The period allowed for filing your company’s accounts depends on whether you are filing your first accounts since incorporation or subsequent accounts:
Your First Accounts
If your company’s first 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. If the period is less than 12 months, you most deliver them to Companies House 9 months after the year end.
In subsequent years a private company has 9 months from the end of the accounting reference period in which to deliver its accounts. Deliver means actual receipt at Companies House in the correct format.
Late Filing Penalties – issued to the company
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 penalties will be doubled if a company files its accounts late in 2 successive financial years.
These late filing penalties are not the same as fines imposed on company directors for non-filing of annual returns and accounts. As it is the directors’ responsibility to file all returns and accounts for the company the registrar may decide that if a company does not pay it’s penalties it will start criminal proceedings against the directors. The fine can be up to £5,000 for each offence plus a criminal record. The registrar may also take steps to strike the company off the public record.
Late Filing Penalty Appeals
You can appeal against a penalty, but it will only be successful if you can show that the circumstances are exceptional. This would be if an unforeseen catastrophe strikes the company at a critical time. (i.e. A fire destroying the records a few days before the filing deadline.)
The registrar cannot consider an appeal in the following circumstances: -
- Your company is dormant;
- You cannot 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.
If a company has difficulty in paying the penalty it can be paid by monthly instalments. These are usually over 4 months and exceptionally over 10 months depending on the amount you have to pay.