Common Mistakes To Avoid When Filing GSTR-4

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Published Date:  12-12-2023   Author:   sriyalini-mathivanan
common mistakes to avoid when filing gstr

The Goods and Services Tax has centralized and streamlined indirect taxation in India by employing a broad-based system spanning goods and services. Under GST, certain small taxpayers shall opt for the Composition Scheme to pay taxes at minimal rates without input tax credits by filing quarterly returns in Form GSTR-4.

However, the seemingly straightforward GSTR-4 return also carries scope for inadvertent errors due to its unfamiliarity with frequently amended GST provisions. Even minor discrepancies could expose taxpayers to scrutiny, audits, penalties, and even disqualification from the composition scheme, which erodes working capital with a higher tax burden.

Therefore, composition suppliers must gear up with robust, fool-proof practices to avoid common mistakes in GSTR-4 filing. Instead of an afterthought, compliance should become integral to business management for sustainable success.

Identifying And Preventing Errors In GSTR-4 Submissions:

GSTR-4 is an annual return that composition taxpayers should file. These taxpayers will ensure accuracy in their GSTR-4 filings. If any discrepancies or errors are not detected and rectified, it could lead to different tax compliance issues for the business. 

One of the pivotal problems is that the tax authorities may impose a late fee for delayed filing of the annual return. According to the CGST Act, the late charge will be Rs. 100 each day, subject to a highest of Rs. 5,000.

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Another penalty that could be imposed is interest liability on the short payment of tax. If supplies have been underreported in GSTR-4 due to errors, it would lead to a short payment of tax. In such cases, interest at the rate of 18% per annum will be levied on the short-paid amount from the due date of payment until the date of actual payment. The tax department may also issue a show cause notice seeking an explanation for any discrepancies observed in the annual return. It could then lead to actions like audits or investigations being initiated against the business.

In the worst case, unreported or incorrectly reported supplies may be considered concealed supplies. It might result in a tax demand being boosted, along with interest and penalties. Penalties of up to Rs. 25,000 can be imposed under the CGST Act for furnishing incorrect details in the annual return. Additionally, any input tax credit claimed might get rejected or blocked until the errors are rectified. Hence, it is pivotal for composition taxpayers to thoroughly review their GSTR-4 filings and rectify any errors at the earliest.

Filing GSTR-4 can seem deceptively simple for composition taxpayers. However, even minor errors can lead to heavy penalties or the disallowance of the chosen composition scheme. Some frequent mistakes include:

Inaccurate Turnover Reporting:

  • Failing to include deemed supply transactions
  • Excluding non-GST supplies from aggregate turnover
  • Errors in tallying turnover across GSTR-4 tables

Strategies To Prevent Errors:

  • Maintain consolidated records of all supplies—non-GST, GST, deemed
  • Carefully extract values from books of accounts to report in GSTR-4
  • Reconcile turnover values entered across various tables

Wrong Tax Liability:

  • Applying incorrect tax rate
  • Incorrect classification of goods and services
  • Omitting RCM liability on ineligible ITC expenses

Solutions:

  • Refer to rate notifications to detect the correct tax rate
  • Map business operations to HSN codes for proper classification
  • Account for RCM dues and report in GSTR-4

Incorrect ITC claims:

  • Availing credit of GST paid under forward charge
  • Carrying forward past period’s ineligible ITC to the current tax period

Steps To Avoid Errors:

  • Review ITC eligibility before making any claim
  • Ensure ITC claimed pertains to supplies accounted in the given tax period
  • Detect and omit ineligible ITC, if any, from the reported amount
Error Corrective Action
Claiming ITC of GST paid under forward charge Note that only RCM credit on ineligible expenses can be claimed
Including ITC of previous periods Report only eligible ITC for the relevant tax period
Failing to reverse ineligible ITC Detect and omit credits like motor vehicle tax

Table 1: Common ITC errors and fixes in GSTR-4

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Regulatory Guidelines For Error-Free GSTR-4 Filing:

Certain legal guidelines prescribed by Goods and Services Tax laws regulate the procedures and criteria for error-free GSTR-4 filing:

  • Reporting threshold: Aggregate turnover over Rs. 1.5 crore disqualifies composite scheme opting
  • Quarterly periodicity: GSTR-4 is to be filed quarterly within the 18th of next month
  • HSN reporting: Mandatory for taxpayers with greater Rs. 5 crore turnover
  • ITC eligibility: Only input tax credit under RCM allowed, not normal GST
  • Compliance ratings: High differences inGSTR-1, and GSTR-4 could affect ratings
  • Revisions mechanism: Errors can be corrected in the subsequent tax period

Adhering to these vital regulatory guidelines while filing returns enhances overall compliance and reduces errors and related consequences.

Documentation Of Best Practices In GSTR-4 Submissions:

Proper documentation provides the foundation for an accurate GSTR-4 filing. Some suggested ideal practices include:

  1. Maintaining updated records
  • Legal invoices for procurements and sales
  • Separate accounts of GST and non-GST supplies
  • Summary of exempt, taxable, and nil-rated transactions
  1. Reconciling books of account
  • Match turnover as per financials and GSTR-4 values
  • Detect and explain deviations, if any
  1. Preserving proof of taxes paid
  • GST paid under RCM for input services
  • Documents evidencing payment and eligibility
  1. Performing quarterly health checks
  • Self-audit to detect gaps or errors
  • Spot-check transactions to verify output tax applicability
  • Ensure there are no duplicate or incorrect ITC claims
S.No Document Description
1 Sales register Monthly records of all outward taxable supplies
2 Invoices Invoices supporting all procurements and sales
3 RCM ledger Consolidated information on all input tax credits claimed
4 Trial balance Snapshot of total credits and liabilities for a period
5 GST reconciliations Comparison between GST financials and returns

Table 2: GSTR-4 documentation checklist

Accurate, updated records ensure seamless GSTR-4 filing and strengthen compliance credibility.

Ensuring Accuracy In GSTR-4 Procedures:

Besides documentation, focusing on accuracy in procedural aspects, from data gathering to tax payment, is pivotal for error-free GSTR-4 filing.

  1. Correctly extracting required data
  • Turnover summary from the sales register
  • Eligible ITC under RCM from vendor bills
  1. Detecting applicable tax heads
  • Review the HSN-wise summary to apply the right tax rate
  • Check any reverse charge supplies
  1. Validating input numbers
  • Recompute aggregates from base data
  • Corroborate derived values against the trial balance
  1. Reviewing final return
  • Verify totals against books of accounts
  • Cross-check ITC claims against ledger
  • Validate no duplication of entries
  1. Generating correct tax liability
  • Use recommended tools to correctly derive liability
  • Recheck interest and late fee calculations.
  1. Making timely tax payments
  • Ensure payment is made before return filing
  • Confirm accurate paid amounts

Rigor in these procedural aspects verifies the accuracy of GSTR-4 details.

Strategies For Overcoming Challenges In GSTR-4 Filing:

Despite our best efforts, certain challenges may crop up while filing GSTR-4:

Working With Incorrect Historical Data:

  • Detect past unreconciled values causing discrepancies
  • Isolate and omit such legacy issues from the current filing
  • If major, file revision returns to correct past mistakes

Unknown Classification Of New Supplies:

  • Review tax notifications to assign appropriate classification
  • Seek expert guidance if unable to determine oneself
  • Maintain proper records for any future reference

Handling Clerical Errors:

  • Cross-verify submitted information before filing
  • Detect the source of error—data or derivation?
  • Pinpoint and address the root cause to prevent a recurrence

Managing Reporting Overload:

  • Start return preparation early and avoid last-minute rush
  • Follow standardized templates to capture information
  • Automate repetitive processes wherever possible.

Lack Of Accounting Knowledge:

  • Understand the basics of financial record-keeping
  • Learn how transactions translate for tax reporting
  • Attend refresher courses to stay updated

A proactive mitigation approach helps conquer GSTR-4 compliance challenges.

Compliance Advantages Of Precise GSTR-4 Submissions:

Submitting an accurate, error-free GSTR-4 drives the following compliance advantages:

  • Lesser scrutiny: Reduced notices from tax authorities due to minimal reporting mismatches between GSTR-1 and GSTR-3B filed by suppliers of GSTR-4.
  • Faster dispute resolution: The availability of reliable, audit-proof records helps rectify issues faster without penalties.
  • Enhanced ratings: Consistent, timely filings improve taxpayer ratings, helping to avail of future rating-linked incentives.
  • Lower interest costs: Precise tax liability reporting ensures optimal working capital usage, avoiding unnecessary interests.
  • Seamless auditing: Comprehensive documentation aids seamless assessments.
  • Penalty protection: Accuracy in procedures eliminates grounds for any punishments.

Thus, a careful, diligent approach right from data gathering to return filing goes a long way in minimizing errors in GSTR-4. Integrating checks, maintaining updated records, and monitoring compliances continuously help reap these sustainability benefits, besides avoiding legal punishments.

Conclusion:

The apprehensions taxpayers have regarding GSTR-4 filing arise mainly due to their unfamiliarity with GST provisions and lack of organization. By understanding the dynamics through past incident analysis, regulatory guidelines review, documentation improvements, procedural accuracy checks, and continuous self-audits, these fears can be significantly alleviated. 

Taxpayers must utilize the host of tools and techniques outlined in the sections above to ingrain error-free GST return filing as part of their regular compliance ethos for mutually beneficial coexistence with the national taxation infrastructure. Proactively avoiding inaccuracies also unlocks manifold sustainability benefits like fiscal planning flexibility, higher taxpayer ratings, swifter dispute resolution, and lesser future penalties. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q1: What are some common errors in reporting turnover in GSTR-4?

Answer: Common errors include failing to include deemed supply transactions, excluding non-GST supplies from aggregate turnover, and incorrect tallying of turnover values reported across different tables in GSTR-4.

Q2: How can one avoid errors in calculating tax liability for GSTR-4?

Answer: Refer to rate notifications to detect the correct tax rates, properly map business operations to HSN codes for correct classification, and account for reverse charge mechanism dues to avoid errors in tax liability.

Q3: What are some typical errors made in claiming input tax credit in GSTR-4?

Answer: Typical errors include availing credit for GST paid under forward charge, carrying forward the past period’s ineligible input tax to the current tax period, and failing to reverse any ineligible input tax credit.

Q4: How should one ensure compliance with all regulatory guidelines specified for GSTR-4 filing?

Answer: Carefully review all rules about turnover thresholds, tax periods, HSN reporting norms, input tax eligibility, revision protocols, etc., and ensure full adherence to prescribed guidelines.

Q5: What documents should one maintain for an accurate GSTR-4 filing?

The pivotal documents include the sales register, legal invoices, RCM ledger, trial balance, GST reconciliations between financial statements and returns, and quarterly audit reports.

Q6: What are some actions one can take to ensure procedural accuracy in GSTR-4 filing?

Answer: Steps to ensure procedural accuracy include correctly extracting required data, detecting all applicable tax heads, extensive validations of reported values, comprehensive reviews before submission, and appropriate tax liability and payment calculation, among others.

Q7: How can one handle past unreconciled values while filing GSTR-4?

Answer: Detect and isolate legacy issues, and file revision returns to correct historical mistakes. Do not carry forward unresolved amounts to the current period.

Q8: What should one do if there is a lack of clarity on tax classification for new supplies?

Answer: Review notifications, seek expert guidance, and maintain proper records for the future. Appropriately record transactions and file revisions or clarifications later, if required.

Q9: What is the best approach to handling clerical errors in GSTR-4?

Answer: Incorporate quality assurance checks like verification of entries and amounts before filing to minimize clerical errors, along with identifying root causes for corrections to avoid recurrence.

Q10: How can knowledge gaps be addressed for accurate GSTR-4 filing?

Answer: Attend tax refresher courses regularly to stay updated. Learn basic accounting practices. Refer to online tutorials or guides on the GST portal for practical aspects related to information reporting.

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Sriyalini Mathivanan

Sri Yalini YM is a qualified finance professional with expertise in GST compliance and financial matters, she bring comprehensive knowledge to provide expert insights.

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