Companies House late filing penalty
If you file your accounts late, you’re likely to end up with a Companies House late filing penalty. In this article we’ll look at:
- What’s the deadline for filing company accounts?
- What will happen if the company accounts are filed late?
- The penalties for filing accounts late at Companies House
- How to avoid a late filing penalty
- Can I appeal a Companies House late filing penalty?
- What accounts need to be filed?
What’s the deadline for filing company accounts?
All company have to file accounts with Companies House every year. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve traded, made a profit, made a loss, or nothing has happened – accounts need filing each year.
The deadline depends on whether it’s the company’s first accounts, or subsequent ones.
The easiest way to know what date you’ve got to file the accounts is to go to Companies House and search for your company. You can do that here: https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/ This will show you the date your next accounts are due.
Deadline for filing the company’s first accounts
If the accounts cover a period of more than 12 months, you must deliver them to Companies House within 21 months of the date of incorporation, or 3 months from the accounting reference date (whichever is longer). The deadline for delivery to Companies House is calculated to the exact day.
Your company was incorporated on 10 January 2022 and your first accounts will be prepared to 31 January 2023 (The accounting reference date). You must file your accounts by the longer of:
- 21 months from 10 January 2022, which is 10 October 2023
- 3 months from the accounts reference date of 31 January 2023, which is 30 April 2023
You will therefore need to file the accounts by 10 October 203.
If the accounts cover a period of less than 12 months, you will have the normal amount of time for delivering the accounts.
Deadline for filing accounts other than the first year
The accounts must be filed within 9 months of the accounting reference date.
For example, the company has a 31 March 2022 year end. The accounts must be filed by 31 December 2022.
Deadline for filing your company’s accounts if you have shortened your account period
When a company shortens its accounting period, the new filing deadline will be the longer of the following 2 options:
- 9 months from the new accounting reference date
- 3 months from the date of receipt of the notice of change of accounting reference date
Assume you company has a 31 March 2022 year end but you send a notice to Companies House to shorten it to 31 December 2021 on 15 November 2022. The new filing deadline will be 15 February 2023, which is the longer of:
- 30 September 2022 (9 months from 31/12/21 (The new reference date)
- 15 February 2023 (3 months from 15/11/22)
What will happen if the company accounts are filed late?
Unless an unplanned event has stopped you from filing the accounts you will receive a penalty.
You may be able to apply for more time to file the accounts here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/applying-for-more-time-to-file-your-companys-accounts
What are the penalties for filing accounts late at Companies House?
Failure to deliver accounts on time is a criminal offence. In addition, the law imposes a civil penalty for late filing of accounts on the company. The amount of the penalty depends on how late the accounts arrive:
|How late are the accounts?||Penalty|
|Not more than 1 month||£150|
|More than 1 month but not more than 3 months||£375|
|More than 3 months but not more than 6 months||£750|
|More than 6 months||£1,500|
The penalty will be doubled if accounts are filed late in 2 successive financial years.
Not filing company confirmation statements, annual returns or accounts is a criminal offence – and directors could be personally fined in the criminal courts.
Failing to pay a late filing penalty can result in enforcement proceedings. Any criminal proceedings for not filing confirmation statements, annual returns or accounts is separate from (and in addition to) any late filing penalties issued by Companies House against the company.
There’s no penalty for filing your confirmation statements or annual returns late – but the registrar could take steps to strike off your company.
Can I appeal a Companies House late filing penalty?
You can appeal against a penalty, but it will only be successful if you can show that the circumstances are exceptional.
The registrar has very limited discretion not to collect a penalty. It may be applied when an unforeseen event happens at a critical time – for example, a fire destroying records a few days before the filing deadline.
Your appeal is unlikely to be successful if it’s based solely on the examples below:
- your company is dormant
- you can’t afford to pay
- your accountant was ill
- you relied on your accountant
- these are your first accounts
- you are not familiar with the filing requirements
- your company or its directors have financial difficulties (including bankruptcy)
- your accounts were delayed or lost in the post
- the directors live (or were travelling) overseas
- another director is responsible for preparing the accounts
What accounts need to be filed?
Medium and large company accounts will generally be audited and will usually include:
- a profit and loss account
- a balance sheet
- a director’s report
Small companies can choose to file abridged accounts. These are a simplified version of the accounts and don’t need a directors’ report or a profit and loss account.
The company will be ‘small’ if it has any 2 of the following:
- Turnover is less than £10.2 million
- Balance sheet assets are less than £5.1 million
- Less than 50 employees
Micro-entities are companies with even smaller turnovers are classed as micro-entities. Your company can file micro-entity accounts if it has any 2 of the following:
- Turnover does not exceed £632,000
- Balance sheet assets don’t exceed £316,000
- You have no more than 10 employees
Companies House late filing penalty – Conclusion
The best thing to do is to avoid a penalty in the first place! Put a reminder in your diary to get the accounts prepared well in advance of the deadline.
If you’re looking for a firm of accountants to help with your company accounts, please contact us to see how we can help.
The information in this article relates to private limited companies. This article is for general information purposes. You should appoint an accountant to advise on your specific circumstances.