Missed Deadlines

Failure to File on time: Failure to file an annual return on time can have several consequences including the imposition of the late filing penalty, prosecution of the company and/or its directors, the loss of the audit exemption or the possible involuntary strike-off and dissolution of the company. (see below).

Extension of time to file

Under section 343 of the Companies Act 2014, with effect from June 1st 2015, applications for an extension of time to file an annual return may be made to either the High Court or to the District Court. The Court may, if it is satisfied that it would be just to do so, make an Order extending the time in which the annual return of the company, in relation to a particular year, may be delivered to the Registrar of Companies. An application to the Court can only be made in respect of an annual return which has not already been delivered to the CRO. Only one Order may be made in respect of a particular year.

Application to the Court is made on notice to the Registrar by means of an Affidavit. The time period which may be extended by the Court is the 28 days after the ARD provided for in sections 343(2) and (3), CA 2014.

Where the Court makes an Order extending the time to file, the company must deliver the Order to the CRO within the time period specified in the Order, usually within 28 days of the Order being made.

If the company delivers the annual return to the CRO within the extending time period specified by the Court Order, that annual return will be deemed by the CRO to have been received on time and the consequences of late filing (late filing penalties / loss of audit exemption) will not apply to that annual return

DISTRICT COURT - APPLICATION FOR ORDER EXTENDING TIME TO FILE ANNUAL RETURN
Procedures to be followed: see also Information leaflet 39.
Please note that a company must have legal representation when making an application to court:

1. An application must first be made to the District Court for the district in which the company's registered office is situated for a court date - see Courts Website

2. A copy of the notice in Form 93B.1 containing the date and time of the court hearing must be served on the Registrar along with a copy of the company's Affidavit (Form 93B.2), thereby putting the Registrar on Notice in accordance with section 343(5), CA 2014. The Form 93B.1 must be signed by the Applicant or by the Solicitor for the Applicant.

3. The Notice to the Registrar must be delivered to the CRO not later than 21 days before the Court date. Otherwise it cannot be accepted.

4. The Form 93B.1 must state the annual return year in question, the company's current ARD, and the date to which the extension is sought. The time period which may be extended by the Court is the 28 days after the ARD provided for in sections 343(2) and 343(3) Companies Act 2014.

5. The CRO will issue a letter acknowledging that the Registrar has been put on Notice to the Applicant or its Solicitor which the company must provide to the Court, along with the Form 93B.1 and Affidavit not later than 4 days before the Court date.

6. If the Judge grants a Court Order extending the time to file, the Order will show (i) the date to which the extension is granted and (ii) the date by which the Order must be delivered to the Registrar (will normally be 28 days).

7. If the Court Order is not delivered to the Registrar by the date specified at 6(ii), it cannot be accepted by the CRO as the company will be in breach of the terms of the Order.

8. If granted an extension of time to file, the company must either
(i) deliver a paper annual return (B1 & financial statements) to the CRO by the date to which the extension has been granted, or
(ii) submit an e-B1 by the extended date and complete the filing within 28 days of that date.

9. If the company delivers or submits its annual return after the date to which the extension has been granted, it will be deemed to be late and will be subject to late filing penalties and loss of audit exemption for two years in the normal way.

10. If the original court date is changed or the case is adjourned, the company must immediately inform the Registrar of the new court date.

HIGH COURT
Please note that a company must have legal representation when making an application to court The application is by means of an affidavit on notice to the Registrar. 

Please note:

(1) Under Section 343(7), Companies Act 2014, a company whose annual return should have been delivered before 1 June 2015 CANNOT apply to the District Court for an extension of time to file that annual return.

The Registrar WILL OBJECT to any application where the annual return should have been delivered prior to 1 June 2015.

(2) Under District Court Rules - Para(4), SI No 256 of District Court (CA2014) Rules 2015, the Affidavit to the District Court must explain why it was not possible to prepare the annual return and set out, and verify, any facts supporting the reasons why the annual return was not delivered to the Registrar on time.

The Registrar reserves the right to object to any application where the reasons provided in the Affidavit and the supporting facts do not explain or verify why it was NOT POSSIBLE to deliver the annual return on time.

(3) A dissolved company does not have a legal existence until such time that it is restored to the Register.

The Registrar WILL OBJECT to any application made by a dissolved company for an extension of time.

Late Filing Penalty

A late filing penalty of €100 becomes due in respect of an annual return on the day after the expiry of the filing deadline, which deadline is 28 days after the effective date of the return, with a daily penalty amount of €3 accruing thereafter, up to a maximum penalty of €1,200 per return. This penalty is in addition to the standard filing fee of €40 per return. Revenue have confirmed that late filing penalties are not tax deductible.

Prosecution

In addition, an on-the-spot fine may be imposed by the CRO where the company has a record of persistent late filing and/or summary prosecution of the company and/or any officer in default. Fines of up to  €5,000 can be imposed on a conviction for breach of the annual return filing requirements - Category 3 offence.

Strike off 

In addition, a company may be struck off the register and dissolved for failure to file an annual return. If a company is struck off, the assets of the company become vested in the Minister for Public Expenditure, and if the business continues to trade, the owners will no longer enjoy the benefit of limited liability and so are personally responsible for any debts incurred so long as the company remains dissolved. Any person, who was a director of a company at the date of sending to that company of a strike off notice due to the non-filing of annual returns, may be disqualified from acting as director by the High Court, where the company is struck off leaving outstanding liabilities. Such order may be made by the Court on the application of the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement. Link to Involuntary Strike-Off.

Audit exemption

If a company’s annual return for the current year or the previous year was not filed on time, the company cannot avail of the audit exemption. Please see Audit Exemption page.

Delay/non delivery of documents posted to the CRO:

CRO receives regular requests from Companies to treat annual returns lost or delayed in the post as received on time.

Section 343(2), Companies Act 2014, places the responsibility on the company itself for ensuring prompt delivery of annual returns to the Registrar. Therefore, where a document is delivered to the CRO after its filing deadline as a result of being lost or delayed in the postal system, the law leaves the CRO with no option but to treat it as being late.

The only circumstance where CRO will consider making an exception to this rule is where the company has sent the document using a time guaranteed service on a date which, under the guarantee, should have resulted in on-time delivery to the CRO and where the service provides proof of delivery or tracks the document to its destination. In such circumstances, CRO will require independent documentary evidence of the date of despatch of the document and proof of delivery.
There are a number of service providers offering this type of time guaranteed delivery service. For example, An Post has confirmed to CRO that EXPRESS POST offers a guaranteed next day delivery service with tracking facilities within the State.

However, An Post makes it clear that REGISTERED POST DOES NOT GUARANTEE NEXT DAY DELIVERY. Therefore, if a document is sent to the CRO by Registered Post and is delivered after the filing deadline, CRO has no option but to treat it as being late.

If a company finds itself in this situation, it can apply to the District Court for extra time to file its annual return under Section 343(5), Companies Act 2014. The Court may, if it is satisfied that it would be just to do so, make an Order extending the time in which the annual return may be delivered to the Registrar. Where the Court makes such an Order, and the company delivers the annual return to the CRO in accordance with the Order, that annual return will be deemed by the CRO to have been received on time and the consequences of late filing (late filing penalties / loss of audit exemption) will not apply to that annual return.

For further information on the District Court process, see CRO Information Leaflet No.39 or CRO website: 
  
If you are a member of the DX mail network you can ensure next day delivery by using DX’s Express Registered Post. The DX numbers for the CRO are:

  • DX 145 001, Parnell House for 14 Parnell Square, Dublin 1
  • DX 271 004, Carlow 2 for O’Brien Road, Carlow. 

Alternatively, presenters can hand deliver to the CRO's Public Office at 14 Parnell Square where you will be provided with a receipt for your documents. The Public Office is open from 9.30am to 4.30pm and is less busy in the morning time.

Electronic Filing:

Electronic filing reduces the risk of late filing of your annual return. If you file electronically, you have an extra 28 days in which to submit the signature page and accounts and the filing fee is only €20. For more information on e-filing, please see Online Services.

Fully electronic filing of an annual return is now possible - the documents can be signed and certified by means of ROS online signing certificates, paid for by CRO Customer Account or Credit/Debit card and financial statements uploaded to the B1 as a PDF attachment.

This removes the risk associated with posting entirely as these documents do not need to be posted but will be listed for processing as soon as the accounts are uploaded.

However, in light of the very serious consequences of late filing (ie penalties and loss of audit exemption), CRO exhorts companies not to leave it to the last day to submit your B1 on-line as there is a risk that a temporary issue with your PC, your broadband service, web browser or server could prevent you from completing the filing on time.

Practical steps in delivering documents to the CRO:

  • Use a delivery service which guarantees next working day delivery and provides proof of delivery.
  • When filing electronically, avoid photocopying or faxing the signature pages as this can result in a deterioration of the barcode and it may not be possible to scan it in the CRO.
  • Avoid long covering letters - if there is something important that needs be noted by the CRO, highlight it in in large bold letters, eg if company is close to being struck off the Register, mark the covering letter "ON STRIKE-OFF LIST".
  • Staple documents together, especially cheques - do not use paper clips.
  • Letters posted to the CRO must have the correct value stamp or frank on the envelope. If not, it will delay delivery of your document. There is no Freepost facility in operation in relation to items posted to CRO.