FREE TOOLS FOR GENERATING E-INVOICES FOR SMALL TAXPAYERS
To ensure that businesses get enough time to adapt to the new system of electronic invoicing, the GST Council has approved the introduction of e-invoicing in a phased manner
- For businesses with a turnover of ₹500 crores and more, e-invoice is already introduced from 1st October 2020.
- For businesses with a turnover of ₹100 crores and more, it is applicable from 1st January 2021.
- For businesses with a turnover of ₹50 crores and more, e-invoicing is applicable from 1st April 2021.
- For businesses with a turnover of ₹20 crores and more, e-invoicing is applicable from 1st April 2022.
The government has issued Notification No. 01/2022 – CT reducing the turnover criteria to determine the applicability of E-invoicing from the present Rs. 50 crores to Rs. 20 crores. The same will be applicable from 01.04.2022.
E-Invoicing only applies to Business-to-Business (B2B) transactions. Notified taxpayers with an annual aggregate turnover falling in the above turnover range in any previous financial year between 2017-18 to 2021-22 must comply with the system.
The fourth phase of e-invoicing may be challenging as it covers more than 1,80,000 small businesses. MSMEs have smaller teams controlling most of the business operations. They find it sufficient to ensure compliance and issue e-invoices to their customers on time while not exploring options to automate or improve business operations
E-invoice has been enabled for taxpayers with an annual TO of 10 Crore rupees w.e.f 01-10-2022. It is expected that the system will be enabled for remaining taxpayers in a phased manner. From January 2023, the expected turnover limit is 5 Cr per annum.
Therefore it is essential to use free offline and online tools for generating an e-Invoice i.e Invoice Reference Number (IRN) – a 64-character long key.
Along with an IRN, an ‘acknowledgment’ number (ACK) with 16 digits and the date of generation of the IRN will be included in the QR code generated. The taxpayer has to either take a printout of the e-Invoice or include the details of the QR code, and ACK number in their supply invoice, debit note, or credit note.
Common methods to generate e-Invoice i.e. IRN Following are the common methods to generate e-Invoice i.e. IRN for the supplies made by the taxpayer.
1. Direct API integration with taxpayer’s software
Direct integration is the easiest method for generating e-Invoice. Through this process, the taxpayer’s own accounting/inventory software directly interacts with the IRN portal through the API provided by National Informatic Centre (NIC) Bengaluru and instantly generates an e-Invoice at the time of generating supply invoice, and credit/debit notes. But this facility is limited to taxpayers with a turnover of 100 crores due to server restrictions.
2. GSP and ERP software
One of the important methods to generate e-invoice is the GSTP (GST Suvidha Provider) or ERP-based software. Such software has inbuilt API integration with e-Invoice portal. The user can generate supply invoices through this software and the IRN will be generated automatically. The same can be embossed in the invoice without any hassle. However most of the small taxpayers can’t afford the cost of ERP/GSP software. For such taxpayers, there are other ways to generate software or tools as detailed below.
3. GePP Tools and Bulk IRN generation tools
These tools are developed by NIC Bengaluru itself, which are the creator of the e-Invoice portal. These tools are intended to be used by small taxpayers, who have no bulk number of invoices to generate IRN. The greatest advantage of these tools is, it is free to use. No cost for the generation of IRN. Some of the GSP or ERP providers charge a certain amount from the taxpayer for using their API facility for the generation of IRN through their software. But these tools are absolutely free and easy to use. These tools can be accessed by going to the e-Invoice portal , then clicking the menu “Help “ > “Tools” > “BulkGenerationTools”.
3.1 GePP-On – Online web-based e-Invoice generating software This is just like e-waybill online software.
Taxpayer logins to the web-based GePP Online tool using the credentials of the e-Invoice portal. The link for the Gepp-On online web tool is given below. An OTP verification is required for login. After login to the tool, the user can enter data related to their supply invoice. Then download the e-Invoice- The user can also take the printout of the e-Invoice with IRN, IRN embedded QR code, ACK No, and date of submission.
The major advantage of the GePP-On, an online web-based e-Invoice tool is that it can be used both in PC / laptop as well as mobile. The tool can be easily accessed through internet browsers like Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, etc. with their latest updated version. In the same way, it can also be worked in mobile versions of those browsers without any hassle. Therefore the taxpayer or the concerned staff can access the tool at any time, outside of his/her office or during traveling also, if required.
3.2 GePP Offline – Microsoft Excel-based e-Invoice generating software
This is just like any offline tool for the GSTN portal or e-way bill portal. The MS Excel-based tool can be downloaded from the portal to a PC or laptop with the latest MS Office version installed. MS Office 10 or more is required for running the tool smoothly. The tool first runs only by enabling ‘Macros‘ in MS Excel. After that data from a supply, an invoice has to be entered into the tool. Then “validate” the data and generate the JSON file. A JSON file is nothing but a text file based on Java. This JSON file shall be uploaded to the E-invoice portal by login to the portal and selecting the menu ‘E-Invoice’ > ‘Bulk Upload’.
The system will generate IRN, ACK No., and QR Code. The portal generates a “Signed JSON” to download. The same can be downloaded as a “ZIP” folder named “archive.zip” to the system in which the Gepp Offline tool is installed. Then open the downloaded zip folder without extracting the “Signed JSON” file. Take a printout of the e-Invoice containing the IRN and ACK No. with QR Code. This printout can be issued along with the usual supply invoice. There will be another menu adjacent to that “Download Excel”. The user can export the e-invoices in the excel file by clicking on the ‘Download Excel” menu if required.
3.3 – MS Excel Based Bulk Generation tools
These tools are simple MS Excel-based tools. Unlike the GePP Offline tool, it is a long excel sheet for data entry. The data shall be entered in each sheet and validated the data using the” validate” button. Then generate the JSON file. Upload the data to the portal by login to the portal and selecting the menu ‘E-Invoice’ > ‘Bulk Upload’.