Return Filing

Income Tax was introduced for the first time in India in 1860 by Sir James Wilson to meet the losses that were incurred by the British government due to the Revolt of 1857. Ever since then, every year like clockwork, individuals who earn have been paying tax on their income. This year is no different except for the penalty bit. Word to the wise would be to file their Income Tax Returns before they miss the benefits. Since we’re on the topic, let’s talk about the Returns that need to be filed under the Goods and Services Tax.

There are adults who restrict their adulting activities to buying groceries and are unaware about what a return is (don’t be offended there are many of us, I mean many of you). I have taken upon the mammoth task of educating you on this matter.

First things first, a return is a document that a taxpayer is required to file as per the law with the tax administrative authorities.  Secondly, there are separate returns for different taxpayers. For instance, if a taxpayer is registered as a Composition dealer, the return form generated for him would be different as compared to the form generated for an Input Service Distributor.

The GST Returns have been the talking point ever since the last financial year ended. Every Tom, Dick and Harry knows that an assessee has to file three monthly returns and an annual return. On the other hand, the entities who have opted for the Composition Scheme are required to furnish only quarterly returns (lucky, right?). Moreover, if an entrepreneur has business operations in more than one state, the return filing for the other state/s would have to be done separately considerably increasing the workload.

After much contemplation, the government has simplified the return filing process for the first two months by asking the taxpayers to provide just the summary. This doesn’t mean you can continue slacking. Here is a breakdown of the forms and who needs to fill them.

A trader or service provider who is a registered taxable person has to fill the following forms:

  1. GSTR-1: This is a monthly statement of outward supply of goods and/or services, to be filed by the registered person(supplier) on the 10th of the next month.

  2. GSTR-2: This is a monthly statement of inward supply of goods and/or services, to be filed by the registered person(recipient) on the 15th of the next month.

  3. GSTR-3: This is an auto populated through GSTR-1 and GSTR-2 and will be a summary of the outward and inward supply information. It is required to be filed by the registered taxable person on the 20th of the next month.

  4. GSTR-9: This is the annual return that is required to be furnished by the taxpayer on 31st December of next financial year.

GSTR-1 has a total of 13 headings out of which most will be prefilled. The name of the taxpayer and the GSTIN will be auto-filled at the time of filing returns. The gross turnover for the previous Financial year has to be filed only in the first year of GST implementation. Next year onwards it will be auto-populated as carried forward balance of the previous year.

GSTR-1 is an all-inclusive return where detailed information is required to be provided. Particulars to be filed under the first return includes taxable outward supplies made to a registered person (B2B) and taxable outward supplies made to an unregistered end consumer where the invoice value is more than 2.5 lakhs (B2C). There is a separate column  under the latter section for sales made through e-commerce operators. Zero Rated supplies like exports and deemed exports and sale to Special Economic Zones (SEZ) are also to be filed in the GSTR-1. The taxpayer is also required to provide details of all interstate and intrastate supplies with invoice value less than 2.5 lakhs and separate disclosures have to be made for supplies made through e-commerce operator.

Other details to be furnished include nil rated, exempt and non-GST supplies. Since the GSTR-1 is all about outward supply, any kind of amendment made in current tax period also has to be furnished, including debit notes, credit notes and refund vouchers. Any changes in current tax period for sale to unregistered end consumer should be declared as well. Advance amount received against a supply to be made or invoice to be issued in the future must be reported. There is also a section for the HSN-wise summary (stay with me people), under which all outward supplies must be reported and categorized on the basis of the HSN codes.

Last but not the least, all documents issued are required to be disclosed. By all documents, they mean all documents – including all invoices, revised invoices debit/credit notes, and receipt, payment and refund vouchers.

Now we shall talk about how return filing under GST actually works.


On the 10th of the subsequent month, a seller declares the details of the outward supplies of goods and/or services in form GSTR-1. The buyer views the sales made by the supplier in the auto-populated GSTR-2A on the 15th.  The period from 11th to 14th allows for any corrections. Following this, the buyer approves the sales declared by the supplier and files GSTR-2. Any claim or correction needs to be incorporated in GSTR-2 because based on the claim reported in this form, the Input Tax Credit will be credited to the E-credit ledger on provisional basis. If there are any modifications in the sales made by the buyer, the supplier can see the GSTR-1A and accept or reject.

On the 20th of the month, when the buyer and seller approve, the GSTR-3 will be auto-populated and will be available for submission along with payment.

Now you know how return filing works. Go and brag about your newfound wisdom. But for the day, that’s all folks!