Introduction to ACRA Annual Filing Penalties

Running a business comes with numerous responsibilities, and one crucial aspect is meeting the compliance requirements imposed by government agencies. In Singapore, the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) plays a pivotal role in regulating business operations. Ensuring compliance with ACRA’s filing obligations, such as annual returns and annual declarations, is essential for all Singapore-incorporated companies, Variable Capital Companies (VCCs), and Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs). Failure to adhere to these requirements can result in penalties and liabilities that may significantly impact businesses, their directors, and secretaries. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the intricacies of ACRA’s revised 2-tier penalty framework for late annual lodgments and explore the specific penalties and liabilities faced by various stakeholders. Additionally, we will examine the importance of timely filing and its broader implications on business operations and reputations.

ACRA Fines and Penalties

Understanding ACRA's Revised 2-Tier Penalty Framework

ACRA has recently simplified the penalty framework for late annual lodgments, effective from 30th April 2021. This revision is part of ACRA’s ongoing efforts to promote voluntary compliance and ensure that businesses take their statutory obligations seriously. ACRA 2-tier penalty system sets out specific penalties for companies, VCCs, and LLPs based on the timing of their late lodgments. Businesses will incur a penalty of $300 if the annual return or annual declaration is filed within 3 months after the filing due date and $600 if the lodgment is filed more than 3 months after the filing due date.

Table 1: Revised Penalty Framework for Late Annual Lodgments

Entity Type Late Lodgment Penalty (from 30 April 2021)
Local Companies
$300 for late lodgment filed within 3 months after filing due date; or $600 for late lodgment filed more than 3 months after filing due date.
Variable Capital Companies (VCC)
$300 for late lodgment filed within 3 months after filing due date; or $600 for late lodgment filed more than 3 months after filing due date.
Foreign Companies
$300 for late lodgment filed within 3 months after filing due date; or $600 for late lodgment filed more than 3 months after filing due date.
Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP)
$300 for late lodgment filed within 3 months after filing due date; or $600 for late lodgment filed more than 3 months after filing due date.

ACRA Annual Filing Penalties and Liabilities for Directors

Directors play a critical role in ensuring compliance with ACRA’s filing obligations. Failure to meet these requirements can hold directors personally liable for the company’s non-compliance, leading to fines or disqualification from acting as directors in other companies.

Liabilities to Directors:

Under Section 155 of the Companies Act, a director convicted of three or more filing-related offences within a five-year period will be disqualified as a director. This disqualification prohibits the individual from being a company director or participating in the management of any local or foreign company for five years, effective from the date of the third company’s striking off. A disqualified director cannot take on new directorship appointments or have any involvement, direct or indirect, in a company’s management. It is crucial for directors to understand their responsibilities and take proactive steps to ensure timely compliance to avoid facing such liabilities.

Penalties and Liabilities for Secretaries

Secretaries also bear significant responsibilities in meeting ACRA’s filing obligations. It is their duty to oversee the accurate and timely lodgment of annual returns and declarations. Failure to meet these obligations can result in severe penalties and potential liabilities, impacting both the secretary’s professional standing and the company’s reputation.

Company secretaries can take the following actions to manage corporate filing deadlines:

  • Maintaining a Filing Calendar: Create and maintain a comprehensive filing calendar that includes all important deadlines for annual returns and declarations. Regularly update and review the calendar to ensure timely preparation and submission of required documents.
  • Internal Compliance Checks: Conduct periodic internal compliance checks to identify any potential issues or discrepancies in company records. This proactive approach allows for early detection and resolution of filing discrepancies.
  • Collaboration with Directors and Auditors: Work closely with company directors and auditors to ensure accurate financial statements are prepared in a timely manner. Effective collaboration ensures that all relevant information is available for lodgment.
  • Digital Filing Solutions: Utilize digital filing solutions or accounting software to streamline the filing process and minimize the risk of manual errors. These tools can help track deadlines and prompt necessary actions to meet filing requirements.
  • Continuous Education: Stay updated with the latest regulatory changes and requirements issued by ACRA. Attend workshops or seminars to enhance knowledge and ensure compliance with current regulations.

Importance of Timely Filing and Its Impact

Timely filing of annual returns and declarations is not only a legal requirement but also critical for maintaining transparency and trust among stakeholders. The impact of late or non-compliant filings can be far-reaching and may include financial penalties, reputational damage, potential legal actions, disqualification of directors, and limited business opportunities. Emphasizing the significance of timely compliance can encourage businesses to take proactive measures to meet filing obligations promptly.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. When will the revised 2-tier penalty framework for late annual lodgments take effect? A: The revised 2-tier penalty framework came into effect from 30th April 2021.

Q2. What types of entities have annual statutory obligations for filing? A: The following entities have annual statutory obligations for filing: local companies (annual returns), foreign companies (financial statements), Limited Liability Partnerships (LLP) (annual declarations), and Variable Capital Companies (VCC) (annual returns).

Q3. Does the revised penalty framework apply to other ad hoc filings? A: No, the revised penalty framework is only applicable to late filing of annual lodgments. However, ACRA may review and simplify the penalty framework for other ad hoc filings in the future.

Q4. Can the revised penalty framework impose additional composition fines on companies/LLP/VCCs? A: The revised penalty framework does not include composition fines. The penalty payable will be reflected and imposed at the point of online lodgment. However, if entities do not voluntarily comply, ACRA may take enforcement actions, including offering a composition sum or prosecuting companies or LLPs in court.

ACRA's Power to Strike Off Companies and Disqualify Directors

In 2016, the Companies (Amendment) Act 2014 was implemented, granting ACRA the authority to strike off a company if there is reasonable cause to believe that it is not carrying on business or is not in operation. Failure to file annual returns consecutively can lead to the striking off of a company by ACRA. Additionally, ACRA has the power to disqualify a director with at least three companies struck off within five years. A disqualified director will be barred from acting as a company director or participating in the management of any local or foreign company for five years, commencing from the date of the third company’s striking off. The disqualification also prohibits the director from taking on new directorship appointments or having any involvement, direct or indirect, in a company’s management. It is crucial for companies and directors to stay compliant with filing obligations to avoid facing such severe consequences.

Debarment Order and Making Representation to ACRA

In 2016, a debarment regime was introduced, empowering the Registrar to debar any director or company secretary who is in default of a relevant requirement in the Companies Act, including failure to lodge any documents, for a continuous period of 3 months or more. A debarred person cannot take on any new appointment as a director or company secretary of other companies.

Appeal Process for Late Filings of ACRA Annual Returns

Directors who wish to make representations to ACRA regarding summonses issued against them (e.g., to reduce the number of charges) should be aware that ACRA will review such representations, but they are rarely acceded to. If making a representation, directors must retrieve a Representation Form and provide the basis for their representation, attaching supporting documents if applicable. The Representation Form should be sent to ACRA [Attention: Enforcement Department (Enforcement)] via email at or by post to 55, Newton Road, #03-02, Revenue House, Singapore 307987. In complex cases, ACRA may take up to 8 weeks to respond.

For individuals seeking to discuss their cases with a compliance manager, they must make an appointment and complete the Representation Form as well. The compliance manager will assess whether the case can be dealt with through a telephone conversation or a written reply without the need for a physical meeting. Providing sufficient information, basis, and supporting documents in the Representation Form is crucial to avoid delays in reviewing the case. If an appointment is necessary, the compliance manager will contact the individual to set a date and time.

Key Points to Note

Companies are legally required to hold an AGM (unless exempted) and lodge an AR within stipulated timeframes. Ensuring timely compliance with these requirements is vital to avoid facing enforcement actions from ACRA. Company directors should also ensure that the company’s particulars, such as the registered office address and its officers’ details, are kept up to date. Staying compliant with filing obligations and keeping company records accurate and current fosters a culture of transparency and trust, crucial for the sustainable success of businesses in Singapore.


Compliance with ACRA’s filing obligations is not only legally mandated but also critical for maintaining trust among stakeholders and fostering a conducive business environment in Singapore. The revised 2-tier penalty framework for late annual lodgments emphasizes the importance of timely compliance for businesses, directors, and secretaries. By taking concrete actions to ensure accurate and timely lodgment, companies can avoid financial penalties and reputational damage, while directors and secretaries can mitigate potential liabilities. Staying up to date with the latest regulatory changes and maintaining transparent and timely filings are vital for sustainable business success in Singapore.


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