Do you still record your bills manually in the GST era?
Two months have passed since GST was rolled out across India. As a business owner, you might be used to managing all your billing and business transactions manually in books? Subsequently, you might also be sharing the manual records with your tax consultant for filing returns. However, GST norms don’t encourage manual book keeping since it increases the scope of erroneous records.
In the previous years, when the tax consultant filed your returns, your involvement was not necessary. However, with the introduction of GST, the business behavior scenario has changed and your involvement now becomes necessary).
Transition to GST is changing business processes
As part of transitioning to GST and as a business owner, you are required to integrate your taxation practices with your unique business processes. Many business behaviors have changed or are in the process of changing and these impact the ways in which you conduct your business today. This means that the way in which you share business data with the tax consultant and how the consultant files the returns have changed too.
To understand the changes better, let us see what all is mandatorily needed from you for filing various returns.
1- GSTR-3B – Summary level details are required and these should be derived from all the invoices that have been recorded so far.
2- GSTR-1 – Accurate invoice level details are required and all invoices should be GST compliant before they are uploaded in the GSTN portal.
3- GSTR-2 – Based on your inward supplies/ purchases, your suppliers will upload your purchases in the GSTN portal, after which they become visible in GSTR-2A. These details have to be matched with your purchase records at invoice level to finalize your respective GSTR-2.
4- GSTR-3 – Based on your GSTR-1 and GSTR-2, GSTR-3 gets generated. Subsequent to this, you are required to make payments based on your tax liability.
With all of the above mandatory information required to file returns, it is necessary for you to think through the following challenges which will be faced by your tax consultant and their impact on your business.
Challenges to consider while filing returns in GST
1- As per GST, a registered business has to share invoice level details. How quickly can you share these details with your tax consultant?
2- If you are sharing manual records, how will your tax consultant record each single transaction? In the earlier days, you had to submit only summary level details whereas in the current scenario you are required to share data of all the bills. How will you ensure accuracy, especially if you have plenty of bills?
3- While recording your business transactions in the GSTN portal, your tax consultant might have to make changes in certain transactions. To ensure correctness, your consent is required before each of these changes are made in the portal. The scale of this effort might result in increased time and effort, delaying the timely filing of returns.
4- How will you check the accuracy of all of the data which has been recorded by the tax consultant, before the tax returns are filed on your behalf? This is because, in the GST regime, you cannot file revised returns which were possible earlier.
5-To avoid paying interest and penalty, you have to file returns on time. How will you ensure that the correct returns are filed on time?
6- There is a possibility that your customers might modify or make corrections in any of the bills while preparing for their tax returns. These changes have to be reflected in your respective bills as well. What if you have already shared all the data of the bills and the consultant has already filed the returns?
All the above challenges will lead to either delayed or incorrect filing. You might also end up spending unnecessary time and cumbersome effort to ensure correctness and compliance of data for filing returns.
Consequences of incorrect or delayed filing
Delayed filing leads to interest and penalty, while incorrect filing results in the non-availability of Input Tax Credit (ITC) to your customers.
Non-availability of ITC could lead to conflict with your customers. On the other hand, the incorrect filling will lead to conflict with your suppliers.
The above non-compliances will affect your GST Compliance Rating. A low GST Compliance Rating gives negative perception about your business to your stakeholders. It could discourage other businesses from trading with you. You might also lose new customers since decision-makers typically refer these ratings before engaging in new business relationships.
In short, it is quite possible that you will lose your ‘peace of mind’ due to non-compliance to the GST norms of filing tax returns. There is a high probability of erroneous recording of data due to manual book keeping practices and hence rejection from the GSTN portal. You might have to file returns multiple times and end up wasting your time, in addition to that of the consultant. Meanwhile, you could miss the timelines.
As a business owner, what you need is a GST-compliant software. A software that not only helps you in preventing errors but also detects and corrects errors.
Technology to the rescue
Here are some best practices you can follow in order to achieve hassle-free compliance in the GST era.
1- Start recording all your invoices in the correct format by using a GST-compliant software immediately.
2- Do share invoices and other transactional details with your tax consultant considerably ahead of the deadline if you still manually maintain data.
3- Check with your tax consultant regarding the completeness and correctness of data for filing returns, best enabled by a software which can both detect and help correct errors as well.
4- Work closely with your tax consultant to correct your data if required. Clarify any doubts that the consultant might have on priority.
5- Retain a copy of the corrected data with you and ensure that it matches the data uploaded on the GSTN portal.