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Understanding the Various Types of GST Returns

Updated: 5 days ago

Understanding the Various Types of GST Returns

India's Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime has streamlined the taxation system by replacing multiple indirect taxes with a single tax structure. Under GST, businesses are required to file various types of returns to comply with tax regulations and fulfil their obligations. Understanding the different types of GST returns is crucial for businesses to ensure smooth operations and avoid penalties.


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Introduction to GST Returns

GST returns are the formal documents required to be filed by businesses registered under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) system. These returns contain information regarding the taxpayer's sales, purchases, tax collected on sales (output tax), and tax paid on purchases (input tax). Essentially, they serve as a means for taxpayers to report their GST liabilities to the government.

There are various types of GST returns, each catering to different categories of taxpayers and serving specific purposes within the GST framework.

Types of GST Returns:

1. GSTR-1 (Outward Supplies):

This return contains details of outward supplies made by the taxpayer during a specific period. It includes information such as invoices issued, credit/debit notes, and exports. GSTR-1 must be filed by registered taxable persons on a monthly or quarterly basis, depending on their turnover.

2. GSTR- 2 (Inward Supplies)

GSTR-2A is an auto-generated statement of inward supplies, compiled from various sources such as GSTR-1, GSTR-5, GSTR-6 (ISD), GSTR-7 (TDS), and GSTR-8 (TCS). GSTR-2A is not filed with the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC); it's simply a record of invoices received from different suppliers. As such, there's no requirement for filing GSTR-2A, as it's automatically populated.

3. GSTR-3B (Summary Return): 

GSTR-3B is a monthly summary return where taxpayers declare their GST liability and claim the input tax credit. Regular taxpayers need to file these returns for every tax period. GSTR 3B is mandatory even in case whenever there are no transactions nil return is required to be furnished.

4. GSTR-4 (Composition Scheme): 

Taxpayers who have opted for the composition scheme under GST need to file GSTR-4. This return provides a summary of outward supplies and tax payable by composition dealers.GSTR-4 must be filled every quarter, and the due date for this is the 18th of the month succeeding the tax period.

5. GSTR-4A (Composition Scheme): 

GSTR-4A is an auto-generated and read-only form designed for composition dealers. It aggregates data from saved, submitted, or filed GSTR-1/5 and filed GSTR-7, focusing on transactions where the buyer is a composition dealer. The form presents various sections, including B2B invoices, credit/debit notes, and amendments to invoices and notes made by suppliers. Importantly, there's no requirement for dealers to manually input data into GSTR-4A, as it is automatically populated. Consequently, the concept of mandatory filing doesn't apply here. Once the requisite returns are successfully submitted, GSTR-4A is generated automatically.

6. GSTR-5 (Non-Resident Taxable Person):

GSTR-5 is a simplified monthly tax return specifically designed for registered Non-Resident Taxable Persons (NRTPs). Unlike regular taxpayers who must file separate statements for outward and inward supplies, NRTPs can streamline their reporting process through GSTR-5. This return encompasses essential details such as outward and inward supply information, along with tax, interest, penalty, and late fee payment details. Importantly, filing GSTR-5 is compulsory for all registered NRTPs, ensuring compliance with GST regulations. The due date for filing GSTR-5 is within seven days after the expiry of the registration period or by the 20th of the following month for registrations spanning multiple months. Additionally, NRTPs can file a NIL GSTR-5 if they have no taxable transactions during the reporting period. This flexibility ensures that NRTPs can fulfil their GST obligations efficiently and accurately.

7. GSTR-5 A  (OIDAR service providers) : 

GSTR-5A is a crucial return for Online Information and Database Access or Retrieval (OIDAR) service providers offering services from overseas to unregistered individuals in India. This return mandates the submission of various details, including taxable outward supplies to non-taxable persons within India, any amendments to previously furnished details, and any additional amounts to be paid or interest accrued. Compliance with GSTR-5A is compulsory, requiring even those with no business transactions to file a nil return. Specifically, non-resident OIDAR service providers are responsible for filing this return within the stipulated deadline, which is the 20th of the following month for monthly reporting. In instances where no transactions are applicable, filing a nil GSTR-5A is necessary to ensure adherence to GST regulations and maintain accurate tax records.

8. GSTR-6 (Input Service Distributor):

 Input Service Distributors (ISD) file GSTR-6 to distribute input tax credit (ITC) among their branches or units. It contains details of ITC received and distributed to eligible recipients.

9. GSTR-6A (Inward Supplies)

GSTR-6A serves as an automatically generated statement derived from invoices uploaded by the counterparty in their GSTR-1. This form primarily acts as a statement of inward supplies or purchases for an input tax credit receiver, providing crucial details such as input tax credit received for distribution and any debit or credit notes received during the current tax period. Since GSTR-6A is auto-populated based on the information uploaded by the counterparty, there is no requirement for separate filing by the recipient of the input tax credit.

10. GSTR-7 (Tax Deducted at Source):

GSTR-7  is a l monthly return mandated for individuals who deduct tax at the time of making payments to suppliers (TDS) under the GST regime. The form necessitates the declaration of total TDS liability for a given period, along with furnishing information related to TDS under various tax heads such as Central tax, State/UT tax, and Integrated tax. Additionally, issuing TDS certificates to the deductee is also a vital aspect of compliance under GSTR-7. Compliance with GSTR-7 is mandatory for TDS deductors as per Section 51 of the CGST Act, which encompasses various entities, including government departments, local authorities, governmental agencies, statutory bodies, societies, and public sector undertakings. The due date for filing GSTR-7 is set for the 10th of the subsequent month, with no requirement to file a return for periods in which no TDS is deducted.

11. GSTR-8 (E-Commerce Operator): 

GSTR-8 is for E-Commerce Operators, outlining the tax collected at source (TCS) during transactions. This return captures essential details such as taxable supplies, the amounts collected by the operator pertaining to those supplies, and the corresponding TCS collected. When filing GSTR-8, operators must provide comprehensive information on TCS and outward supplies, tax and interest paid, tax and interest payable, and details of refunds, if applicable. Compliance with GSTR-8 is mandatory for the prescribed E-Commerce Operators, highlighting its significance in the GST ecosystem. The due date for filing Form GSTR-8 is set for the 10th of the subsequent month of the tax period. While there is currently no late fee for filing returns with a delay, it's important to note that interest may be levied on any delay in discharging the TCS liability.

12. GSTR-9 (Annual Return): 

GSTR-9 is an annual return filed by regular taxpayers, providing a summary of transactions for the entire financial year. It includes details of purchases, sales, input tax credits, and taxes paid.

13. GSTR-10 (Final Return): 

Taxpayers whose GST registration has been cancelled or surrendered need to file GSTR-10. It is a final return that needs to be filed within three months from the date of cancellation.

14. GSTR-11 (UIN Holder): 

Government agencies and other notified persons holding a Unique Identification Number (UIN) file GSTR-11 to claim a refund of taxes paid on inward supplies.

Importance of Filling GST Return

GST returns must be filed for several reasons, all of which contribute to the smooth functioning of the tax system and ensure compliance:

  • Legal Requirement: Filing GST returns is a legal obligation imposed by the government on registered taxpayers. Failure to comply with this requirement can result in penalties, fines, and legal consequences.

  • Tax Compliance: GST returns help ensure tax compliance by providing a transparent record of a taxpayer's sales, purchases, and tax liabilities. This transparency reduces the likelihood of tax evasion and fosters trust in the tax system.

  • Input Tax Credit (ITC) Claim: GST returns are essential for claiming input tax credit (ITC) on purchases made for business purposes. Without filing returns accurately and timely, taxpayers may lose out on claiming ITC, leading to increased costs and reduced competitiveness.

  • Revenue Collection: GST returns play a crucial role in government revenue collection. By reporting their sales and output tax liabilities, taxpayers contribute to the overall tax revenue, which is essential for funding.


1. Is it mandatory to file GST returns even if there are no transactions?

GST returns must be filed even if no business transactions are made during the tax period. However, taxpayers can file a NIL return to indicate that there were no activities to report for that period.

2. What happens if I fail to file GST returns on time?

Late filing of GST returns can attract penalties and interest charges. The amount of penalty and interest may vary depending on the delay period and the taxpayer's turnover. It's crucial to adhere to the filing deadlines to avoid such penalties.

3. Can I revise my GST returns after filing them?

Yes, GST returns can be revised if there are errors or omissions in the original filing. However, revisions are only allowed within a specified time frame and under certain conditions. It's essential to rectify any mistakes promptly to ensure accurate reporting.

4. How do I file GST returns electronically?

GST returns are filed electronically through the GSTN (Goods and Services Tax Network) portal. Taxpayers need to log in to the portal, enter the required details accurately, and submit the returns online. Various offline tools and software are also available to facilitate the filing process.ess.

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