Touted as one of the biggest financial reforms of India, the transition to the Goods and Service Tax (GST) has been a daunting task. This is especially true in case of revamped invoice structure and increased tax burden. In light of the ascending number of complaints by the customers against inauthentic and fake bills, it is important for the customer to master the tricks of spotting a fake GST bill.
Here are the four ways on how you can avoid yourself from getting deluded by the shopkeepers who charge inappropriate taxes to inflate the prices of the products.
Step 1: Who can charge GST?
Not every business owner can charge GST to their clients. Here are the criteria for applying to the GST number:
- Businesses marking an aggregate turnover of INR 20 lakhs in a financial year (INR 10 Lakhs for few special states such as Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura)
- If the business was registered for VAT/Service Tax
- In case of supply of goods/services to other states
- Input service distributors and e-commerce operators
Businesses not falling under any of the above criteria can still apply for GST on a voluntary basis.
If GST number is not mentioned in the bill, customers should not pay the taxes. There have been few reported cases where the business owners are duping their clients by using old invoices carrying VAT/Service Tax/TIN but still charging GST to their clients. If the business is charging GST and carrying the GSTIN, then it is mandatory to show the break-up of Central GST (CGST) and State GST (SGST).
Provisional GST number
There are cases where business owners charge GST without mentioning GSTIN on the grounds that the registration is not yet confirmed. Do not get duped by such tactics. It is mandatory to mention the provisional GST number as it is same as the final GSTIN number.
Step 2: Getting familiar with the GST number
The GSTIN constitutes 15 digits and this is standard for all the states in the country.
For example, the state code for Jammu & Kashmir is 1, 7 for Delhi, 8 for Rajasthan, 24 for Gujarat, 27 for Maharashtra and so on.
Step 3: Verifying the number
One can log in https://www.gst.gov.in to check the status of the GSTIN. Click on the 'search taxpayer' drop-down, and select 'search by GSTIN/UIN.'
If the GSTIN entered in incorrect, following message will pop-up:
"The GSTIN/UIN that you have entered is invalid. Please enter a valid GSTIN/UIN."
If the GSTIN entered is correct, the following information will be displayed:
- Legal Name of Business
- State and Centre Jurisdiction
- Taxpayer Type
- GSTIN / UIN Status
- Date of Registration
- Constitution of Business
Active pending verification
In case of the provisional ID, the portal will display the message 'Active pending verification.' This signifies that it is the valid number as it conveys that the business/shop owner has applied for the GST number but the verification is still incomplete.
Please note: that one can check the validity of the GST number only on the basis of its provisional ID or PAN number. It is not possible to verify the GST number by entering the name of the business.
Step 4: Be a whistle-blower
Many customers lack awareness and hence get cheated by the business owners. However, there are few who raise their voices against the malpractices by the business owner. Reporting such malicious acts can bring respite to other customers as well. To complain, you can always contact on the following helplines dedicated by the GST Division.
GST Complaint mail id: firstname.lastname@example.org
GST Helpline Number: 0124-4688999 or 0120-4888999