This guide considers some of the questions that most frequently arise with regards to the filing of company financial statements and provides some straightforward answers.
Perhaps the most frequently asked question that arises when people are considering the filing of their company’s financial statements is “How do I know when my company accounts must be delivered?” As there are a number of rules that determine the company accounts filing deadline, we have dealt with this issue separately in our guide entitled: “When are my annual accounts due?
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Setting determination of the filing deadline aside, let us now consider some of the other most frequent queries:
1 I cannot prepare my company accounts in time - can I extend the filing deadline?
You may be able to apply to extend the time for delivering your financial statements to Companies House if they are delayed by an “unforeseen event which was outside the control of the company and its auditors” or there are exceptional extenuating circumstances. You should apply in writing before the normal filing deadline. Full details of how to apply are given in chapter 5 (page 21) of the Companies House document entitled Life of a company – part 1 annual requirements
2 What will happen if I file my company accounts late?
If you file your financial statements late an automatic fine will be imposed on the company. The fines increase the longer you delay submission of the overdue accounts and the penalty will be doubled if financial statements are filed late two years in a row. Public limited companies are also subject to higher tariffs than private companies. You may wish to refer to the Companies House Guide on Late Filing Penalties.
As well as the civil penalty imposed on the company, failure to file the company accounts is a criminal offence and the company’s directors (and company secretary) could face large personal fines and even disqualification from the role of director. Prolonged failure to deliver company financial statements may ultimately result in the company being struck off from the public register.
3 My company accounts filing deadline falls on a Sunday. Can I deliver them on the first working day after the weekend?
No. If your annual accounts due date falls on a Sunday or Bank Holiday you must ensure that you deliver your financial statements before this date or you will incur an automatic fine.
4 Can I change my accounting reference date?
Yes. You may change your accounting reference date as many times as you like if it shortens the accounting period, but if the change lengthens the accounting period then the following restrictions apply:
- Unless the company is in administration – you cannot change the accounting reference date to make the accounting period longer than 18 months.
- You cannot extend the accounting period more than once every 5 years unless your company is in administration or you have obtained permission from the Secretary of State or the change is to make the accounting reference date the same as a subsidiary or parent undertaking.
To change your accounting reference date you must apply to Companies House before you reach the current filing deadline. To apply you can complete paper Form AA01 or register with a free records management service like Inform Direct to submit the request electronically in a matter of moments.
5 My company is dormant - do I need to file dormant company accounts with Companies House?
Yes. All private and public limited companies must file their accounts with Companies House, regardless of their size and whether or not they have carried out any trading activities. This means that even if your company is a micro-entity, or is non-trading or dormant you must still file a set of financial statements with Companies House.
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The only small exemption to this rule is for dormant subsidiaries with an EEA registered parent company – who may in certain circumstances avoid preparing and filing company accounts.
6 Are the filing deadlines for dormant company accounts different?
No. The same filing deadlines apply for dormant company accounts and regardless of the size of your company. You can verify the filing deadline that will apply to your next set of financial statements by reading our guide entitled: “When are my annual accounts due?”
7 Who else should I file my company financial statements with?
You must send a copy of the financial statements to:
- Every shareholder in the company;
- Every holder of the company’s debentures; and
- Every person that is entitled to receive notice of general meetings.
Note that the company accounts prepared and filed with Companies House may not always be suitable for presentation to the members of the company. For example, a private company that qualifies as “small” may deliver an abridged set of financial statements to Companies House consisting of an abbreviated balance sheet and accompanying notes together with an auditor’s report when applicable. However, the accounts prepared for the company’s shareholders would generally include a full balance sheet and notes, together with a profit and loss account, directors report and auditor’s report (if applicable).
As well as sending a complete set of financial statements (i.e. not abbreviated) to the company’s members, you should also submit a copy to HMRC as part of your Company Tax Return. Where applicable, the Charity Commission or other regulatory bodies may also require a set of your company accounts for review.
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