Goods and Services Tax (GST) in India is right around the corner, ushering in a massive transformation in registration, filing, returns, and so forth related to the indirect tax regime. Every taxpayer will soon be required to submit multiple Goods and Services Tax returns (GSTR) at regular intervals so as to be fully compliant with the GST India system. That leaves businesses needing to overhaul their existing approach to compliance, thereby bringing up questions such as, “how do we comply with the new regime, and how can we do things better than we do today under the current regime?”
The purpose of this article is to give readers a brief overview of GSTR and how to file efficiently using automation.
GST returns: an introduction
Every registered dealer will need to file GST returns within the stipulated tax period. The timeline for filing and type of form needed will vary with the category of the dealer and its legal status. However, certain salient features of GSTR will apply across the board:
- Filing online is encouraged. However, offline submission is possible as well.
- Returns for CGST, SGST, IGST, and other taxes will be filed jointly.
- Any correction, addition, or deletion must be submitted via subsequent returns. Unlike under the current regime, GST does not have a provision for revised returns.
GST returns: the process
There are approximately 11 types of GST returns forms along with a subset of forms dealing with changes. The following is a brief overview of the forms related to the general filing process.
Every registered taxpayer must furnish outward supply details monthly by submitting Form GSTR-1 by the 10th of the subsequent month. The period between the 11th and the 15th of the subsequent month allows for any corrections through Form GSTR-2A, which must be submitted by the 15th of the following month. To put that into perspective, every month taxpayers have a narrow window of roughly six days to submit and verify multiple GSTR forms – quite the burden, particularly with a manual compliance process.
On the 20th of the subsequent month, the auto-populated Form GSTR-3 will be available for submission along with the payment. Afterward, the inward supplies will be cross-verified with the outward supplies furnished by the supplier for final acceptance of Input Tax Credit through Form GST ITC-1. Any excess or duplicated claims would be addressed through Form GST ITC-1 as well.
The above procedure only deals with the monthly return. Different but similar GSTR forms would need to be filed on both a quarterly and an annual basis, depending on the legal status of the taxpayer as per GST law. Here are some screenshots of GSTR forms showing the various information taxpayers must supply (and how complex it will be):
GST returns: the benefits of automation
There is no doubt that the paperwork relating to GST India – like any taxation system – will be tedious and time-consuming. Nevertheless, a dealer, by using automation software, can significantly reduce the time needed for compliance.
With automation, the same tasks that once required significant workforce hours by multiple headcounts become much more efficient and accurate. Following is a closer look at these and other benefits of using automation for filing GST returns:
- Accuracy – The principal advantage of using GST tax filing software is the confidence that the computations are not subject to human mistakes and flaws. As everything is automated, there is little to no human interaction with the entire process – thus helping to ensure the results are correct and reducing the need for revisions.
- E-filing of returns – The advent of online filing of GST returns gives dealers an easy, efficient way to file. Yet many aren’t accustomed to filing electronically, and they may even be uncomfortable with the idea. Using electronic tax-filing software would bring a much-needed respite from that uneasiness.
- Records – Using automated tax filing software significantly improves document management, as it reduces the need to dig through client files and records. The software stores and generates documents in a secure format that’s easily accessible to multiple users.
- Reliable backups – Unlike the traditional way of storing documents in paper format, storing records in e-format prevents critical files from being damaged by fire, water, or even theft. Automatic tax filing software backs up all files so they are accessible to multiple users and safe from the damage that can occur to physical files.
- Indexing – An underrated yet critical characteristic of automatic tax filing software is the ability to index files based on several parameters, thereby making it easy to search for a quick reference or detailed review.
The paperwork involving GST returns is repetitive and confusing, which can easily lead to mistakes. With the aid of automated tax filing software, a taxpayer can ensure that such paperwork is completed and submitted on time and with the utmost accuracy.
Avalara is an Application Service Provider (ASP) partner with licensed GST Suvidha Providers (GSPs). We offer TrustFile GST, a GST compliance solution in the cloud for multistate returns preparation and filing. To learn more about how Avalara can help you with GST automation, contact us through https://www.avalara.com/in/products/gst-returns-filing