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Guide to file a Nil GSTR1 via SMS

Updated on :  

08 min read.

Nil GSTR-1 can be filed through an SMS from the registered mobile number of the taxpayer from 1st July 2020 onwards. Every GST registered normal taxpayer must file a nil GSTR-1 even if no business activity occurs for a tax period. It also covers casual taxable persons, SEZ units and developers. Businesses can henceforth file a nil GSTR-1 either online on the GST portal or by sending an SMS from a registered mobile number.

Latest Update

21st December 2021
(1) From 1st January 2022, taxpayers cannot file GSTR-1 if the previous period’s GSTR-3B was not filed.
(2) From 1st January 2022, the GST officers can initiate recovery proceedings without any show-cause notice against taxpayers who under-report sales in GSTR-3B compared to GSTR-1.

29th August 2021
Company taxpayers can continue filing GSTR-1 and GSTR-3B using EVC or DSC up to 31st October 2021 via the CGST notification number 32/2021 dated 29th August 2021.

26th August 2021
From 1st September 2021, taxpayers will not be able to file GSTR-1 or use the IFF for August 2021 on the GST portal if they have pending GSTR-3B filings. It applies if GSTR-3B is pending for the past two months till July 2021 (monthly filer) or for the last quarter ending 30th June 2021 (quarterly filer) as per CGST Rule 59(6).

28th May 2021
The GST Council recommended in its 43rd meeting the following: 
(1) The monthly filing of GSTR-1 for May 2021 will be extended from 11th June 2021 to 26th June 2021.
(2) Filing of B2B sales invoices in IFF by QRMP taxpayers for May 2021 is extended from 13th June 2021 to 28th June 2021.
(3) Companies that are GST taxpayers have been given permission to authenticate returns using EVC instead of digital signature up to 31st August 2021.

(4) Late fee has been rationalised for future tax periods as follows:
(i) If the annual turnover in the previous financial year is up to Rs.1.5 crore then the late fee of a maximum of Rs.2,000 per return can only be charged (i.e Rs.1000 each for CGST and SGST).
(ii) If the turnover ranges between Rs.1.5 crore and Rs.5 crore then the maximum late fee of Rs.5,000 per return can only be charged (i.e Rs. 2500 each for CGST and SGST).
(iii) If the turnover is more than Rs.5 crore then a late fee of a maximum of Rs.10,000 (i.e Rs. 5000 per CGST and SGST) can be charged.

1st May 2021
(1) The due date to file GSTR-1 for April 2021 is extended from 11th May 2021 to 26th May 2021.
(2) The time limit to furnish B2B supplies on the IFF (optional facility), for April 2021 has been extended from 13th May to 28th May 2021.

9th January 2021
If a taxpayer with an annual aggregate turnover of Rs.5 crore does not opt into the QRMP scheme, he will be considered as a monthly filer of GSTR-1 and GSTR-3B from the January 2021 tax period onwards. Hence the due date for GSTR-1 shall be the 11th of next month and GSTR-3B shall be the 20th of next month.

What is a nil GSTR-1?

GSTR-1 will be termed as a nil return for a particular tax period (a month or quarter) if the following conditions are satisfied:

  • No outward supplies or sales recorded
  • There are no supplies on which tax is to be charged on a reverse charge basis
  • No zero-rated supplies or deemed exports are reported
  • There are no amendments to be carried out for earlier tax periods
  • No credit notes or debit notes to be declared or amended
  • No instances of advances received for services to be declared or adjusted

How was the nil return filing done before?

Earlier, a nil GSTR-1 could be filed only by logging into the GST portal and navigating to ‘GSTR-1’ on the return dashboard. A set of questions are asked at the beginning that decide what tables are to be made available for declaring GSTR-1 details. The user has to select ‘Yes’ against the question ‘Do you want to file a Nil return?’. The facility continues to exist but the process is relatively time-consuming and involves numerous steps.  

When can a nil GSTR-1 be filed using SMS?

Nil GSTR-1 can be filed after 1st of the month following the tax period (month/quarter). For April 2020, nil return can be filed only on or after 1st May 2020 and for Q1 of FY 2020-21, nil return can be filed only on or after 1st July 2020. Any attempt to file before this timeline will lead to an error.

While sending an SMS, a monthly filer can mention the relevant filing month or return period in “MMYYYY” format. Whereas a quarterly filer must mention the last month of the quarter, for instance, June 2020 for April-June 2020 quarter is typed as “O62020” while sending out the SMS.  

Steps to file nil GSTR-1 through SMS

Before knowing the steps, the prerequisites/instructions for filing a nil GSTR-1 using SMS are as follows:

  • Business must register its authorised signatory and his/her phone number on the GST portal.
  • All authorised representatives for a particular GSTIN can file nil GSTR-1 through SMS.
  • Each of the authorised representatives under the GSTIN must have a unique mobile number for SMS filing. If not, then every authorised representative must update the mobile number by following the non-core amendment procedure of GST registration.
  • The GSTR-1 data must not be in the “saved” stage on the online GST portal. If so, the user must delete before using the SMS facility.
  • One mobile number can be used to file nil GSTR-1 for multiple GST Identification numbers (GSTIN).
  • The SMS is not case-sensitive.
  • Three attempts will be made available for a GSTIN to file a nil GSTR-1. Any continuous failure by the user will result in blocking of that particular combination of mobile number and GSTIN gets for the next 24 hours. Similarly, 50 attempts will be allowed for a registered mobile number for filing nil returns of any GSTIN in a day. Any continuous failure will result in blocking of that mobile number for the next 24 hours. However, the user can continue filing nil return on the GST portal.

Steps to file a nil GSTR-1 via SMS are as follows

Step 1: The user must send a text message or SMS to 14409 on the registered mobile number by typing ‘NIL(space)R1(space)GSTIN(space)Tax period in MMYYYY’ to first activate the SMS facility. Examples for sending this SMS are given below:

  • Monthly GSTR-1 for April 2020 must type ‘NIL R1 09AGBPS5577MSZC 042020’
  • Quarterly GSTR-1 for Apr-Jun 2020 quarter must type ‘NIL R1 07AQDPP8277H8Z6 062020’

A six-digit verification code will be received as SMS on the same mobile number and remain valid up to thirty minutes.

Step 2: User has to use the above code and confirm the nil GSTR-1 filing by sending SMS to 14409 as follows: ‘CNF(space)R1(space)Code’. This step should be completed within thirty minutes of receiving the verification code.

For example, CNF R1 342917. Thereafter, the nil GSTR-1 will be filed after due validation by the GSTN, and the user will get back an Application Reference Number (ARN) via SMS and on the registered email ID of the primary authorised signatory. The status of filing GSTR-1 for the particular tax period gets updated as ‘Filed’.  

Assistance from GSTN

If the user needs help with the nil GSTR-1 filing via SMS, he/she can type ‘HELP(space)R1’ from the registered mobile number.  

Common errors when filing nil GSTR-1 via SMS & solutions

Error messageSolution/Action
“Invalid input.”Resend SMS by ensuring that “NIL, CNF or HELP” is used in the correct format.
“Request failed. Incorrect message format.”   or   “Request failed. Incorrect return type.”   or    “Request failed. Invalid GSTIN. Please retry registered GSTIN.”Resend SMS by cross-checking the usage of registered GSTIN, return period or return type in the standard format.
“Request failed. Mobile number not registered for <GSTIN>.”   or   “Request failed. Same mobile number is registered for multiple signatories of <GSTIN>.”Register a unique mobile number for a particular GSTIN on the GST portal. In case the same mobile number was registered for multiple signatories of the same GSTIN, make a suitable non-core amendment.
“Request failed. The incorrect format or Code Mismatch.”Resend SMS in the standard format and with the correct validation code.
“Request failed. GSTR1 for requested tax period <Tax period in MMYYYY> is already submitted/filed for <GSTIN>.”Nil GSTR-1 cannot be filed through SMS for that particular return period since it is already filled for the requested period.
“Request failed. Invalid or expired Code.” when either the code had expired or the user had skipped initiate filing (step-1).Ensure that step-1 is followed before coming to step-2 and complete step-2 within 30 minutes of receiving the code.
“Request failed. Incorrect form type” received when an attempt to file nil GSTR-3B instead of nil GSTR-1.Resend SMS using the right form type “R1”.
“Request failed. Quarterly taxpayers to file a return for the third month of the quarter. Retry as: To file NIL R1 for Q1 2020: NIL R1 07CQZCD1111I4Z7 032020 Send to 14409.”A quarterly filer of GSTR-1 must file by mentioning the last month of the quarter in “mmyyyy” format.
“Taxpayer <GSTIN> has not selected return filing frequency for the financial year.”Login to the GST portal to select the filing frequency for the relevant financial year pertaining to the tax period for which the SMS request was attempted.
“Request failed. <GSTIN> is not a regular taxpayer during the requested tax period. Please retry with another GSTIN or tax period.”Cross-check on the GST portal if the GSTIN is a normal taxpayer or not for the particular tax period. If the GSTIN was not a normal taxpayer that period, then the user can file nil GSTR-1 for any other period in which that GSTIN was a normal taxpayer.
“Request failed. <GSTIN> was cancelled prior to requested tax period <MMYYYY>. Please retry with another GSTIN or tax period.”   or    “Request failed. Requested tax period <MMYYYY> is prior to the date of registration for <GSTIN>. Please retry with another GSTIN or tax period.”Nil GSTR-1 for tax periods when GSTIN was active is only allowed.   A user cannot file a return via SMS for a tax period where the GSTIN’s registration was cancelled or not obtained at all.  
“Request failed. Please activate your User ID on GST portal. Retry as below: To file NIL R1 of GSTIN for Mar 2020: NIL R1 07CQZCD1111I4Z7 032020 Send to 14409.”Ensure that the user ID is activated for that particular GSTIN on the GST portal in case return is being filed for the first time or reactivated in case there is a change in authorised signatory.
“Request failed. 11AAAAA1111A1ZA not eligible to file nil return for tax period 0402020 via SMS. Please continue return filing on the”Cross-check the eligibility to file nil GSTR-1 via SMS
“Request failed. Saved data exist for tax period 042020 for 11AAAAA1111A1ZA. Please continue return filing on”Since the message indicates that some data is already saved on the GST portal, continue to file online on GST portal.
“Please confirm the Nil filing using code received. In case of non-receipt of code please try again after 5 min.”Wait for 5 minutes before resending another request for generation of code.

How to track the status of a filed nil GSTR-1 return?

In order to track the status of filing of a nil GSTR-1 return, the taxpayer can follow the common steps for any taxpayer and use the ARN received by navigating to ‘Services’ > ‘Returns’ > select ‘Track Return Status’ option after logging on the GST portal.

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