THE Companies Registration Office says it expects all firms to file their annual returns on time even if they are in financial difficulty.

"The legal obligation to file an annual return and accounts still exists in such circumstances and there are severe consequences if this is not complied with, including late-filing penalties, loss of audit exemption, involuntary strike-off and possible prosecution. The late-filing penalty and requirement to file audited accounts are legally applicable notwithstanding a plea of economic hardship and the CRO is not in a position to waive these sanctions on that basis," it said last week.

It urged companies in trouble that were in danger of missing their annual return-filing deadline to engage with the CRO before the deadline as extensions of the filing deadline could be granted.