The Companies Registration Office (CRO) has extended the deadline for annual returns that were due on November 25 until December 9.

The move is in response to difficulties experienced by some small accountancy firms in meeting the deadline for their clients as a result of the Covid-19 situation.

A statement from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment, which is responsible for the CRO, said the two week extension would assist those firms that find themselves in serious difficulties.

Last week Chartered Accountants Ireland (CAI) wrote to the Tánaiste asking for a facility to be put in place by the CRO to accommodate some accountancy firms and companies under extreme pressure to meet the November 25 deadline due to Covid-19 disruption.

It told Leo Varadkar that these are primarily small practitioners where either they or their client have either contracted Covid-19 themselves or are close contacts and therefore cannot attend at the office.

CAI also pointed to a facility put in place by Revenue for accountants and taxpayers to seek to arrange to file income tax returns due by November 17 after the deadline and asked that a similar arrangement be put in place.

However, at that stage the department said the CRO had shown considerable flexibility throughout the pandemic in relation to the arrangements for filing annual returns, including through extending the filing deadlines in respect of annual returns due earlier this year at the end of February and May.

Minister for Trade Promotion, Digital and Company Regulation, Robert Troy, welcomed today's decision, which he said followed constructive engagement between the Registrar of Companies and stakeholders.

"This extension will give firms who have yet to file Returns greater certainty and breathing room to meet their filing obligations on behalf of their clients," he said.