Accountants and companies preparing for annual returns filing cut-off date facing ‘extreme pressure’ due to pandemic working conditions.
The largest accountancy body in the country wants the Companies Registration Office (CRO) to offer deadline extensions for businesses facing “extreme pressure” to meet the November 25 cut-off for annual returns.
Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI) has written to Enterprise Minister Leo Varadkar seeking leniency for companies unable to file on time due to Covid-19 cases and pandemic restrictions, which have slowed their work.
The body, which represents 30,000 accountants and their business clients, wants the Government to put in place a facility for Covid-hit companies to file late on a case-by-case basis without incurring penalties or losing audit exemption.
In the letter, dated November 8, CAI pointed out that many practitioners and clients facing difficulty have either contracted Covid themselves or are close contacts and therefore face restrictions from the office work necessary to complete the returns on time.
“The loss of audit exemption is a very harsh punishment particularly when the advice from the Government is again to work from home wherever possible and not to attend offices with Covid-19 symptoms,” wrote Dee Moran, CAI’s professional accountancy leader.
“It is crucial that accountants have a clear means of making an arrangement with the CRO similar to that facilitated by Revenue and that requests are responded to promptly without delay.”
Revenue yielded to a similar plea last month when it agreed to give accountants and business owners a last-minute chance to delay tax filings due at the end of October if Covid had disrupted them.
However, Revenue said it would reject requests from taxpayers and agents with a history of filing late returns.
Accountancy representative bodies successfully lobbied in July for a deadline extension to new monthly Employer Wage Subsidy Scheme (EWSS) eligibility returns.
The CRO has consistently rejected requests to extend filing deadlines this year, despite representations from accountants who are processing documents for Covid-19 support schemes.
But the CRO itself has an unprecedented backlog of unprocessed annual returns, with delays running up to 16 weeks before officials even begin reviewing some submitted documents.
Companies that file late returns face late filing fees of up to €1,200 and fines of up to €5,000.