Transition into the Goods and Services Tax, the new indirect tax regime of the country, has been quite a bumpy ride till now for the shoppers, particularly regarding the bills which are being provided to them for the purchased products. Recently, many instances have resurfaced wherein customers were handed over with unauthentic bills. The latest GST bill news is filled with details of such happenings.

In order to safeguard one’s interest, it is of extreme importance to know the difference between a fake and an original GST bill. This blog will help the readers understand exactly the same.

Ineligible traders are charging GST:
The new tax regime doesn’t ask all shop owners to get themselves registered and obtain a GST Identification Number (GSTIN). There is a certain limit decided by the government and only the businesses which exceed it are eligible to register. The small businesses which have an annual revenue of less than INR 20 lakh (INR 10 lakh if the enterprise is located in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Nagaland, or Tripura) don’t mandatorily have to seek registration under GST. But, they are free to willingly register even if they fall below the threshold limit.

However, the most recent GST bill news has highlighted certain cases wherein the businesses, who aren’t registered under GST, have still collected tax from a customer without passing the same over to the government. In addition to this, it has also been observed that some businesses are still using the older receipts which carry value added tax (VAT)/ taxpayer identification number (TIN) and central sales tax (CST) numbers instead of GSTIN but then also they are charging central GST (CGST) and State GST (SGST) from their customers. This is certainly an incorrect practice to follow.

Is provisional GST number sufficient?
Certain business owners are trying to deceit innocent customers by charging CGST and SGST without mentioning the GSTIN on the bills. They justify such a misconduct by saying that they have already applied for GSTIN and would be paying the taxes to the government once the same would be verified. This isn’t right as mentioning GST number on the bill is mandatory.

The experts are of the opinion that those businesses which haven’t yet received their final GSTIN must use provisional GSTIN while issuing invoices, filing returns and abiding by other compliances. Provisional GSTIN is nothing else but the final GSTIN number itself. This is done in order to negate any retroactive changes to this number.

How to spot a fake GST bill?
The Rate of GST in India is different for various categories of goods and services. Though the list of this is widely available everywhere, not a lot of information is accessible pertaining to the originality of the bill on which these rates are charged. As a customer, if you have received a bill and aren’t sure about its authenticity, then try following these steps in order to confirm if the GSTIN mentioned on the invoice is correct or not.

Step 1: Log on to https://www.gst.gov.in

Step 2: Under the drop-down menu of ‘search taxpayer’, click on 'search by GSTIN/UIN'.

  • If the GSTIN would be incorrect, then you will be able to view the following message. “The GSTIN/UIN that you have entered is invalid. Please enter a valid GSTIN/UIN."
  • However, if GSTIN would be correct, you’ll be able to see the GSTIN status along with the following information.  
    - Legal name of business
    - State
    - Date of registration
    - Constitution of business - private or public limited company, sole-proprietor or partners

What if it shows active pending verification? If the portal shows the message ‘Active pending verification’, then be rest assured because the GSTIN is acceptable. It would show the provisional ID which is issued to the business owner but displays that the GSTIN has been adequately applied for.

Conclusion:
GST bill news has been continuously emphasising on the fact that a bill must clearly mention GSTIN while displaying the breakup for SGST and CGST. However, even after following the aforementioned steps if you’re still concerned that the seller isn’t issuing the bill in the prescribed format or are facing any other issue, then you must raise a complaint about the same. 

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