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What is GSTR 4A and how to view the GSTR 4A JSON File in Excel?

kushwanth avsr 
on 01 October 2020

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What is GSTR 4A?

GSTR 4A is an auto-drafted document that is generated by the GSTN on the basis of the information provided by the suppliers of the composition dealer. It is a view-only document and cannot be modified by the composition dealer. It is similar to the GSTR 2A document which can be viewed by the Regular Taxpayer.

How to view GSTR 4A?

We can view GSTR 4A by following the below steps:

1. Logging into the GST website 
2. Navigating to the Return Dashboard
3. Selecting the desired financial year and month
4. Clicking on the View button on GSTR 4A title

Problems in viewing GSTR 4A online?

GSTR 4A can be viewed online by following the steps earlier said but there are a couple of issues and some of them are mentioned below:

1. It requires an internet connection
2. It takes a minimum of 2-5 seconds to view each bill and 10-20 seconds to change from one party to another party
3. We can't analyze the data simply by viewing the bills in GSTR 4A on the website as in case of more number of bills we have to enter the same in some excel sheet or any other such statement to either analyze the data or reconcile the data

So, the GSTN has given an option to download GSTR 4A details in a JSON format

What is a JSON format?

JSON stands for JavaScript Object Notation is an open standard file format, and data interchange format, that uses human-readable text to store and transmit data objects consisting of attribute-value pairs and array data types. It serves as a replacement to XML format. 

In simple words, it stores the data in less space and we can transmit the data to others simply but the issue is that it can't be read by a human simply. For a layman, it takes more time to analyze the data and interpret it. Due to this issue, GSTN had given an option for regular taxpayers to view GSTR 2A in excel format besides JSON as excel is easy to understand and analyze.

How to view the GSTR 4A JSON file in excel?

There are many websites and software that are available and some are paid and some are free which can be used to convert a JSON file into excel but most of them hadn't served the exact purpose as in most of the cases, they use normal JSON format to convert into excel, so only a part of data will be converted and even if it converted, it might not be perfect. The most important issue is privacy. The data that we upload in those websites might be stored by those websites which might lead to data leak. So, a better option is to use a reliable tool. So, let's see a reliable and risk-free way to view GSTR 4A

Earlier when GSTR 4 used to be quarterly return, there used to be an offline tool to facilitate the users to file GSTR 4 return with JSON. In that tool, there is a hidden fact that the same offline tool can be used to view the GSTR 4A JSON file. As GSTR 4 quarterly return is only applicable up to FY 2018-19. So, I will give the steps on how to view the GSTR 4A JSON file up to FY 2018-19 in excel:

1. Open GST website
2. Go to downloads and click on GSTR-4 Offline Tool(Quarterly Filing)
3. There you can see the GSTR-4 Offline Tool(At the time of writing this article, the version is 3.3 and it worked for this version). 
4. Download the offline tool and extract the downloaded zip folder
5. Open the Excel workbook in that folder
6. Enter the GSTN and Financial year and relevant quarter
7. Click on Open Downloaded GSTR4 JSON file and select the JSON file of GSTR-4A that you had earlier downloaded
8. Wait for few minutes, after the process is completed the excel gives a popup message that Downloaded GSTR-4 file successfully opened
9. Go to the respective sheets like 4-A&B(B2B) to view the B2B bills and you can view the JSON data there.

What is GSTR 4A and how to view the GSTR 4A JSON File in Excel

The above steps work for the data up to FY 2018-19. From FY 2019-20, GSTR-4 was made annual and it is no more quarterly and hence, GSTN had stopped giving updates to the GSTR 4(Quarterly Filing) Offline tool and due to that in the offline tool, the financial year that we can select is restricted to FY 2017-18 and FY 2018-19. So, to view the GSTR 4A JSON file for the financial year after 2018-19, the better way is to modify the JSON data. It can be done by the following steps:

1. Download the JSON file of GSTR 4A for the desired quarter

2. Extract the zip folder (JSON file will be downloaded in zip format, so here we are extracting it)

3. You can see the JSON file in the extracted folder (Do not keep multiple JSON files of a single client in a single folder as they have almost the same names and they might either replace the data or corrupt the data)

4. Open the JSON file using notepad (Right-click on the JSON file and select open with and select notepad ---> If you are facing any issue in this then simply rename the JSON file, for example, the file name is like returns_DDMMYYYY_R4A_00AAAAA1111A1ZA_offline_others_0.json then simply change the last four letters of the name i.e., JSON into txt and click ok on the popup message and then open it)

 

5. When you opened the file, you might find the data very clumsy but there is no need to read the entire data. Just read the first line that too up to 50 characters only. In the first line, you might find the data like this {"gstin":"00AAAAA1111A1ZA","fp":"062019". In this, the first thing gstin means GST number and you will find your GST number there, and second, this is fp which might mean financial period. In the fp, if you see it was given that it is 062019. In that 06 means, the last month of the quarter for which you downloaded, and 2019 means the year. So, just change the year 2019 to 2018(Here we are changing the financial year 2019-20 to 2018-19 as GSTR 4 Quarterly tool works only up to 2018-19. which means if the fp is 032020 then we change it to 032019 as 2019 is the year of 2018-19). So, now the first line will be like this: {"gstin":"00AAAAA1111A1ZA","fp":"062018"   . 

6. Now save the file. (If you had earlier changed the file name to txt, then rename it to JSON now)

7. Now follow the same steps that I had mentioned earlier to view the JSON file of 2018-19. You can view the purchase bills now in the excel.

 

Note: The steps might look like there is a need to do work of minimum 15-20 minutes but the fact is that when you actually do the work it will take only 3-4 minutes to view the data.


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