Everything you need to know about the GST return forms

The dust has more or less settled down on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) with people becoming aware of its broad implications. Now come the questions on the ‘hows’ and the ‘whens’.

Everything you need to know about the GST return forms

Still not clear about what is GST return or about the process of GST return? This comprehensive write up answers all queries about GST such as:

  1. Basic definition of GST return
  2. GST Return Form
  3. GST Return Procedure
  4. Important points to note
  5. Nil returns

Frequent queries that are currently being asked by businesses, relates to who is liable to pay GST, procedures on filing returns, and the periodicity.

First, the very basic: 

All registered business owners come under the GST regime and must furnish details about their sales and purchases on the GST portal. In other words, the process is online. And yes, this also holds true for businesses that had zero operations the previous month, the only difference being that they need to file a “NIL return”, just as it was under the earlier VAT and service tax laws.

 The second point that needs to be noted, is that late filing is liable to pay a penalty of Rs. 100 each for CGST and SGST for every day of the delay – although there is a ceiling of Rs. 5,000. Therefore the total penalty turns out to be Rs 200 per day.

Related: How to File your Income Tax Returns (ITR) Online

GST Return Form

The “filing of returns” involves detailing the sales and purchases for that particular month, along with details of tax collected and paid. The last bit helps tax authorities calculate the tax payer’s liabilities.

There are three types of GST return forms that need to be submitted: GSTR 1, GSTR 2 and the GSTR 3.

Return Form


Due Date


GSTR – 1

This will have details of outward supplies (sales returns).

10th of the following month


GSTR – 2

This form contains details of inward supplies (purchase returns).

15th of the following month


GSTR – 3

The third addresses consolidated returns (purchase and sales)

20th of the following month



There is also another form called the GSTR 3B, which is a GSTR return for the July-December 2017 period, and must be filed by the

20th of the following month


Related: How GST changes your everyday life

Note:  GSTR – 3B was necessitated due to several factors: initially, the dates for return filing had been changed several times; people were unaware of the procedure for filing, and the GST website went down for some time. Hence the dates were extended, and this particular form deals with that.)

These three (or four) forms apart, there are a number of other forms too, these being:

Return Form


Due Date


GSTR – 4

This will have returns by the composition dealer

18th of the month, following the filing date


GSTR – 5

This deals with returns for a non-resident foreign taxable person

20th of the following month


GSTR – 6

Under this, the return for Input Service Distributor is to be filed

3th of the following month


GSTR – 7

This is for returns for taxpayers, deducting TDS

10th of the following month


GSTR – 8

This form is for details of supplies made through e-commerce

10th of the following month


GSTR – 9 

Annual return

31st of December of the next financial year


GSTR – 10

Final return

Within three months of the date of cancellation

One time

GSTR – 11

It is for foreign diplomatic missions and embassies, which are not liable to pay taxes in Indian territories. For GST purposes, these missions are provided with a Unique Identification Number (UIN). Any tax - direct or indirect - collected from them are refunded. GSTR-11 deals with details of inward supplies through UIN

28th of the following month


Note: GSTR 4 - Businesses dealing only in goods can only opt for the composition scheme, and services providers, excluding restaurants, have been kept outside its scope. Taxpayers are required to file summarised returns on a quarterly basis, instead of three monthly returns, as applicable for normal businesses. Additionally, if the GSTR-4 is not filed for a given quarter, then taxpayers cannot file the next quarter’s return either.

Note: GSTR 6 - The Input Service Distributor under GST refers to a supplier of goods and/or services which receives tax invoices issued towards receipt of input services

Related: 5 Financial products and services that GST will affect

Returns Procedure

The actual filing of returns, as pointed out earlier, is done online – and manually – on the dedicated portal – www.gst.gov.in

Before the returns are submitted, you receive an OTP (One-Time Password) on your registered email ID or phone number. When this OTP is entered, the portal can be accessed.

Once you opens the site – which is not just for returns but also for any GST-related query – check the top right corner of the page for the “login” button.

Here, you must provide your username and password, and will then be redirected to the login page, after which you can access the portal.

When your profile has opened, you can click on the “return” tab to go to the relevant page and select the month for which the return is being filed.

Note that the GST portal has provisions to enter all required details. If the business entity concerned, does large volumes of transactions, it may be better to upload data as a CSV or XLSX file. If any GST-compliant accounting software is being used, the returns can be automatically filed on time.

Related: How does GST impact your wallet?

Points to Note

For every sale, the registered taxpayer must provide an invoice or bill mentioning the recipient and quantity of the product under transaction.

Related: What's in Store for Housing Societies now that GST is Here

There are other rules as well that you must comply with while making a tax invoice.

Incidentally, the GSTN or the Goods and Services Tax Network, which provides IT infrastructure for GST implementation, has developed an offline GST return filing software – the GST Software – which is free and ideal for small businesses to file their monthly, quarterly or annual returns and fulfill other compliances.

Nil Returns

To underscore something stated earlier, a registered taxpayer has to file a “nil return” under GST, just as it was done under the VAT and service tax laws of the pre-GST days, even if a business had no operations to show in the month under review.

Now, under GST, all transactions – even accepting an advance from a customer before processing an order – will have to be reported.

It is advisable to ensure that the daily expenses on unregistered dealers do not exceed Rs. 5,000, so that the taxpayer does not have to pay GST on reverse charge mechanism on them.

Related: Income Tax Returns: Who should file them and when?

The question that arises here is: how do you file zero returns in GST?

This is actually a fairly simple procedure: you need to enter each tab in the online form, key in 0 (zero) against the relevant fields and then click on “confirm” – to submit.

It is of utmost importance to take care while entering the details before submitting and ensure that these are correct, because once submitted, it is not possible to revise the return. 

However, in case wrong information/data has been entered and a correction needs to be made, this can certainly be done – but only in the subsequent month by paying a fine for the changes made.

After the return has been submitted, tick the checkbox for verification, and your authorisation will be confirmed using either Electronic Verification Code (EVC) or Digital Signature Certificate (DSC).

It is important to note that if “nil returns” have been submitted a few times, one after another, the taxpayer’s registration can be cancelled by the departments concerned.

Related: How is GST going to impact your Health?

Last Words

To make a long story short, it maybe said the entire GST process has four or five basic features. First, a common GST return form meets both central and state tax requirements.

Second, there are eight forms provided for in the GST business processes for filing for GST returns, apart from those for missions and individuals deducting at source; of these eight, most average tax payers would be using only four – the ones for supplies, return for purchases, monthly returns and annual return.

Third, small taxpayers who have opted for the composition scheme will have to file GST Software on a quarterly basis.

And finally, filing of GST Software shall be completely online. All taxes can also be paid online.


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