Every Irish Limited Company is required to submit an Annual Return (form B1) to the Companies Registration Office (CRO) each year.
Your Annual Return outlines the company’s information, such as names of Directors, Company Secretary and Shareholders.
All Annual Returns (except the first one) requires up to date financial statements to be filed with it.
Annual Returns are very important because failure to file the form B1 on time will mean your company faces fines up to €1,200 per year as well as losing of your audit exemption. These are large additional costs that can easily be avoided!
But try not to panic, we can help you each step of the way. From capturing your Annual Return to helping with the preparation of accounts, our team of experts can make sure your company remains compliant.
What you need to know about your first Annual Return
Your first Annual Return (B1 form) is filed 6 months after your company’s date of incorporation. The CRO usually sends a reminder 6 weeks before of your Next Annual Return Date (NARD) by email. This is a very important email because it reminds you of your obligation to file your B1 form.
You need to supply information on the status of your company. This will include details about the Company Directors, Company Secretary, Shareholders and how many shares they own. Usually this is the same information that you set the company up with. But if any changes occurred within the first six months from incorporation, this is the time to tell the CRO.
No accounts/financial statements are rquired to file your first Annual Return. So it can be a quick and easy submission, as long as you remember to do it.
Subsequent Annual Returns
Your second Annual Return is due 12 months later (i.e. 18 months after the date of incorporation). All subsequent Annual Returns will be every 12 months. The difference with this filing is that there are abridged accounts due.
Abridged accounts are a summary of your financial statements – covering profit/loss, assets, income and expenditure.
Although they don’t represent a full set of accounts, they are available to anyone who wishes to view them on the CRO website. This means it is important to get them right.
If you have an Annual Return deadline coming up, get in touch with us. We can take care of the accounts preparation and file your Annual Return.
Consequences of missing your Annual Return deadline
Fine of up to €1,200
Failure to file your Annual Return in time comes with penalties - even if you miss it by one day. Firstly, there is a fine of €100 for missing your deadline and a further €3 per day until you file it. The maximum fine per year is €1,200. This means if you've missed your ARD, get in touch with us straight away so we can help you stop the fine.
Loss of audit exemption
All Irish Limited Companies have an audit exemption and this may be removed if you miss your Annual Return. It is a costly penalty because you lose your audit exemption for 2 years. An audit is an official inspection of your financial statements before they are submitted to the CRO.
You can choose to take a missed deadline case to the High Court to extend your ARD. The Court may offer an exemption from this loss of audit penalty if you can demonstrate that you had a good reason for missing the deadline, e.g. illness or family crisis. If you win the case, you'll still need to file your Annual Return and prepare accounts as the Court only offers to an extension of the ARD.
4 tips on how to maintain your Annual Return Date (ARD)
Put it in your company calendar
Put your ARD in your company calendar even if you’re not directly involved with it’s filing. This means it will be on your radar and you can ensure that your whole team is aware of it.
Filing your Annual Return is obligatory even if you are not trading yet or if your company is dormant. It can also be easy to forget about your ARD if you have multiple companies. So keep all your important company dates on a company calendar to ensure it’s accessible anywhere and it will send you reminders.
Get your bank statements, invoices and receipts into your accountant early
Your accountant needs your books and records in order to prepare the abridged accounts for your company. If you are late sending in your statements, it gives your accountant less time to prepare them. By getting them in early means you can trust your accountant to take care of your accounts in a timely manner.
Be aware of CRO 28 day rule
Every Irish Limited Company has a specific ARD and the CRO gives you 28 days after this date to electronically file your Annual Return online. You can do this via CORE.ie, via Company Secretarial software or you can outsource this task to a professional.
Once you electronically file your Annual Return you are given a PDF summary document and the form B1 signature document. The form B1 signature document needs to be printed and signed by one Director and the Company Secretary and delivered to the CRO for submission. The CRO gives you a further 28 days to deliver the form B1, so you need to take postage time into consideration if you’re not in Ireland. That’s a total of 56 days to turnaround the Annual return process!
Choose a reliable postage sevice
The CRO also doesn’t accept digital signatures or any copies of the signed form B1 so you need to make sure you’re sending the original document. If you don’t comply with these rules, the CRO are very likely to reject your submission, which could lead to serious consequences as outlined above.
Choose a reliable postage or courier service to ensure you can track your letters if necessary.