iXBRL Annual Returns Filing During COVID-19- What You Need to Know

A carefully planned approach is crucial to handle the disruption brought about by the COVID-19 in our efforts to tackle this global pandemic. As South Africa pursues an aggressive testing strategy to contain the virus, government agencies like the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC) are also doing their best to help businesses and keep the economy going. Timely decisions and crisis management measures from the CIPC are giving businesses a much-needed Hail Mary until this crisis tides over.

CIPC has set a few instructions to tackle the COVID-19 disruption and manage your iXBRL Annual Returns Filings.

Can I access the CIPC portal for my iXBRL filing?

Yes, the CIPC ensured that some of its fully automated services are available from April 1, 2020, despite the lockdown.

Here’s a list of the services along with their available channels:

1 iXBRL Annual Returns

My Annual Financial Returns and Financial Statements are not ready due to the COVID-19 situation

Keeping the COVID-19 situation in mind, CIPC has extended the deadline for the filing period to two weeks after the National Lockdown ends (to April 30, 2020) or till CIPC issues another notice. You will only get these special exemptions if your filing period falls from 25 March 2020 to 15 April 2020, otherwise, the normal prescribed filing period will be applicable to your iXBRL report. So make sure that you proceed accordingly.

What should I do if I miss my deadline? (extended or otherwise)

Even if you weren’t able to comply with the extended deadline, you will still be subject to the norms of the regular filing process which includes the compliance checklist submission and preparation of Annual Financial Statements accordingly.  For those who fall in the normal prescribed filing period, CIPC is yet to notify them of any special exemptions or considerations.

Since the CIPC offices are now operational with limited staff, you can contact them and find out how to proceed if you haven’t been able to prepare your iXBRL report due to these extenuating circumstances.

Will there be any penalties for late filing?

While the CIPC has agreed to defer penalties for companies filing in the extended deadline period, it has not mentioned any other exemptions yet. Since there has been no communication from the CIPC to indicate otherwise, it is likely that you will face a penalty for late filing if your company follows the normal prescribed filing period.

Will my company be de-registered for non-compliance?

The CIPC has explicitly stated that it will not take any action by placing companies and close corporations into deregistration for non-compliance with Annual Returns. It has also put a hold on the deregistration of any company or close corporation that is currently in the process of non-compliance with Annual Returns, at least until further notice.

In hindsight, the decisions that the CIPC made like the implementation of iXBRL and process automation for easier submissions have made life for South African businesses easier, despite invoking initial reactions that reflected otherwise. Thanks to checks and balances in place, the South African regulator can focus its energy on issues that need urgent attention and timely action, especially now when businesses require its guidance more than ever. During this crisis, CIPC has made it a point to keep businesses informed and set a process that won’t collapse onto itself, which is a truly commendable feat. We are tracking the CIPC website and regularly updating this article with important updates that you may need to know. If you have additional queries of your own you can share them in the comments with us. Take care and stay safe.  

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