GST Filing – Everything a Beginner Must Know

If you have landed here fussing about the know-how of the Indian tax system, believe us, you are at the right place. Doesn’t matter if you are a business struggling with GST filing or simply an individual trying to enhance your knowledge; we promise to make it simple for you. 

What is goods and services tax?

With the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax in India, a huge change was introduced in the way indirect taxes work. GST subsumed all the other indirect taxes under one umbrella, hence, simplifying the indirect tax structure for the users to a great extent.

It is a tax levied on the consumption of all goods and services across the nation. Businesses providing goods or services over the prescribed turnover limit are liable to pay GST. 

Type of taxpayers under the GST law

There are different types of taxpayers under this act, and every taxpayer has to follow the guidelines specific to their category. Depending upon your category, the returns you have to file shall differ, and so will the frequency for which you need to file them. Here is a list of the type of taxpayers within the purview of the GST Act:

  • Regular or normal taxpayer
  • Composition taxable persons
  • TDS deductors
  • Non-resident taxpayer
  • Input service distributor
  • Casual taxable persons
  • E-commerce operators collecting TCS
  • OIDAR service provider
  • Taxpayers with a Unique Identity Number (UIN)

What does GST return mean?

GST return, in simple words, is a form where a taxpayer shall have to disclose all their GST invoices, payments and expenses of a particular period.

It will contain details of all the business-related transactions, based on which the authorities calculate the final taxable amount.

There is a different form for every type of transaction/business, and you will have to choose them based on their type and your eligibility.

The transactions broadly include the details for: 

  • Purchase transactions
  • Sale transactions
  • Output GST (This is the GST your customers have paid when you made sales to them)
  • Input Tax Credit (The GST you have paid while making purchases for your business)

Why do you need to file GST returns?

Keeping aside the fact that GST filing is mandatory by law, it is also a crucial mode of transferring information. Through the returns, you communicate to the appropriate authorities information regarding your business and its activities.

Also, not filing returns shall attract late fees and penalties for you. In case you are not filing your returns with the intention of tax evasion, you may also have to serve a prison sentence. 

Also, if you fail to file one return, you won’t be able to file any further returns as well. Hence, this will create a cascading effect on your penalty.

How does GST filing work?

The first step towards filing your GST starts with registering yourself on the GST portal. If you have not done that already, you can visit for the same. Once you successfully register yourself, you will receive a 15-digit alphanumeric code known as GSTIN. You will need this code for all your future transactions and return filing. 

GST returns can mainly be filed in two ways, i.e. online and offline. In some cases, a few returns can also be submitted via SMS. After your successful registration, these are the following steps you will have to follow:

Filing online returns

Step 1: Visit the GST portal via and log in with your credentials.

Step 2: Now click on the ‘Service’ tab and then on ‘Return.’ From the dropdown menu, click on ‘Returns Dashboard.’

Step 3: This will redirect you to the ‘File Returns’ page. Here, you will have to select the financial year, quarter and month for which you are filing the return and hit ‘Search.’

Step 4: Now select the appropriate form that you want to file and click ‘Prepare Online.’

Step 5: Once it’s done, you need to fill in all the required values and then hit the ‘Save’ button. You will now see the screen displaying a success message. 

Step 6: Moving ahead, you need to click on ‘Submit.’ Doing this will submit your return, and you can now proceed to make the payment. 

Step 7: Scroll down to the bottom where you can locate the ‘Payment of Tax’ tab and know your payable liability. If you have any credit balance left from previous periods, you can choose to offset the same.

Step 8: Once it is confirmed, you will have to check the declaration form and select an authorised signatory.

Step 9: If you wish to file your form using a digital signature, click on ‘file form with DSC.’ If you want to proceed with the Electronic Verification Code, click on ‘file form with EVC’ and proceed. 

Step 10: You can now make your payment in the final step, and this is how you successfully file your GST return.

Filing offline returns

Step 1: Visit the GST portal and log in by using your credentials. 

Step 2: Navigate to the ‘Downloads’ tab and click on it. 

Step 3: From the dropdown menu, click on ‘Offline Tools’ and then choose ‘Return Offline Tools.’

Step 4: On the redirected page, download ‘Return Offline Tool Version V3.1.7.’ Remember, you can use this offline tool only to file forms GSTR-1 and GSTR-2.

Different returns for GST filing

There are 19 forms dedicated to GST returns at present. Don’t freak out already now. As we have already mentioned, different forms are specified for different taxpayers, so you won’t have to bother yourself with all of them. 

Depending upon the form, they are filed monthly, quarterly or yearly. Some of these are just view-only returns that the portal generates for you; therefore, you do not need to file them. Here is a brief overview of all the returns:

  1. GSTR-1: This return is used to file the details of all outward supplies of goods and/or services.

    All regular and casual taxpayers need to file this form either monthly or quarterly (only if you have opted for the QRMP scheme). 

    Quarterly Return and Monthly Payment scheme is for taxpayers with turnover up to ₹5 crore. If you opt for this scheme, you will have to pay taxes monthly, but file returns quarterly.

    Due date: 11th of the following month or 13th day of the month succeeding the quarter end.
  1. GSTR-2A: It is a view-only form showing the Statement of Inward supplies. The system generates it based on the details you fill in forms GSTR-1 and GSTR-5.
  2. GSTR-2B: Another read-only form containing the details of the Input Tax Credit available to you. It is created based on documents filed by your suppliers.
  3. GSTR-3A: It is a system-generated notice for taxpayers who fail to file GSTR-3B or any other return within the due date. You need to make payments within 15 days of issue of this notice.
  4. GSTR-3B: This is a summary return of all GST liabilities for a particular tax period. It is to be filed by all regular and casual taxpayers, either monthly or quarterly, depending on their QRMP choice. 

    Due date: 20th day of the following month. For quarterly filing, it is the 22nd or 24th of the month (depending on your state) following the quarter’s end.
  1. GSTR-4: This is an annual return to be filed by taxpayers registered under the composition levy. It includes their summary of outward supplies, Inward supplies, import of services and supplies attracting reverse charge.

    Due date: 30th of the month following the end of a financial year.
  1. GSTR-4A: This is an auto-drafted form containing a summary of details filed by a person registered under the composition levy. This is an alternate tax scheme for small taxpayers with a turnover of up to ₹75 lakh. 

    Taxpayers choosing to register under the composition levy have to pay taxes quarterly at a prescribed percentage of their turnover instead of following the regular GST tax slabs.
  1. GSTR-5: This return is to be filed by every Non-Resident Taxpayer ( NRTP). 
    Due date: 13th of the month following the taxable period or within 7 days after the expiry of registration. 
  2. GSTR-5A: This form is for registered OIDAR service providers located outside India, providing services to a non-taxable person in India. This return is to be filed monthly.

    Due date: 20th of the month immediately following the tax period.
  1. GSTR-6:  This is a monthly return to be filed by all Input Service Distributors (ISD) for the distribution of ITC among its units.

    Due date: To be filed by 13th of the month following the tax period.
  1. GSTR-6A: This is a view-only form consisting of the supply details of an ISD.
  2. GSTR-7:  Another form in GST filing that needs to be filed monthly. It is filed by a tax deductor who has deducted tax while making payment of inward supplies to their supplier.

    Due date: By 10th of the month succeeding the taxable period.
  1. GSTR-7A: This is a TDS certificate generated after the deductor has furnished GSTR-7 and the deductee has confirmed the same.
  2. GSTR-8:  A monthly tax to be filed by E-commerce operators who collect tax at source.|

    Due date: 10th day of the succeeding month.
  1. GSTR-9: This is an annual return to be filed by normal taxpayers. This is a summarised detail of purchases, sales, input tax credits or refunds claimed or demand created etc., throughout the year.

    Due date: 31st December of the subsequent financial year.
  1. GSTR-9A: This is an annual return to be filed by taxpayers registered under the composition scheme. 

    Due date: 31st December of next financial year. 
  1. GSTR-9C:  This is a reconciliation statement duly verified and digitally signed by a Chartered Accountant/Cost Accountant. This is to be filed along with GSTR-9 by normal taxpayers.
  2. GSTR-10:  A taxable person who has surrendered his GST registration or has been cancelled has to file this final return. 

    Due date: 3 months from surrender/ order of cancellation/date of cancellation, whichever is later.
  1. GSTR-11: A quarterly return to be filed by every taxpayer with a UIN to claim input tax credit. 

    Due date: This has no due date.

    A taxpayer needs to file a GSTR-Nil form when he has done no taxable business in a relevant taxable period. 

How to check GST return status?

Checking the return status for GST filing is a simple process. Once you successfully file your return, you get an Application Reference Number (ARN). You can use your ARN to check the status of your return by following these steps:

Step 1: Log in to the GST portal by visiting and using your credentials.

Step 2: Once you log in successfully, click on ‘Services’ and then choose ‘Return.’

Step 3: From the drop-down menu, click on ‘Track Return Status’. 

Step 4: Enter the ARN that you received in your mail and click on ‘Search.’ It will display the return status of the respective form.

Step 5: To check based on the return filing period, select the same, enter the start and end date of the filing period in their respective fields, and hit ‘Search’. It will display the returns of the relevant period. If you hit the ‘Status’ command for a particular return and then ‘Search,’ it will display the return status.


GST has made the payment of indirect taxes much simpler. This blog is a beginner’s guide to gaining a basic understanding of GST filing.

This, however, is not an exhaustive description of all the rules and conditions under the purview of the act. For updated and in-depth information on the act, you can always visit the GST portal. As a responsible taxpayer, being aware of the tax laws can turn out to be beneficial for you in many ways.

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