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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 Updates

Updates as on 1st May 2021

The due date to file GSTR-1 for April 2021 is extended from 11th May 2021 to 26th May 2021. 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.

Updates as on 22nd December 2020

1. Rule 21 Amended: If the outward supplies reported in Form GSTR-1 are in excess of the outward supplies reported in the GSTR-3B for the said tax period, the GSTIN can be cancelled.

2. Rule 21A(2A) Inserted: If there are significant differences in outward supplies between GSTR-3B & 1, or inward supplies between GSTR-3B & 2B, in contravention of Act/Rules, the said taxpayer’s GSTIN could be suspended

3. Rule 59(5) Inserted: The GSTR-1 for the current tax period cannot be filed or the IFF cannot be used if:

a) The GSTR-3B was not filed for the preceding two months in case of monthly GSTR-1 filers

b) GSTR-3B was not filed for the preceding tax period in case of quarterly GSTR-1 filers, or in cases where Rule 86B is violated

4. Rule 138E Amended: Now, e-way bills cannot be generated if the GST registration has been suspended on account of the taxpayer’s GSTIN liable for cancellation under sub-rule (2) of Rule 21A or on account of significant differences/ anomalies between the GSTR-3B & 1/2B

Update as on 15th October 2020

The CBIC has notified the due dates for furnishing GSTR-1 from October 2020 to March 2021:

For businesses with turnover Month/Quarter Due Date
More than Rs.1.5 crore October 11th November 2020
  November 11th December 2020
  December 11th January 2021
  January 11th February 2021
  February 11th March 2021
  March 11th April 2021
Turnover up to Rs.1.5 crore Oct-Dec 2020 13th January 2021
  Jan-Mar 2021 13th April 2021

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 message Solution/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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