Who needs to file Annual Returns?

Irish Limited Companies need to file Annual Returns (AKA “Form B1”) to the Companies Registration Office (CRO) once a year. This is a requirement even if you have no profit or haven’t started trading.

This guide will answer some of your common questions about the Annual Return and provide you with advice on what happens if you miss your deadline.

We’re also available via phone, email or live chat if you want to discuss your Annual Return – we’re happy to help!

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What information needs to be supplied?

Form B1

This form is completed online using CORE.ie or you can outsource this duty to a professional. It outlines the company’s information, such as the names of Directors, Company Secretary, and Shareholders.

The document needs to be signed by one Director and the Company Secretary and it must be in wet ink as the CRO doesn’t accept digital signatures.

Once it’s signed, the original document needs to be physically sent to the CRO for submission and registration.

Abridged accounts

All Annual Returns (except the first one) requires up to date abridged accounts to be filed with it. These are also known as financial statements.

If you outsource your annual compliance to an accountant, you need to send them your books and records so they can prepare the accounts. Annual Returns are time-sensitive so you need to make sure you give your accountant enough time to calculate your accounts.

Abridged accounts need to be prepared even if your company has no profit or is dormant. This means that you still need to complete this filing even if there is no activity within the company.

When should the Annual Return be filed?

  • The first Annual Return is filed 6 months after your company’s date of incorporation.
  • All subsequent Annual Returns are filed every 12 months.
  • You can apply for an extension of your Annual Return Date, if necessary. This needs to be filed before your Annual Return deadline so talk to a professional if you need help.

Failure to file the Form B1 on time will mean your company faces fines up to €1,200 per year as well as the loss of your audit exemption. These are large additional costs that can easily be avoided!

But try not to panic, if you missed your deadline, talk to the CRO on what you need to do, or outsource the task to an accountant.

What's included in the first Annual Return?

A company’s first Annual Return contains information about the company. This includes 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 after incorporation, this is the time to tell the CRO.

No abridged accounts/financial statements are required with your first Annual Return. So it can be a quick and easy submission, as long as you remember to do it.

The compliance requirements for new companies can be quite daunting at first, especially if you don’t know what’s involved. Check out our 4 tips to make sure you don’t miss your deadline at the end of this guide.

Checking your Annual Return Date

As mentioned, a company’s first Annual Return is due 6 months after incorporation and all subsequent filings are every 12 months.

You can check the date your company was incorporated on your Certificate of Incorporation or check the CRO website.

If you’ve missed your Annual Return, talk to the CRO about what you need to do next, or talk to an accountant about your missed deadline.

Annual Return reminder

The CRO usually sends a reminder 6 weeks before your Next Annual Return Date (NARD) by email. This is a very important email because it reminds you of your obligation to file your form B1.

If you outsource your accounting obligations, your accountant will keep track of this deadline for you so you have time to focus on your business.

What happens after the first Annual Return?

Your second Annual Return is due 18 months after the date of incorporation and all future 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.

Need help filing your Annual Return?

Our team can help you - get in touch now so we can get your services together.

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Do all companies need to file Annual Returns?

Filing your Annual Return is obligatory even if you are not trading yet or if your company is dormant.

Companies that don’t have any turnover or profit still need to complete this filing and they face the same consequences if missed.

Check out the other compliance requirements for new companies in Ireland.

If you need help with your company’s compliance and accounting requirements, talk to us now.

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Consequences of missing your Annual Return deadline

Failure to file your Annual Return in time comes with penalties - even if you miss it by one day.

Fine of up to €1,200

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.

Court option

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 to make sure you don't miss your deadline

1) 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. Here’s where you can find your Annual Return date.

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.

2) 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. So, we recommend all businesses move their accounts online using online accounting software

Once you use online accounting software, you can invite your accountant to view your records quicker and easier.

If you are late sending in your statements, it means your accountant less time to prepare the accounts. Getting them in early means you can usually trust your accountant to take care of your accounts in a timely manner.

3) 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.

When 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!

4) Choose a reliable postage service

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 is 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.

Need help?

If you’ve missed your Annual Return or if you’re interested in offloading the requirement to maintain your deadline, we offer a full range of Compliance and Accountancy services that can help!

Talk to our Client Services team now and we’ll find the best services for your needs.

Call us on +353 (0)1 905 9364, email hello@accountantonline.ie, or chat online.

We’re here to help!

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