223. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation her views on whether accountants are being unfairly penalised by the audit exemption removal provisions in the Companies Act 2014 in respect of the Companies (Statutory Audits) Bill 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. (Question 20180/18 asked on 08 May 2018)

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): A company that qualifies as small or micro sized may qualify for the audit exemption. This entitlement is lost if the company fails to file its annual return on time.

At present, over 93% of Irish registered companies meet their filing date obligations. Accordingly, the vast majority of small and micro sized companies file on time and do not, therefore, lose their entitlement to the audit exemption.

Companies can have an annual return date of up to 9 months from the end of their financial year. Thereafter, companies have up to 28 days to file their annual return with the Companies Registration Office and up to an additional 28 days to file their accompanying financial statements. As a result, a company may have up to 11 months to prepare their financial statements.

The Companies (Accounting) Act 2017 simplified and / or reduced the financial reporting obligations on small and micro sized companies. It also raised the thresholds for qualification as a small company, so more companies can now qualify for the audit exemption.

The obligation to file on time is an obligation on the company, not on advisors to the company, such as accountants.