Speaking at the Governance Ireland Conference in May this year, the Registrar of Companies, Maureen O’Sullivan announced that no further Covid-19 annual return filing deadline extensions are in the pipeline. Ms O’Sullivan further commented that there are around 10,000 companies currently due to be involuntarily struck off the register of companies for having a late annual return filing outstanding.
It was also announced that the CRO will recommence prosecution of a selection of directors and companies in the District Court that are ‘late annual return repeat offenders’, with a maximum penalty not exceeding €5,000. The Registrar also highlighted that the companies register now holds close to 270,000 live companies which is a record number. However, the register has reached this large size due to the suspension of involuntary strike offs following worldwide business disruption caused by the pandemic.
The recommencement of involuntary strike offs in the coming weeks will result in a more realistic live company count. If your company or client company is late with its CRO annual return(s), act now to avoid possible enforcement action by the CRO and remember that annual returns are mandatory electronic filing using the CRO’s CORE platform or company secretarial software. Prior to the introduction of the new CORE platform in December 2020, a late penalty fee calculator tool was available on the CRO’s website. However, it was removed and has yet to be restored.
It is important to note that late returns also result in loss of audit exemption for the next two years, so the late filing of an annual return is a costly burden on small businesses and company secretaries should put systems in place to ensure this yearly deadline is met.