What is GST Returns: File GST Return online

In India, Goods and Services Tax (GST) has emerged for streamlining the tax structure and fostering economic growth. As part of this system, GST returns play a crucial role, ensuring compliance and transparency. 

What is GST Returns?

GST returns are documents that taxpayers registered under GST laws must file with the tax authorities. These returns contain details of their sales, purchases, tax collected on sales (output tax), and tax paid on purchases (input tax). Essentially, they provide a summary of a taxpayer’s financial activity during a specific period. 

Who should file GST Returns?

Under the GST regime, various entities are required to file GST returns based on their registration status and turnover. 

  • Regular taxpayers:
    • Businesses registered under GST with an annual turnover exceeding the threshold limit prescribed for their respective states must file GST returns regularly.
    • These taxpayers are required to file monthly, quarterly, or annual returns, depending on their turnover. 
  • Composition scheme taxpayers:
    • Taxpayers registered under the composition scheme are required to file quarterly returns.
    • This scheme applies to small businesses with a turnover below the prescribed threshold, offering them simplified compliance requirements. 
  • Input Service Distributors (ISDs):
    • ISDs, which distribute input tax credit (ITC) to their branches or units, must file GST returns to report the distribution of ITC. 
  • Non-resident taxpayers:
    • Non-resident taxpayers providing taxable goods or services in India are required to file GST returns for the supplies made during their temporary stay in the country. 
  • TDS deductors:
    • Entities deducting Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) under GST are required to file returns to report the TDS deducted and remitted to the government. 
  • E-commerce operators:
    • E-commerce operators facilitating the supply of goods or services through their platforms are required to file GST returns to report the details of supplies made through their portals. 

How many returns are there under GST?

Under GST, there are multiple types of returns catering to different categories of taxpayers and transactions. The key returns under GST include: 

  • GSTR-1: This return is filed by regular taxpayers to furnish details of outward supplies of goods or services. 
  • GSTR-3B: A monthly summary return filed by regular taxpayers to report summary details of outward and inward supplies along with tax liability and ITC availed. 
  • GSTR-4: Quarterly returns filed by taxpayers registered under the composition scheme to report their turnover and tax liability. 
  • GSTR-9: Annual returns filed by regular taxpayers to reconcile the details of outward and inward supplies reported during the financial year. 
  • GSTR-9C: Annual audit reconciliation statement filed by taxpayers whose aggregate turnover exceeds the prescribed threshold. 

Additionally, there are other returns such as GSTR-5 for non-resident taxpayers, GSTR-6 for input service distributors, and GSTR-8 for e-commerce operators, each serving specific purposes under the GST framework. 

What are the documents required for GST Returns?

  • Sales and Purchase Invoices:
    • Detailed invoices documenting sales and purchases made during the reporting period are essential for GST returns.
    • These invoices should include information such as the Goods and Services Tax Identification Number (GSTIN) of the supplier and recipient, invoice number, date, description of goods or services, quantity, value, and applicable taxes. 
  • Bank Statements:
    • Bank statements help verify transactions and reconcile financial data for accurate reporting of GST returns.
    • They provide evidence of payments received from customers and made to suppliers, facilitating the reconciliation of input and output tax credits. 
  • Tax Payment Challans:
    • Challans issued for the payment of GST, including tax liabilities, interest, and penalties, serve as proof of tax compliance. Taxpayers must retain copies of these challans as supporting documents for GST returns. 
  • Credit and Debit Notes:
    • Credit and debit notes issued for adjustments in transaction values or tax amounts should be maintained for GST return purposes.
    • These documents help rectify errors, reconcile accounts, and ensure accurate reporting of input and output tax credits. 
  • Ledger and Accounting Records:
    • Ledger entries, accounting records, and other financial documents provide a comprehensive overview of business transactions.
    • These records should be organized and maintained by GST compliance requirements to support the information provided in GST returns. 

What are the benefits of GST Returns?

  • Input Tax Credit:
    • One of the primary benefits of filing GST returns is the ability to claim input tax credits on taxes paid on purchases.
    • This mechanism reduces the cascading effect of taxes and lowers the overall tax burden on businesses. 
  • Compliance and Legal Obligations:
    • Filing GST returns ensures compliance with legal obligations under the GST regime.
    • Timely and accurate filing helps businesses avoid penalties, interest charges, and legal consequences associated with non-compliance. 
  • Transparent Business Operations:
    • GST returns provide a transparent record of a taxpayer’s business transactions, including sales, purchases, and tax payments. This transparency fosters trust among stakeholders, including customers, suppliers, and regulatory authorities. 
  • Streamlined Tax Administration:
    • GST returns facilitate streamlined tax administration by providing tax authorities with comprehensive data on taxable transactions.
    • This data enables tax authorities to assess tax liabilities, conduct audits, and enforce tax laws effectively. 
  • Business decision making:
    • Accurate and up-to-date GST returns provide valuable insights into a business’s financial health and performance.
    • This information helps business owners make informed decisions regarding investments, expansion plans, and resource allocation. 

What are the steps involved in filing GST Returns?

Filing GST returns involves several steps to ensure compliance with the GST regulations. Here are the key steps involved: 

  • Login to the GST Portal:
    • Access the GST portal using your credentials (GSTIN and password) provided during registration. 
  • Navigate to Returns Dashboard:
    • Once logged in, navigate to the “Returns Dashboard” section on the GST portal. 
  • Select the GST Return Form:
    • Choose the applicable GST return form based on your business type and turnover.
    • Common GST return forms include GSTR-1 (for outward supplies), GSTR-3B (for summary returns), and GSTR-9 (for annual returns). 
  • Prepare and Verify Data:
    • Prepare the necessary data for the selected return form by collating information on outward supplies, inward supplies, ITCs, and tax payments. Verify the accuracy of the data to avoid errors during filing. 
  • Enter details in the Return Form:
    • Enter the relevant details in the selected return form, including turnover, taxable supplies, exempt supplies, ITCs, and tax payable. All mandatory fields should be correctly filled. 
  • Validate and Save Data:
    • Validate the entered data using the built-in validation tool on the GST portal. Address any validation errors or warnings promptly to ensure data accuracy. Save the validated data before proceeding further. 
  • Review and Finalize:
    • Review the entire return form to ensure completeness and accuracy of the information provided.
    • Make any necessary corrections or adjustments before finalizing the return. 
  • Generate Summary and Challan:
    • Generate a summary of the return form along with the tax liability statement.
    • Generate the challan for tax payment if there is any tax liability to be discharged. 
  • File the Return:
    • Once satisfied with the return details, proceed to file the return electronically on the GST portal.
    • Select the appropriate filing mode (regular or Nil return) and confirm the submission. 
  • Payment of Tax:
    • If there is any tax liability after filing the return, make the payment online using the integrated payment gateway available on the GST portal. Generate the payment receipt for future reference. 
  • Acknowledgment and Confirmation:
    • After successful filing and payment, obtain the acknowledgment receipt confirming the submission of the GST return.
    • Save the acknowledgment for your records. 
  • Track Return Status:
    • Monitor the status of your filed GST returns on the Returns Dashboard of the GST portal.
    • Follow up on any pending actions or notifications from the tax authorities. 

Different types of GST Returns and their mandatory filers

Here’s the information on various types of GST returns, along with details on who is required to file them and their last date of filing: 

GST Return Form Description Who is required to file Last date of filing 
GSTR-1Details of outward supplies of taxable goods and services made by registered taxpayers. All registered taxpayers making outward supplies 11th of the next month 
GSTR-3BMonthly summary return for reporting summary of outward and inward supplies, ITC, and tax liability. All registered taxpayers 20th of the next month 
GSTR-4Quarterly return for composition taxpayers to declare their turnover and tax payable. Composition taxpayers opting for the composition scheme 18th of the month succeeding the quarter 
GSTR-5Return for non-resident foreign taxpayers to furnish details of their outward supplies, inward supplies, tax liability, and taxes paid. Non-resident foreign taxpayers 20th of the next month 
GSTR-6Monthly return for ISDs to distribute ITC. Input Service Distributors ISDs 13th of the next month 
GSTR-7Monthly return for TDS to furnish details of TDS deducted, paid, and TDS liability. Tax deductors under GST 10th of the next month 
GSTR-8Monthly return for e-commerce operators to furnish details of supplies, tax collected, and Tax Collected at Source (TCS) liability. E-commerce platforms mandated to collect TCS10th of the next month 
GSTR-9Annual return for regular taxpayers to reconcile the data filed in various returns during the financial year. All regular taxpayers 31st December of the next financial year 
GSTR-9AAnnual return for composition taxpayers to reconcile the data filed in quarterly returns during the financial year. Composition taxpayers 31st December of the next financial year 

What is the importance of timely GST Return filing?

Timely filing of GST returns is crucial to avoid penalties and legal consequences. Late filing can attract interest charges and even suspension of GST registration. Additionally, timely filing ensures that input tax credits are available for offsetting against output tax liabilities, helping businesses maintain cash flow. 


In conclusion, GST returns serve as vital documents for businesses to fulfill their tax obligations, claim input tax credits, and maintain transparency in their operations. By adhering to GST compliance requirements and leveraging the benefits of GST returns, businesses can optimize their tax efficiency. 

1. What is a GST return?

A GST return is a document containing income details taxpayers must file with the tax authorities. It is crucial because it helps in the reconciliation of taxes paid and tax liability, ensuring compliance with GST regulations.

2. How often do I need to file GST returns?

The frequency of filing GST returns depends on the type of taxpayer and the nature of their business. Generally, returns like GSTR-1 and GSTR-3B are filed monthly, while others like GSTR-4 are filed quarterly.

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

Failing to file GST returns on time can result in penalties and late fees. The amount of penalty varies depending on the delay in filing and the taxpayer’s turnover.

4. Can I revise my GST returns after filing?

Yes, taxpayers can revise their GST returns within a specified time frame if they discover any errors or omissions in the original filing. However, revisions are subject to certain conditions and restrictions.

5. Is it mandatory for all businesses to file GST returns? 

Yes, all businesses registered under GST are required to file GST returns, regardless of whether they have made any taxable sales or purchases during the filing period.

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