GST is an abbreviation for Goods and Services Tax – an indirect tax applicable from July 1st, 2017 to all registered businesses in India. So, if your business is registered under the GST Act, you are required to file its returns online. The amount of filing could differ from being a monthly, quarterly or annual activity depending on the categorization of your business as made by the Indian Government. So, let’s get to know what a GST return is and what is the procedure of GST return filing online? 

The concept of a GST return

Every registered business owner in India needs to submit a monthly, quarterly, or annual report of:

  • Sales
  • Purchase 
  • Output GST: Calculated on the total amount of sales.
  • Input tax credit: Calculated on the total amount of purchase.

A GST return is an official certificate containing the above-mentioned particularities of a business. This certificate is to be submitted to the tax authorities of India, on the basis of which, they determine a business’ tax liability. The complete procedure of how to file GST return is simple. You can file your returns online for ease and convenience. Let’s understand –

The steps of how to file GST return online

Filing of GST return is done online. Given below are the steps on how to file GST – 

  • Using your business’ 15-digit GST identification number, log in to the GST portal which is https://www.gst.gov.in/
  • Drag the cursor of your mouse to the menu titled ‘Services’ on the top-left of the screen. From the list of available options, select ‘Returns’.
  • Choose ‘The Financial Year’ and ‘The Return Filling Period’ for which you are looking to file the GST return.
  • After doing so, the screen will display different types of GST returns that can be filed for the year and period chosen you with two options under each of them i.e. 
    1. Prepare Online
    2. Prepare Offline
  • The selection of the ‘Prepare Online’ option would lead you to a section asking for details.
  • Once the detailed filling is done, make the GST payment online by utilizing the suitable challan. 
  • Next, click on the ‘Submit’ option present at the bottom of your webpage to finally file the return. Notice that the status of your return will change to ‘Submitted.’
  • Note that every successful filing will be displayed with a ‘Filing Successful’ message with the ARN – Acknowledgement Reference Number that you can keep for future reference. 

Who is required to file GST returns?

Any business registered with the tax authority of India should file GST returns. However, the number of returns that a business needs to file depends on its annual aggregate turnover.

  • Typically, any business having an annual aggregate turnover of more than INR 5 crore is required to file two monthly returns and an annual return. The total number of returns amounts to 26 per year. 
  • The number of returns reduces to 9 per year for businesses filing quarterly GSTR-1 forms under the QRMP scheme.
  • QRMP scheme

    Introduced by the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs, the Quarterly Return Filing and Monthly Payment of Taxes (QRMP) scheme is meant for assisting small taxpayers with turnover less than INR 5 crores. Under this scheme, taxpayers can file the form GSTR-3B every quarter and pay tax monthly. 

  • All the taxpayers with turnover less than 1.5 crore fall under a GST composition scheme which reduces the number of times they need to file the GST return to just 5 times a year. 

Different types of GST returns as per the new GST law

There are different types of GST returns as specified under the GST law. These returns and their aspects are mentioned hereunder – 

Type of 

GST Return

Filing conditions

Frequency

GSTR-1

Depending on whether your business supplies taxable goods and/or services, the details of its outward supplies should be given under GSTR-1.

  • Monthly for businesses that haven’t opted for the QRMP scheme.
  • Quarterly businesses opted for the QRMP scheme.

GSTR-2

Demands detailed inward supplies of those taxable goods and/or services that are claiming the input tax credit.

Monthly

GSTR-3

Requires all the information about the outward as well as inward supplies made by a business accompanied by the payment of tax on the same. 

Monthly

GSTR-3B

Needs to have a declaration of outward supplies with input tax credit and payment of the tax.

Monthly for businesses that haven’t opted for the QRMP scheme, while quarterly for those otherwise. 

CMP-08

This is a statement or a challan to be paid by businesses registered under the composition scheme as either suppliers of goods or services.

Quarterly

GSTR-4

Specifically for those businesses that are registered under the composition scheme as suppliers of goods.

Annually

GSTR-5

Applicable to non-resident Indians living in foreign but are taxable.

Monthly

GSTR-6

If your business is distributing the applicable input tax credit on an input service to your branches, this return is relevant for it. 

Monthly

GSTR-7

Appropriate to all those government authorities that deduct tax at source.

Monthly

GSTR-8

Has to have information regarding supplies that are affected via e-commerce operators with the total tax collected at source.

Monthly

GSTR-9

This is a general annual return for any kind of taxpayer.

Annually

GSTR-9A

Optional annual return for a taxpayer who has registered under the composition levy anytime in the year.

Annually 

GSTR-9C

Certificate stating reconciliation

Annually

GSTR-10

Last return to be filed by a taxpayer after cancelling the GST registration. 

N/A

GSTR-11

To be filled by a person claiming a refund. The return should contain details of his business’ inward supplies that are to be provided.

Monthly

Note: GSTR-2, GSTR-3, and GSTR-9A are suspended.

Types of GSTR forms and their respective meanings

As you can see above, different GST returns are filed with different types of GST forms. Here’s a look at these forms in brief –

Type of GSTR form

Details

GSTR-1

Every registered business is required to file this return. Regardless of whether or not there were any transactions during the term for which this return is applicable. It contains 13 sections. 

GSTR-2

The form contains details of every single purchase transaction done by a registered dealer for a complete month. Like GSTR-1, this one too needs to be filed by every business owner. 

GSTR-3

This return is automatically generated based on the information entered in GSTR-1 and GSTR-2. Again, every registered taxpayer needs to file it irrespective of whether there were/weren’t any transactions made in the time span.

GSTR-3B

Apart from taxpayers registered under the composition scheme, input service distributors, non-resident suppliers of OIDAR service and non-resident taxable persons, every registered business must file GSTR-3B.

CMP-08

This return was introduced in April 2019 and was applicable from the financial year 2019-2021 to those who have chosen the composition scheme for depositing payments every quarter. 

GSTR-4

Like CMP-08, GSTR-4 is also relevant for taxpayers choosing the Composition Scheme. 

GSTR-5

Suppliers who do not have an established business in India and are present in the country for the short term to make supplies need to file GSTR-5.

GSTR-6

Meant for every Input Service Distributor, most of the details needed in the form are automatically filled based on GSTR-1.

GSTR-7

This return shows the specifics regarding TDS. So, you get to know how much TDS has been deducted, paid, is payable and also the refund, if claimed.

GSTR-8

E-commerce operators meaning any person who owns or manages a digital platform such as Flipkart are required to file GSTR-8. It displays the amount of TCS collected on supplies affected via the corresponding e-commerce. 

GSTR-9

All the registered businesses need to file this return. It has information regarding outward/inward supplies made by these financial entities under tax heads such as CGST, SGST, IGST and HSN.

GSTR-9A

It has all the details provided in the quarterly returns filed by taxpayers registered under the composition scheme. 

GSTR-10

This return consists of 11 sections. It is to be filed by those taxpayers whose registration under the GST has been cancelled.

GSTR-11

People holding a Unique Identity Number – a special status made for foreign diplomatic missions and embassies that are not liable to taxes in Indian territory need to file this return to get a refund under GST for goods and services purchased by them. 

How to file GST returns using GSTN?

The process of filing a GST return with GSTN (the 15-character long identification number provided for your business) is very easy. All you need to do is:

  • Visit the GST portal. 
  • Upload the particular documents on the software or the portal.
  • Note the reference numbers given to you against each invoice.
  • After the uploading procedure completes, check for errors and submit the file.

Tracking the status of GST returns

To check the status of your GST returns you’ll have to follow the first three steps regardless of whether you wish to check it using the ‘return filing period’, ‘ARN’ option, or the ‘status’ option. Those three steps are:

Step 1: Visiting the GST portal.

Step 2: Logging into your account by entering valid credentials.

Step 3: Click on the ‘Services’ drop-down menu, to select the ‘Returns option, to choose the ‘Track the return status’ alternative.

After doing so, you’d be hinted at to select from the above-mentioned options.

  • Using the ‘return filling period’

    Choosing this alternative would lead you to a selection of two dates indicating the duration between which you wish to find your GST returns’ status. So, if you wish to see the GST returns between 01/07/2021 to 20/08/2021, you need to choose that date from the calendar’s symbol present next to ‘From’ and the second date from the calendar’s symbol present next to ‘To’ and then click on Search.

  • Using the ‘ARN’ option

    Selecting this option would ask you to enter the ARN number that has been sent to your email. As mentioned in the article above, you get ARN numbers for each of the returns. Enter it and then click on ‘Search’ to know the status of that GST return.

  • Using the ‘status’ option

    Herein, you’d be asked to select from four types of application status:

    1. To be filed: for scenarios wherein, the returns are yet to be filed.
    2. Submitted but not valid: for cases when the return is justified but not filed.
    3. Filed and valid: for situations when the filed return has met all the requirements.
    4. Filed and invalid: for conditions when the filed return’s tax is continuous, either completely or partially.

    Select any of the four choices that are applicable for your return and click on ‘Search’ to know the status of your GST return.

Downloading the GST returns

Below mentioned is a stepwise procedure to download GST returns:

Step 1: Login on to the GST portal using your GSTN

Step 2: Go to the ‘Services’ menu, select the ‘Returns’ option in which you’ll have to choose ‘Returns Dashboard’.

Step 3: Select the month and the year in which you filed that return from the drop-down menus.

Step 4: From the two options i.e., ‘Prepare Online’, and ‘Prepare Offline’, choose the latter under the GST form, details of which you are willing to download. For example: if you wish to download GSTR-1, select the ‘Prepare Offline’ option under GSTR-1’s title. Whereas, if you wanted to download GSTR-2, select the ‘Prepare Offline’ option under the GSTR-2’s title and so on.

Step 5: Select ‘Download’ and then click ‘Generate file.’ Note that the request will take about 20 minutes to process. 

GST calendar with due dates for filing GST returns

Here is the GST calendar which shows the due dates for filing of GST returns – 

Type of 

GST Return

Due Date

GSTR-1

11th of next month/13th of next quarter. 

GSTR-2

15th of the coming month.

GSTR-3

20th of next month.

GSTR-3B

20th of the next month/ 22nd or 24th of the next quarter.

CMP-08

18th of the month that succeeds the quarter. 

GSTR-4

30th of the month that succeeds the financial year.

GSTR-5

13th of next month.

GSTR-6

13th of next month.

GSTR-7

10th of next month.

GSTR-8

10th of next month.

GSTR-9

31st December of the coming financial year.

GSTR-9A

31st December of the next financial year

GSTR-9C

31st December of the next financial year.

GSTR-10

Three months from the date of cancellation or cancellation order, whichever succeeds the other.

GSTR-11

28th of the month that follows the month for which you are filing the statement.

Penalty for late filing of GST returns

If you do not file your GST returns within the due date, you would incur a penalty for the same. The penalty amount depends on the type of GST return that you are filing and is as follows – 

Type of 

GST Return

Penalty

GSTR-1

INR 50 per day for an amounting return and INR 20 per day for a nil return.

GSTR-2

INR 200 per day.

GSTR-3

INR 200 per day.

GSTR-3B

INR 50 per day for an amounting return and INR 20 per day for a nil return.

GSTR-4

INR 200 per day till it reaches INR 5000.

GSTR-5

INR 50 per day for an amounting return and INR 20 per day for a nil return.

GSTR-6

INR 50 per day for an amounting return.

GSTR-7

INR 200 per day until the amount reaches INR 5000.

GSTR-8

INR 200 per day until the amount reaches INR 5000.

GSTR-9

INR 200 per day.

GSTR-9A

INR 200 per day.

GSTR-10

INR 500.

You must have gained a complete understanding of various types of GST returns and how to file them online. So, pay your GST liability on time to avoid any sort of penalty.


FAQ’s

Each taxpayer gets the option to change his/her period of filing while filing the first GST return for the concerned financial year.


Any registered taxpayer whose aggregate turnover in the preceding financial year is up to INR 5 crore and is providing form GSTR-3B is eligible for the QRMP scheme.


Yes. Amendments can be made by filing an amendment form in case if the edit was made before the 17th of the month, for all other edits after the 17th of the month it can be done from the amendment section present under the next month’s tax return.