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The GST (Goods and Services Tax) is an indirect tax system that has replaced most of the previous state taxes that were prevailing for the supply of goods and services in India. Since GST brings under its ambit a majority of goods and services, it becomes important for individual sellers and service providers to register themselves under the GST regime and obtain their Goods and Services Tax Identification Number or GSTIN.
But even though the GST regime aims to benefit both consumers and business entities alike, there are a few entities that are involved in foul play and fraudulent activities. Thus, by searching and verifying a GST number online, individuals can be assured of authenticity and security while transacting in goods and/or services.
GSTIN or Goods and Services Identification Number is a unique 15-digit PAN-based identification number that is allotted to every citizen of India who is registered under the Goods and Services Tax regime. The GSTIN replaces all previously existing Tax Identification Numbers (TIN) which were allotted to the businesses by respective state tax authorities under the Value Added Tax regime.
A GSTIN is mandatory for any businesses with an annual turnover exceeding Rs.20 lakh.
The Goods and Services Identification Number or GST number is made available as public information. Thus a GSTIN verification is an important step that every business organization and individual must carry out to make sure that the vendor they are dealing with is genuine and authentic.
“With the government pushing the idea of one nation, one Tax, it is time that the Indian business structure undergoes a positive change. And with the implementation and integration of the Goods and Services Tax in our economy, things have started going uphill. With the benefits offered by GST and a simple and convenient registration process, GST is truly the new era of business,” says Advocate Puneet Sharma.
The picture above represents what a typical GSTIN looks like. Following is the detailed break-down of a GSTIN:
The first two digits represent the code of the state as assigned by the Census of India conducted in 2011.
The next ten digits represent the PAN number of the taxpayer or business organization/ entity associated with the GST regime.
The thirteenth digit represents the number of registrations in a state associated with the same PAN card.
The fourteenth digit is an alphabet ‘Z’ by default in every GSTIN.
The last digit of a GSTIN is a check code to detect errors.
For registered taxpayers
If you are a registered taxpayer under the GST regime, then you can find your GST registration number on your GST Registration Certificate, which can be downloaded by following the simple steps mentioned below. It should be noted that the GST Certificate can be downloaded from the online GST Portal only since there is no physical copy of the certificate issued by the government.
Step 1: Visit the official GST portal at https://www.gst.gov.in/ and log in.
Step 2: Hover on to Services and then to User Services. There you will find an option of “View/Download Certificates”. Click on it to download your GST Certificate.
Step 3: You will then see “Form REG-06”. Download the form by clicking on the download sign.
The GST Registration form you just downloaded will contain the GST Number (GSTIN) along with the relevant details of the business.
For individual buyers and consumers
Since the GST law requires businesses to quote and/or display their GSTIN on invoices, e-way bills, returns, and places of business. A consumer can find the GSTIN of any business entity on any one of the above-mentioned places and/or documents.
With a lot of foul play and fake GSTIN numbers in circulation, there can be chances of your GSTIN being duplicated elsewhere. There are also cases where fake GSTIN are being used by business entities to secure the benefits of the GST regime without registering under the same. The Government of India has however launched the facility of Online GSTIN search and verification through a simple, fast and reliable tool available on the Official Website (https://www.gst.gov.in/) of Goods and Services Tax under the “Search Taxpayer” option.
The online tool can be used for easy verification and authenticity of the GSTIN number. With online verification, you can identify businesses that use fake GSTINs and thereby avoid fraud. The tool can also be used by business entities for the correction of any potential errors while GSTIN registration.
The facility allows users to search and verify their GSTIN via PAN or GSTIN/UID in a fast and reliable way.
Since GSTIN records are public information, the general public can easily search and verify GSTIN online. With the GST Number provided by a prospective vendor, you can verify the name, address, etc. as per the GST registration records.
Though a lot of websites offer the facility to check GSTIN, one should check the same via the reliable and official website of the Goods and Services Tax.
To overcome and tackle foul play and to enhance trust among businesses across the country, the GST number can be searched or verified by the following steps:
Step 1: Visit the official website of GST at https://services.gst.gov.in/services/searchtp.
Step 2: Click on the ‘Search Taxpayer Menu’ and simply enter the GSTIN/UID you want to verify and click on search.
Step 3: Once the relevant GSTIN/UID is entered all the relevant information such as the legal name of the business, registered state and date, the constitution of business, taxpayer type and GSTIN status / UIN status will be displayed.
The GST Regime aims to make the tax laws in India more efficient to benefit both consumers and business entities, however, some entities involve themselves in foul play and fraudulent activities. There are as many as 21 offences that the GST Act recognizes and punishes. Some of these include:
Fraud while or after registration or during the conduct of business
Supply/transport of goods without proper GSTIN documentation
Non-registration under GST when required by the law
Those who commit fraudulent activities intentionally shall be liable to pay a 100% penalty, i.e. an amount equivalent to the amount of fraud, subject to a minimum of Rs. 10,000/-. Where there is no relevant intent, then the penalty shall be 10%, subject to a minimum of Rs. 10,000/-.
In case of serious offences of fraud by misuse of GSTIN, in such manner that the amount of tax involved is up to Rs. 50 lakhs, then the offender has to serve a jail term of 1 year plus a penalty. When the amount ranges between Rs. 50 lakhs to 100 lakhs, then jail term shall be three years plus a penalty, while in cases where the amount exceeds Rs. 1 Crore, then jail term shall be up to 5 years plus a penalty.
Time and again there have been reports of the GST-Intelligence unit busting rackets of misuse of the GSTIN to make fake bills and claim an input tax credit. Therefore whenever you are dealing with an entity registered under the GST regime, you must verify its details online to avoid the fraud.
Since an act without a redressal mechanism is worthless, individuals who become a victim of GST fraud can report their complaint by the three following ways.
1. To lodge a complaint visit https://cbic-gst.gov.in/report-tax-fraud.html, fill in your details along with a report of the fraudulent misconduct you experienced directly to the CBIC.
2. A complaint can also be lodged via telephone by calling on 011-26174191. Users can also write their complaint and send it via email firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. While complaining, make sure that your mail contains all the details including supporting documents if any.
The online facility to verify GSTIN number also allows users to verify GSTIN via PAN number
To do so, visit https://services.gst.gov.in/services/searchtpbypan and fill in the PAN number associated with the GSTIN and click search.
The associated Pan Number would then display all the relevant information such as the legal name of the business, registered state and date, the constitution of the business, taxpayer type and GSTIN status / UIN status.
In case the business/individual is not registered under the GST Regime, a message, no records found’ will be displayed on the screen and the search result would end without any relevant information.
“I believe that the implementation of the GST Act and the very act itself is a historic piece of legislation. With a long history behind it, the GST Act not only aims to push forth the idea of one nation, one tax but also strengthen the tax system in India to benefit goods and service providers as well as consumers. With GST now well integrated throughout India, individuals can reap the fruits of this beneficial legislation and enter a phase of business growth and development,” comments Advocate Puneet Sharma.
How to get GSTIN?
A GSTIN can be obtained free of cost by registering under the GST regime. Registration can be done in any of the following ways:
Registration by using the GST online portal facility
Registration by visiting your nearest GST Seva Kendra set up by the Government of India
It is mandatory to submit Form GST REG-01 along with the required documents either online/offline. After an officer performs verification, GSTIN will be allocated to you.
What does a GSTIN contain?
As explained earlier, the picture above represents how a typical GSTIN looks like.
The first two digits: the code of the state as assigned by the Census of India conducted in 2011.
The next ten digits: the PAN number of the taxpayer or business organization/entity associated with the GST regime.
The thirteenth digit: the number of registrations in a state associated with the same PAN card.
The fourteenth digit: an alphabet ‘Z’ by default.
The last digit: a check code to detect errors.
What are the uses of GSTIN?
Since the GST law also requires businesses to quote and/or display their GSTIN on invoices, e-way bills, returns, and places of business, obtaining a GSTIN becomes compulsory for any business with an annual turnover exceeding Rs.20 lakh.
By registering under the GST regime and obtaining a valid GSTIN, an individual goods or services provider can become a legally recognized supplier. Moreover, with a valid GSTIN, any business entity is legally authorized to collect tax from their customers and/or purchasers and file for tax returns and other benefits under the GST law.
What is the use of verifying GSTIN?
With a lot of foul play and fake GSTIN in circulation, there can be chances that your GSTIN is also being duplicated elsewhere. Also, in some cases, the fake GSTIN is being used by business entities to secure the benefits of the GST Regime without registering under the same. The online tool available at https://services.gst.gov.in/services/searchtp can be used to check for the authenticity of the GSTIN. With the online verification of GSTIN, one can be assured of the protection against any vendors using fake GSTINs and thereby avoiding fraud. The tool can also be used by business entities for the correction of any potential errors made while GSTIN registration.