieved)
Frequency of filing return is monthly and the due date is the 10th of the upcoming month.
GSTR-8 For those conducting e-commerce operations required by GSR rule to collect tax at source.
Information contained under this return contains details of tax collected at source and supplies effected under Sub-section (1) of Section 43C (Model GST Law).

Apart from the information above, the return encloses particulars, such as:

  • the period of return, taxpayer’s name & address, GSTIN
  • supplies made to unregistered and registered taxable individuals, including any amendments 
  • TDS late fee and interest details for missing the TDS payment deadline; TDS liability (auto-retrieved)
Frequency of filing return is monthly and the due date is the 10th of the upcoming month.
GSTR-9 For registered taxpayers with a history of income and expenditure for a particular financial year. This history will be collated based on monthly returns. Information can be modified by the taxpayer who must attach audited annual accounts. Frequency of filing return is yearly and the due date is the 31st of the upcoming financial year.
GSTR-9A For registered taxpayers under the Composition Scheme. Details contain collated quarterly returns filed for a particular financial year. Frequency of filing return is yearly and the due date is the 31st of the upcoming financial year.
GSTR-10 For a registered taxpayer who cancels GST registration.
The return contains details such as:

  • GST registration cancellation order (date and ID)
  • Application Reference Number (ARN).
  • Closing stock details including tax payable
Frequency of filing return is the time when GST registration is cancelled/surrendered. As for the duration, it is (whichever is later) — date of cancellation order or within a period three months of the cancellation date.
GSTR-11 For an individual claiming a refund of the taxes paid on inward supplies and possessing a Unique Identity Number (UIN).

The return contains details such as:

  • UIN, government entity name, the period of return
  • inward purchases from a supplier registered under GST (auto-retrieved)
  • tax refund processed based on details above.
Frequency of filing return is monthly and the due date is 28th of the month after the month for which statement is filed.

Late Filing of GST Return: The Repercussion

GST is applicable to all business owners, small or big and even those with zero returns. Missing the GST return deadline will result in penalties and additional interest. Do note that the penalties are subject to change as per the CGST Act and official notifications circulated by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC). Here’s what a defaulter can expect for not filing GST returns on time.

  • Penalties for intra-state activities

INR 100 per day as per Central Goods and Services Act, 2017 and INR 100 as per State Goods and Services Act, 2017 or Union Territory Goods and Services Act, 2017, bringing the total penalty to INR 200 per day.

Reminder: For yearly or monthly filing of GST return, the maximum penalty cannot be more than INR 5000. Also, the late fee for missing deadline for filing of — annual— GSTR-9 cannot exceed 0.25% of the annual turnover.

  • Penalties for inter-state activities

Missing IGST return deadline results in a penalty, which is a sum total of penalties stipulated by CGST and SGST or UTGST Acts. In other words, the total penalty is INR 200 per day. 

Reminder: For yearly or monthly filing of IGST return, the maximum penalty cannot exceed INR 10,000 for each filing. Also, the late fee for missing deadline for filing of — annual— GSTR-9 cannot exceed 0.25% of the annual turnover.

  • Penalties for not filing GSTR 1, GSTR 3B, GSTR 4, GSTR 5 and GSTR 6 returns
GST ACT For Inter-state activities For Intra-state activities For individuals filing Nil Returns
IGST INR 100 per day INR 20 per day
CGST INR 50 per day INR 10 per day
SGST INR 50 per day INR 10 per day
  • Additional interest as a penalty

For taxes that accumulate and go unpaid, the defaulter is charged additional interest as penalty which is 18% on the outstanding tax. In the event of a taxpayer claiming reduced output tax liability in excess @24% per annum or excess Input Tax Credit (ITC), an interest has to be paid. 

To conclude, it can be said that the main purpose of introducing GST was to discontinue multiple taxes.


GST Returns FAQs

  1. Can amendments — in documents left pending by the recipient — be made by the supplier?
    For the supplier to make any amendment, the recipient has to first reject the documents.
  2. What is Form ANX-1A?
    To make any amendments (for earlier tax periods) in the information attached in Form ANX-1, Form ANX-1A is necessary.
  3. While filing GST return, can an individual change the quarterly or monthly period?
    The registered individual can change the period of returns — from quarterly to monthly or vice versa — only while filing the first return for a particular financial year. This can be done only once.
  4. For a taxpayer filing returns every quarter, what regular returns options are available? 
    Individuals with INR 5 crore aggregate turnover in the previous financial year can file quarterly return Sugam, or Sahaj.
  5. If an amendment is to be made, when will the supplier know that the documents have been rejected by the recipient? 
    The case of documents being rejected by the recipient will be made known to the supplier, only after the former files his/her returns.

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Shalini L

One of the prime contributors for this blog, Expertise in Staffing and Recruitment, Content Strategist by Profession. A Music Lover & Traveller by Choice.

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