Invoice is very important document that is why rules related to invoices set requisite particulars which need to be mentioned on invoice and such invoice can also contain other information or particulars which will be in addition to requisite particulars as required by rules.
Rules 46 of CGST Rules, 2017 talks about particulars to be mentioned on tax invoice but in this article we will discuss only requirement related to tax invoice number only.
Clause (b) of Rule 46 of CGST Rules, 2017
a consecutive serial number not exceeding sixteen characters, in one or multiple series, containing alphabets or numerals or special characters- hyphen or dash and slash symbolised as “-“ and “/” respectively, and any combination thereof, unique for a financial year.
(Refer rule 46 of CGST Rules, 2017, though I have mentioned only clause (b) of rule 46)
Analysis of clause (b) of Rule 46
Consecutive serial number is captured by the GSTR-1 where supplier has to provide serial numbers of tax invoice issued in particular tax period (quarterly or monthly as the case may be) and where supplier has cancelled few tax invoices for any reason like wrong details of recipient, billing of item which is not in stock, preparation of tax invoice after receipt of order but subsequently customer cancelled the order etc) then in such cases supplier has to provide total tax invoices issued including number of cancelled invoices which is separately mentioned in GSTR-1 and serial number of invoice must not exceed 16 character i.e. serial number can contain alphabets, numbers, /, -, or any combination thereof and for each financial year such serial number shall be unique.
In simple words supplier can use alphabets, numerics, special character only two i.e. – (hyphen or dash) and / (slash) so supplier cannot use *, #, @ etc. as special character. Supplier can have tax invoice having only alphabets as serial number (generally this does not happen because numeric is issued to easily identify numbers of invoices), only numerics (practically, number of suppliers use only numeric as their invoice serial number), combination of alphabet &/or numeric &/ or special character i.e. – and / only.
Now take a case where supplier has issued tax invoices in FY 19-20 from serial number 1 to 555 and now question arises can he issue tax invoice 556 onward in FY 20-21 and will it constitute unique for FY 20-21. Answer to this question is yes 556 and subsequent tax invoice numbers will be unique for FY 20-21 because these invoice numbers have not been issued in any earlier financial year.
Q. Can Supplier have multiple series for tax invoice number for multiple customers or recipient ?
Ans. Supplier can have different series of tax invoice number depending on various factors like online customer or offline customer, having multiple location of business place, product segment wise, B2B and B2C customer wise etc. or supplier can have single series of tax invoice numbers for his business it is upto supplier what he wishes to choose.
Q. Can Supplier change invoice series depending upon different months?
Ans. Yes, supplier can change his tax invoice numbers depending upon different months.
Supplier uses serial number April/01/21-22 to April/50/21-22 for all the tax invoices issued in April 2021 and now in May supplier issued tax invoices containing serial numbers May/01/21-22 to May/80/21-22 for all the supplies in month of May 2021
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