Businesses would save €29m by filing accounts online

29 Nov 2010

Filing accounts electronically would not only save firms €29m annually but would reduce red tape and be in keeping with the Government’s four-year economic plan, according to Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation Batt O’Keeffe.

Firms are expected to save €29m as a result of a move by O’Keeffe to allow them to file their annual accounts online.

Under the law, firms must file an annual return to the Companies Registration Office (CRO) with a set of accounts attached and signed by two directors.

Until now, only hard-copy accounts with handwritten signatures could be filed.

An electronic system for filing annual returns with signed accounts is available for the first time at the CRO.

“A PDF set of accounts can now be appended in a way that is as simple as adding an attachment to an email.

“Company directors can sign these accounts using their Revenue Online Service digital signature so this is now an entirely paperless filing transaction,” said O’Keeffe.

Filing an annual return to the CRO with a set of accounts attached and signed by two directors costs firms €247 each on average in printing, paper and postage.

The online move is now estimated to cost €45, saving 145,000 firms across the country €200 each, or €29m altogether.

‘Simple and common-sense’

O’Keeffe described the move as another “simple and common-sense” approach to cutting business costs and improving competitiveness.

“Last week, the Government published a four-year plan with specific actions to improve competitiveness across all sectors of the economy, including measures to cut costs in energy, waste and transport, broadband infrastructure, professional fees, property and labour.

“The shift to electronic filing of annual account aligns well with the Government’s strategy to drive economic recovery because it allows firms to invest their money in jobs and growth rather than wasting it on needless red tape and bureaucracy,” said O’Keeffe.

The move saves the CRO having to re-scan accounts so their presentation to the public on the companies’ register will be faster and clearer.

“The Government is determined to take costs out of businesses and, since 2007, measures we have implemented have saved small firms almost €53m in red tape overheads.

“We want to make Ireland a cheaper place to do business and cut needless bureaucracy out of the system,” said O’Keeffe.

The high-level group on business regulation, set up in 2007, is tackling specific red tape issues arising from business workshops and submissions, as well as suggestions fed in directly by the business organisations on the group.

Since 2007, it has tackled almost 70 red tape issues.

Earlier this month, O’Keeffe announced that firms would save more than €13m annually after scrapping the need to reprint headed notepaper with new names each time directorships change.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years