Ever wondered what would happen if you didn’t file the company accounts on time? Well, unfortunately, the company would be automatically subject to a penalty ranging from £150 to £1,500 if a private company and £750 to £7,500 if a public company.

There’s a strict date by which a company’s accounts must be filed with Companies House.

If it’s the company’s first accounts, and they cover a period of more than 12 months, this date will be within 21 months of the date of incorporation for private companies (18 months for public companies), or 3 months from the accounting reference date, whichever is longer.

For subsequent accounts, a private company has 9 months from the end of the accounting reference period and a public company has 6 months.

The level of penalty depends on how late the accounts are filed. The minimum for a private company is £150, if not more than a month late, going up to £375, then £750 and then £1,500, if more than 6 months late. These penalties will actually be doubled if a company files its accounts late in two successive financial years!

Significantly, these penalties are automatic and only apply to company accounts, highlighting their very important nature.

Companies House has provided tips for ensuring you file on time:

  1. Mark your diary or calendar to remind you in good time of the filing deadline;
  2. Read the filing reminders sent to the registered office; and
  3. If appropriate, instruct your accountants in good time and remind them of the need to prepare and deliver the accounts on time.

Written appeals are possible but “exceptional circumstances” are needed, which are difficult to prove. Unacceptable excuses include your accountant being ill or the directors being overseas at the critical time. If the appeal is rejected, further courses of action are to the Senior Casework Unit and then the Independent Adjudicators. However, the registrar at Companies House is the only one with the very limited discretion not to collect a penalty.

We therefore advise filing the accounts well in advance of the deadline, by considering the tips above and planning well in advance. A penalty for late filing is money which the company could otherwise save and spend on developing the business.

Corporate and Commercial