For companies experiencing trading difficulties, the obligation to file an annual return can fall down the list of priorities. Failing to file an annual return on time leads to filing penalties and the loss of audit exemption which can lead to further financial loss for the company. The CRO have informed us that it is not in a position to waive these sanctions even if a company is in financial distress.
So, what can be done in this situation?
Firstly the directors should always be aware of their company’s annual return date (ARD). A company’s annual return (including relevant accounts) need to be filed in the CRO within 28 days of this date. The date is normally communicated to the directors by the CRO and can be found by doing a company search on www.cro.ie. Please contact me if you cannot find your company’s ARD.
Provided the filing date hasn’t passed, it may be possible to extend the ARD by up to 6 months by filing a Form B73. Remember that while the ARD may be extended by up to six months, the new ARD must be within 9 months of the accounts year end. Once a Form B73 has been submitted, a company must wait five years before it can submit another B73, should the need arise.
Even if a company has submitted Form B73 in the last five years (or a B73 is not appropriate given the circumstances), it is possible to gain extra time to file its annual return by making an application to the High Court.
Another solution is to file the annual return online. The annual return needs to be filed online before the deadline date but the company gets another 28 days to file the appropriate accounts.
However, once the filing date has passed and the annual return and accounts haven’t been filed, it is too late. The CRO are obliged to impose late filing penalties of €100 plus €3 for every day the return is late plus audit exemption is lost.
Therefore, make sure you are aware of your company’s ARD, act early to ensure that the deadline is met or seek advice and assistance early if you think that you may miss the ARD deadline.
As always, if you have any queries about CRO filings or other company secretarial matters, please feel free to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org.