The implementation of GST by the Indian Government has been hailed as the greatest tax reform undertaken in India since independence and with good reason. The GST or Goods and Services Tax has the potential of creating a uniform indirect tax code that subsumes a range of taxes, levies and duties to prevent the multilevel taxation prevalent earlier. Some of the taxes, levies and duties that have been replaced by GST include state surcharges, tax on lotteries, entertainment tax, purchase tax, luxury tax, sales tax, state VAT, excise duty and service tax to name a few. The introduction of a uniform indirect tax code across the country via GST can potentially improve the ease of doing business across state lines and simultaneously improve efficiency of indirect tax collection. In the following sections we will provide a step by step guide that you can use to register your business with the new GST regime.
GST Registration – The Basics
One of the cornerstones of GST implementation is the process of GST registration by eligible businesses to ensure that they are filing taxes under the new plan. As a result the earlier TIN or tax identification number allocated to businesses will be replaced by the new GSTIN or GST Identification Number. The GSTIN of a business is generated after a tax payer completes the GST registration.
It is important to note that as per existing government rules, GST registration is mandatory for any and all businesses that are engaged in the supply of goods/services in India provided their turnover exceeds a pre-determined government approved limit (currently annual turnover of Rs. 20 lakhs and 10 lakh annual turnover for businesses in hill states and North Eastern states). Additionally, all businesses that were earlier covered under pre-GST era taxation systems such as service tax, excise and VAT are also mandatorily required to undergo GST registration. In case a business that has to be registered under GST rules continues operating without completing registration, heavy fines and penalties are liable to be imposed.
Steps for GST Registration
One of the hallmarks of the GST registration process is the simplicity of the online registration method. The central government approved portal for GST registration is www.gst.gov.in this is where you can start the process of getting your business registered. Since the launch of GST, a number of websites have cropped up which offer GST registration services for a fee, but it is better that you sign up by yourself on the authorized government website.
Step 1. In case you are signing up for the first time as a tax payer, you have to obtain a temporary registration number (TRN). You can skip this step and proceed directly to Step 2 in case you already have a TRN. The key requirements for generating a TRN are – a valid phone number and email address as well as a valid PAN for your business. PAN for the business is mandatory to sign up for GST. The New Registration Page can be reached under the Services Tab of the site’s home page.
Subsequently, you will be directed to the following page:
On this page you can fill out the required details to generate your TRN. Make sure you have access to both the mobile number and the email id provided as two separate OTPs will be sent out and both are required in order to generate the TRN.
Step 2. In case you have already been provided a TRN as a result being registered under one of the earlier tax systems or have generated your TRN using the directions provided in Step 1, you can proceed using the TRN. On the registration page shown earlier, you can click on the TRN button to display the following page.
You can proceed with further steps of the registration process using your TRN from the above page. On providing the capcha and TRN and clicking on proceed, you receive a new OTP on your mobile/email, which needs to be provided to reach the GST registration application page.
Step 3. The application form for GST registration requires you to fill out a variety of information under separate tabs/pages. Each tab requires different set of information and it might be a good idea to consult your CA, financial advisor or tax consultant before you submit the completed form. Some key information that you would need to provide to complete the registration form includes:
You can take up to 15 days in order to fill out and submit the form, so make sure you save the information you have filled out frequently in case you are unable to finish it in one go.
Step 4. Once you have completely filled the GST registration form online and uploaded digital copies of the key documents mentioned above, you can click the “save and continue” button to proceed. Some of the details you are required to fill out and provide supporting documents for include, promoter/director information, authorized signatory, principal place of business, bank account details, etc.
Step 5. Once the above steps have been completed in an error free manner, you will be directed to the digital signature certificate registration section. This is required in order to ensure GST registration application verification as the entire process does not include paper documents and needs to be completed online. In case of LLPs and companies, digital signature is mandatory and a digital signature can only be registered and used by the authorized signatory as mentioned on the application form. Alternate verification options are also available via e-signature or EVC. Different steps must be taken in order to complete verification of the GST Registration application using EVC or e-signature.
Step 6. Once all the above steps have been completed, an Application Reference Number (ARN) will be generated which is sent to your registered number and email id. Using the ARN you can check the current status of your GST Registration application. Once the status shows as “Approved”, your GSTIN number will be generated and sent to your registered email and phone number. You will also receive a temporary user name via email.
Step 7. You can use the temporary username to log into your GST account using the “First Time Login” option as shown below:
After login, you will have to change your temporary username and password for future use. On completion of this action, you will be redirected to the Dashboard page which provides an overview of your GST status. Once your GST account is up and running (within 3 to 5 days of logging in), you can download your GST Registration Certificate from the services menu, which confirms your GST registration and features your GSTIN, registration validity information, etc.
GST in India is still evolving and various changes in procedures and tax rates are expected to happen in the near future, but the new tax regime is here to stay and it is definitely a step forward. Also as per current rules, GST is charged separately by different states hence separate GST registration will have to be completed for each state where your business operates. As more and more changes are expected to happen in the future, you need to stay updated in order to adhere to and benefit from the evolving GST regime.