FAQ on the GST in India

Last updated on 07 November, 2019

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What is e-invoicing?

An e-invoice, or electronic invoice, is a digital document exchanged between a supplier and buyer. E-invoicing is the proposed system where business-to-business (B2B) invoices are prepared in a standard format and authenticated by the Goods and Services Tax Network (GSTN). This is to ensure that a common format is followed across all businesses so that invoices can be uploaded to the GST portal.

According to the electronic invoicing system proposed by the GST Council, the Invoice Registration Portal (IRP) will issue an identification number for every invoice generated by a business. These invoices will be managed by the GSTN. All the details available on an invoice will be moved in real time from the IRP to the GST and e-way bill portal. This will eliminate the need for entering data manually while filing returns. 

Why is a standard e-invoicing system important?

Tax departments internationally are keen on making the e-invoicing system a success for two reasons: 1) following a standard format allows invoices to be easily shared and 2) it can be read by the central system.

It will pre-populate fields while filing returns, avoiding discrepancies during data entry and reconciliation. 

When will the e-invoice system be implemented?

The government proposes that the e-invoice system will be implemented from January 1, 2020 in phases. It will initially be made available by the government for trial.  

What is the government’s e-invoice initiative all about?

The government shared a draft of an e-invoice format in an excel sheet for public feedback in August 2019. The draft was later approved by the GST council with a few changes so it was compliant to Indian tax laws and GST norms. This format will help in standardising the format across all industries. 

The e-invoice format primarily contains three parts:

  • The e-invoice schema contains a list of technical field names, their descriptions, and a few other values with notes. It also specifies whether a field is mandatory or not.

  • Masters will inform you about the inputs for specific fields as defined by the GSTN, like state code, invoice type, supply type, etc. 

  • The e-invoice template has been designed in compliance with GST rules. The mandatory fields are highlighted in green while optional ones are in yellow. 

What are the benefits of introducing an e-invoice in our tax system?

Generating an e-invoice is usually the responsibility of a taxpayer who reports to the IRP in GST. Next, the IRP will generate a unique Invoice Reference Number (IRN) and a QR code. This digitally signed document will be sent to the taxpayer and the recipient.

Here are some benefits for businesses if e-invoicing comes into play: 

  1. E-invoicing solves the issue of data reconciliation, allows interoperability, and helps to eliminate errors during manual data entry.

  2. You can track the e-invoices, prepared by the suppliers, in real-time. This is possible only when the supplier has enabled the specific permission. 

  3. An e-invoice system will make the process of filing tax returns easier. The details from the e-invoice will be auto-populated on tax return forms and while generating e-way bills.

  4. Frequent audits or surveys are unnecessary because all transaction details will be made available. The value of input credit and output tax can be matched by the system.

  5. Upon receiving a receipt of purchase via the GST system, the buyer can compare it with their purchase order and accept/reject the information under new returns.

  6. This initiative will also build efficiency within the tax administration by helping to identify fake invoices.

What documents are required while reporting to the GST system?

In addition to documents required by law, the creator of the invoice must also submit the following documents by the supplier to the IRP:

  • Invoice
  • Credit note
  • Debit note
Will invoices be generated directly from the government’s tax portal?

No. Taxpayers will have to generate invoices using accounting or billing software. Small taxpayers have the option of choosing from one of the eight free accounting software available on the government’s website. 

Is the e-invoicing system being used in any other countries?

There are several other countries across the globe that have implemented the e-invoice system. The list of countries include South Korea, Brazil, parts of Latin America and Europe.

Will the invoice formats differ for traders, health care facilities, and contractors?

There is a standard invoice schema to be followed by all businesses. The form has the option to select from a range of mandatory and non-mandatory fields, which are likely to vary from business to business. 

How long will the generated e-invoice be available in the government portal?

Once the invoice registration system has validated and registered an invoice, it will be made available to the taxpayer in GST ANX-1. The counter party can also access it from ANX-2. Both the parties can refer to these documents for one financial year, after which it will be archived. It will be available for reference on IRP for only 24 hours.

How will e-invoice help in controlling tax frauds?

The e-invoicing system will curb tax frauds in the following ways: 

  1. With the implementation of e-invoicing, tax authorities will have access to all their transactions as they have to be uploaded on the GST portal. 

  2. Manipulating invoices will not be easy as they will have to be generated before the transaction takes place. 

  3. The system will allow you to spot fake invoices easily by matching the input tax credit with the output tax details on the GSTN portal.