One of the direct impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic and the resultant lockdown had been a significant drop in revenue for the government. The government has identified that one of the major reasons for delays in GST filing has been the requirement of a digital signature. As a relief measure, the government has allowed businesses to verify their GST return through EVC till June 30.
The Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs (CBIC) has issued a notification stating that during the period from April 21, 2020 to June 30, 2020, any registered person will be allowed to furnish the returns under section 39 in Form GSTR-3B, by verifying through an electronic verification code (EVC).
Until recently, while filing their monthly returns and paying taxes, businesses were required to digitally sign their form GSTR-3B. Businesses have been unable to generate digital signatures as a result of the lockdown, and this has led to delays in filing GST returns. In fact, the government has deferred the release of monthly GST revenue data on May 1 as the GST collections were extremely low.
To further aid filing of GST returns, the CBIC has introduced new rules under Central GST allowing for the filing of ‘Nil’ GST returns by using short messaging service (SMS) facility. This allows businesses with a nil return or that have no entries in their form GSTR-3B tables, to file their returns using SMS service from a registered mobile number. Returns filed in this manner will be verified by a One Time Password (OTP) sent to the registered mobile number.
These new facilities introduced by the CBIC also provide procedural relief to taxpayers and tax professionals who can now complete filing without the need to visit the office.
As a GST Taxpayer or Tax Professional, it is important to understand the different methods for authentication now available on the GST Portal. There are now three methods of authentication on the GST Portal. They are DSC (Digital Signature Certificate), Electronic Signature (E-Sign) and Electronic Verification Code (EVC).
Digital Signature Certificate (DSC)
A DSC is issued by an authorized DSC-issuing certifying authority and is used for signing documents digitally. There are different types of DSC available, and it is important to note that that the GST portal accepts only PAN based Class II and III DSC. For Companies and Limited Liability Partnerships, it is mandatory to use a DSC to file returns through the GST Portal.
To complete authentication using a DSC, the user must first register the DSC with the GST Portal. A DSC can be registered through the user login on the GST Portal.
Electronic Signature (E-Sign)
E-Sign is available on the GST Portal only for Aadhar holders in India. E-Sign facility can be availed for signing documents on the GST Portal through a One Time Password which is sent to the mobile number of the user, registered with Aadhar.
Electronic Verification Code (EVC)
EVC can be used by an individual who is registered as an authorized user on the GST Portal. When this method is selected, a One Time Password, also known as an EVC, is sent to the registered users mobile and can be used for authentication on the GST Portal.
Regardless of the method of authentication you choose, you must file your gst annual return within the stipulated dates. You can file your returns through the GST Portal. Incidentally, you can also use the GST Portal to understand the gst number format. This will give you a better understanding of the GSTN.