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August 25, 2023

Understanding Offences and Penalties in GST: Your Guide to Compliance

Understanding Offences and Penalties in GST: Your Guide to Compliance

The CGST Act outlines the various violations related to GST and the corresponding penalties that apply. The stipulations regarding these offenses and the associated penalties are covered in the CGST Act, specifically from Section 122 to Section 128.

Offences in the Context of GST

Definition of Offence: An offence signifies a violation of established laws or regulations, representing an unlawful action. In the realm of Goods and Services Tax (GST), an offence involves contravening the stipulations laid out in the GST Act and its accompanying Rules.

Categories of Offences Under GST: The spectrum of offences under the GST framework encompasses a total of 21 distinct instances. To facilitate comprehension, these offences have been categorized as follows:

  • Fake or Incorrect Invoices:
  • Issuing goods/services without furnishing a valid invoice or generating a falsified invoice.
  • Violating GST provisions by producing an invoice or bill without an actual supply of goods/services.
  • Utilizing the identity of another legitimate taxable individual for issuing invoices.
  • Fraudulent Actions:
  • Neglecting the obligation to provide essential information mandated by the Act or providing fabricated information.
  • Engaging in the submission of counterfeit financial records, documents, or returns with the intent to evade taxes.
  • Concealing factual information or submitting false details during official proceedings.
  • Tax Evasion:
  • Collecting GST but failing to remit it to the government within a three-month period.
  • Despite contravening provisions, collecting GST and not remitting it to the government within the designated three-month timeframe constitutes an offence.
  • Obtaining CGST/SGST refund through fraudulent means.
  • Inappropriately claiming input tax credit without valid receipt of goods/services.
  • Deliberately suppressing sales to evade taxation.
  • Supply and Transportation of Goods:
  • Conveying goods devoid of proper documentation.
  • Supplying or transporting goods with the knowledge that they are liable to be confiscated.
  • Tampering with or destroying seized goods.
  • Miscellaneous Offences:
  • Failing to register under GST despite mandatory legal requirements.
  • Neglecting to deduct or deducting an insufficient amount of Tax Deducted at Source (TDS) where applicable.
  • Not collecting or collecting an insufficient amount of Tax Collected at Source (TCS) where applicable.
  • Engaging in the improper acceptance or distribution of input tax credit as an Input Service Distributor.
  • Obstructing the duties of an authorized officer in the execution of their responsibilities, such as during tax authority audits.
  • Failing to maintain the requisite set of books as mandated by law.
  • Tampering with or destroying vital pieces of evidence.

Infringement Determination:

 A person is deemed to have committed an offence under GST upon engaging in any of the aforementioned actions that fall within the defined categories. These actions represent a breach of the established regulations and may attract corresponding penalties and legal consequences.

Context of Penalties in GST:

Picture penalties like a punishment given when you break rules. In the world of GST, there are consequences when rules are broken, but the term “penalty” isn’t exactly defined in GST laws. Instead, we look at past decisions and legal principles to understand it.

Imagine a penalty as a way to make up for doing something wrong or not doing something you were supposed to do. It’s a bit like getting a fine or even facing some time in jail. Both money-related fines and even the possibility of going to jail can happen under GST.

So, in simpler words, penalties in GST are like a kind of punishment set by law for breaking the rules or not following duties. The punishment can be in the form of paying money or, in more serious cases, even facing legal actions.

Common Offences under GST and Their Penalties:

  1. Late GSTR Filing:
  2. If you’re late in filing, you pay Rs. 200/day (Rs. 100 each for CGST and SGST).
  3. The highest late fee is Rs. 5,000.
  4. But don’t worry, no late fee on IGST.
  • Not Filing GSTR:
  • Penalty: Either 10% of the tax due or Rs. 10,000 (whatever is more).
  • Doing Fraudulent Stuff:
  • Penalty: You pay 100% of the tax due or Rs. 10,000 (whichever is more).
  • If it’s a big fraud, you might even face jail time.
  • Helping with Fraud:
  • Penalty: Could go up to Rs. 25,000.
  • Using Ineligible Scheme:
  • If you wrongly use this scheme:
  • Fraud: You pay 100% of the tax due or Rs. 10,000 (whichever is more).
  • Not Fraud: You pay 10% of the tax due or Rs. 10,000 (whichever is more).
  • Remember, rules from sections 73 & 74 apply.
  • Charging Extra GST by Mistake:
  • If you charge more GST by mistake and don’t give it to the government, you’ll pay 100% of the tax due or Rs. 10,000 (whichever is more).
  • Forgetting to Make an Invoice:
  • Penalty: You pay 100% of the tax due or Rs. 10,000 (whichever is more).
  • Not Registering for GST:                                                  
  • Penalty: You pay 100% of the tax due or Rs. 10,000 (whichever is more).
  • Messing Up Invoices:
  • Penalty: You pay Rs. 25,000.

Remember, these penalties depend on the mistake you make under GST rules. It’s super important to know them so you can follow the rules and not get these penalties.

Situations where there is no penalty (but interest may apply):

  1. Charging Wrong GST Type (IGST instead of CGST/SGST):
  2. No punishment. Just pay the correct GST and get a refund for the wrong GST paid before.
  • Messing Up GST Return Filing:
  • No punishment. But you’ll need to pay interest at 18% on the amount you missed.
  • Delay in Paying an Invoice:
  • If you don’t pay within 6 months, your Input Tax Credit (ITC) will be taken back. There’s no direct penalty for this delay.
  • Charging Less GST Rate by Mistake:
  • You’ll pay interest at 18% on the difference you missed.

Understanding Penalties in GST:

Whenever a rule in GST is broken, there’s a penalty to be paid. These penalties are decided based on the law and its principles.

  1. Penalty for Serious Fraud:
  2. If someone purposely evades taxes or doesn’t pay what’s needed, they have to pay a penalty. It’s equal to the tax evaded or not paid, at least Rs. 10,000. For the 21 offences mentioned before, this penalty is 100% of the amount (minimum Rs. 10,000) for fraud cases.
  3. Penalty for Assisting Fraud:

Not just the person breaking the rule, even someone helping them will be penalized. The penalty can go up to Rs. 25,000.

This includes:

  • Helping someone commit fraud under GST.
  • Getting goods/services knowing they break GST rules.
  • Ignoring a summons from tax authorities.
  • Not making invoices as per GST rules.
  • Not properly accounting for invoices in the books.
  • Remember, penalties are in place to make sure everyone follows the rules and does things the right way.

Jail Time for Serious GST Offences:

Yes, there are jail punishments in GST for big fraud cases. Here’s how it works based on the tax amount involved:

  • If tax amount is 100-200 lakhs: Jail for up to 1 year.
  • If tax amount is 200-500 lakhs: Jail for up to 3 years.
  • If tax amount is above 500 lakhs: Jail for up to 5 years.

Along with jail time, there’s also a fine in all three cases. These punishments are given in addition to paying a monetary penalty. This shows how serious GST takes big frauds.

Penalty for Non-Fraudulent Cases:

  • If a person doesn’t pay taxes or pays less, they pay a penalty of 10% of the tax due, minimum Rs. 10,000.
  • Deliberate fraud results in a heavy penalty of 100% of the tax due.
  • For other non-fraud cases, the penalty is 10% of tax.

General Penalty:                                                                           

  • If a GST offence doesn’t specify a penalty, there’s a penalty of up to Rs. 25,000.

Small Mistakes:

  • Tiny mistakes (when tax is < Rs. 5000) or errors without fraud are easily fixable and generally don’t lead to big penalties.
  • Tax authorities may just give a warning.
  • This helps small businesses, especially SMEs, who might make honest errors, especially in the initial GST phase.

Penalty Rules:

  • These rules apply in various laws, not just in tax laws.
  • Before imposing a penalty, the person involved gets a notice and a chance to explain.
  • The tax authority explains why the penalty is given and what the offence is.
  • If someone admits their mistake, the tax authority might lessen the penalty based on that.
  • Understanding these rules can help businesses, particularly smaller ones, to navigate GST effectively.


In the realm of GST, knowing about offences and penalties is essential. From innocent errors to deliberate wrongdoings, the GST framework has rules for every situation. Penalties are not just random; they follow principles and aim for fairness. This system keeps the business environment transparent and discourages fraud. Remember, everyone facing penalties gets a chance to explain their side. By grasping these rules, businesses can navigate the GST world wisely, following the rules and avoiding unnecessary trouble.

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