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GST Returns: How And When To File Them

Goods and Services Tax (GST) as introduced in 2017 has the objective to fulfil the notion of One Nation One Tax One Market. It is a form of indirect tax which combined nearly all the taxes levied by the Central and State government.

Under the Indian GST regime the taxpayers of all GST registered businesses have to file GST returns on a monthly and quarterly basis and an annual GST return on the basis of the type of business they are engaged into. GST return is mainly a document which contains the transaction details of all income/ sales and expenses/ purchase and Output GST on sales and Input tax credits that the business is required to maintain with the tax administrative authorities for calculation of net tax liability.

These filings are done by the GST portal through an online method. There are in total of 13 GST returns as prescribed by the GST Act but not all business owners are required to file all types of returns. GST Act categorises the businesses based on their annual aggregate turnover and nature of business for filing their GST return.

For example:
A regular business having an aggregate turnover of Rs. 5 crores have to file two monthly returns and one total return making the total number of returns filed 25 each year. Another distinction can be seen in the taxpayers who have opted for the Quarterly Return Filing and Monthly Payment of Taxes (QRMP) Scheme under the GST regime as introduced by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC).

Therefore, Taxpayers or businesses having a turnover up to Rs.5 crore also have the option to file returns under the QRMP scheme. The number of returns filed under this scheme is 9 including eight quarterly filed GST returns (2 returns filed every three months) and an annual return.

It is to be qualified that the taxpayer is not allowed to file a return on a quarterly basis in certain situations when the aggregate turnover crosses the limit of Rs.5 crore during a quarter and when the last return is due on the date of exercising the option, has not been furnished.[i] In these situations the person is required to file GST returns on a monthly basis.

There are in total 22 different types of GST returns which are filed by various taxpayers/ businesses on the basis of categories they fall into.

The following are the types of GST returns filed:

  • GSTR-1: It applies to the suppliers and sellers and is meant for reporting the details of all outward suppliers relating to goods and services. This GST return is filed on a monthly basis and is generally due on the 10th of every month meaning by 10 days from the last day of the month for which such return is being filed. The taxpayers are required to provide all transaction details including invoices, debit notes, credit notes and revised invoices as issued by the way of GSTR-1 return containing B2B and B2C large.
  • GSTR-2: This return is concerned with those buyers who are registered under GST as the registered buyers to share the inward supplies of goods and services and it contains the details regarding purchases made by the buyer in a particular month. The due date for filing GSTR-2 is normally on the 15th of every month for the succeeding month.
  • GSTR-2A: It is a read-only document for the purpose to match the receipt details uploaded under GSTR-1. This is applicable to all the suppliers and sellers.
  • GSTR-3B: This is a summary return of both inward and outward supplies on a monthly basis including the details of input tax credit and details tax liability. The form is a non-revisable form and applies to all regular taxpayers including suppliers and purchasers. This return is also filed for the tax periods having zero tax liability. Therefore, a Nil return is filed in a case where there were no inward and outward transactions during a particular month. GSTR-3B is filed by the 20th date of every month.
  • GST Quarterly Return for Composition Suppliers or GSTR-4: unlike the normally registered dealer who files three returns every month in the form of GSTR-1, GSTR-2 and GSTR-3, any taxpayer registered under the Composition Scheme under section 10 of the CGST Act needs to file this quarterly return. The taxpayer under this return usually has an annual turnover up to Rs. 1.5 crores. This return is due 18 days from the end of the quarter.
  • GSTR-5: Every non-resident taxable person needs to file a monthly GST return through GSTR-5. A non-resident taxable person [ii] is a person who supplies goods and services occasionally. Under this return, the taxpayers are required to file information regarding outward supplies, inward supplies, any interest, penalty, fees or any other amount payable under the Act. The due date is within 20 days after the end of the calendar month or 7 days after the last date of validity of registration. [iii]
  • GSTR-6: It is an auto-drafted and read-only form which is filed on a monthly basis by an Input Service Distributor. The form contains the summary of the total input tax credit available and distributed within a particular month and also the details of the documents issued for the distributor and the manner of distribution. [iv] the details provided under this return are made available to every recipient of the credit. The return is filed on or before the 13th of every month.
  • GSTR-7: Deductor who is required to deduct Tax Deductible at Sources (TDS) under GST is required to file this return. The return form contains TDS, TDS refund, liability towards TDS and interest or late fees paid or payable. Under this return, if the deductee accepts the details furnished by the deductor, the certificate of TDS is granted to the deductee electronically. Deductor is only required to file this return within 10 days after the end of the month in which the deduction was made.
  • GSTR-8: This is a monthly return filed only by the electronic commerce operators who are required to Collect Tax at Source (TCS) under the GST regime. Operators under this return furnish the details of outward supplies of goods and services including the supplies returned through it and the amount collected thereof. The return is due on the 10th of every month for the previous month for which the collection is made.
  • GSTR-9: This is an annual return filed by the taxpayers registered under GST according to Section 44(1) of the CGST Act:
    "Every registered person, other than an Input Service Distributor, a person paying tax under section 51 or section 52, a casual taxable person and a non-resident taxable person shall furnish an annual return which may include a self-certified reconciliation statement, reconciling the value of supplies declared in return furnished for the financial year, with the audited annual financial statement for every financial year electronically, within such time and in such form and in such manner as may be prescribed."

    The taxpayers are required to file this return if the annual turnover exceeds Rs. 2 crores and another notable fact is that the taxpayers are also required to file a Nil Annual Return in case of no transaction during a particular year. According to rule 80(1) of the CGST Rules, 2017, the taxpayers are required to furnish an annual return annually in the form of GSTR-9. This return is required to be filed annually on 31st December of each financial year.
  • GSTR-10: It is a return for those whose GST registration gets cancelled. The term registered person under GSTR-10 does not include Input Service Distributor, person registered under composition scheme, non-resident taxpayers and person collecting TCS and TDS. The taxpayer shall file the return within 3 months from the date of cancellation of GST registration or on the date of order of cancellation.
  • GSTR-11: persons holding a Unique Identification Number (UIN) are required to file the return under this form. UIN is issued to diplomatic missions and foreign embassies that are not required to pay taxes in India. The object behind this return is that these organisations can claim a refund for GST paid by them during the purchase of goods and services in India. The due date for filing GSTR-11 is the 28th of the month succeeding the month in which inward supplies are received.

Few of the GST returns explained above are suspended in the present scenarios and these are:

  • GSTR-2: Suspended since September 2017
  • GSTR-3: Suspended since September 2017

Penalties for not filing GST Returns: The result of non-filing or delayed filing of GST returns can be the following:

  • Overdue Amount: according to Section 47(1) of the CGST Act, if a taxpayer (as covered under Sections 37,38,39 or 45) fails to furnish any return then they are charged a late fee of Rs 100 per day up to the limit of Rs. 5000. According to Section 47(2) of the CGST Act, the taxpayer who fails to file an annual return, is required to pay a late fee of Rs. 100 per day.[v]
  • Penalties: In a situation where the GST returns are filed with incomplete or wrong information then it can lead to a penalty of up to Rs. 25,000.

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