There have been cases of business owners using fake GST numbers to make extra income and not exactly paying off these charges to the government. These businesses are usually small-scale and use these tactics to avoid taxes, or for some, it might seem like an extra source of income.
What is a GSTIN?
Let us understand GSTIN to be able to spot a fake one.
The Goods and Services Tax Identification Number (GSTIN) is a 15 digit unique identification code that had replaced TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number) when GST was introduced.
The first two digits are the state code. The next ten digits are the PAN of the business entity. The 13th digit is the number of registrations (with the same PAN) that business entity has in that state. The 14th will be 'Z' by default and the 15th would be check code used for detection of errors. The 13th entry could also be an alphabet, because it is numeric up to 9 and the ten registration starts with 'A.' So, if the entity has 15 registrations in the same state, it should say 'F'. Thus, an entity can register within a single state for a maximum of 35 times.
How to verify the GST number on the bill?
- You should be able to find an identification number on the bill beginning with the alphabets "GST."
- Note down this number.
- Go to https://services.gst.gov.in/services/searchtp
- Enter the number in the box.
- Enter Captcha and hit submit.
- The registered name of the business will be displayed under "Legal Name of Business."
Newly registered businesses may not have GSTIN confirmed but will have a provisional ID. You can use that ID and check it on the link below.
You will be required to fill details like state, ID type (provisional ID or PAN or GST number), ID number and a Captcha. On clicking submit, you should be able to see the name of the entity.
How to report a fake GST Number?
Note that once registered, the business entity will have to print their GSTIN or Provisional ID on the bill. You cannot be charged GST without it.
You can report the fake registration over e-mail. You can also call the dedicated GST helplines for any queries.
GST complain e-mail ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
GST Helpline Number: 0124-4688999 or 0120-4888999