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Late Filing Penalties for Limited Companies

Filing your company’s accounts on time is not just a formality; it is a legal requirement with significant consequences for non-compliance. At eAccounts, we recognise the pressures and challenges that limited companies face in meeting these deadlines. However, missing the deadline can lead to severe penalties and other negative consequences. This blog will delve into the repercussions of late filing with Companies House and how you can avoid them, using information from the official GOV.UK guidance on late filing penalties.

The Importance of Filing on Time

Late filing penalties were introduced in 1992 to encourage directors to file their accounts and reports on time. This information is required for the public record, ensuring transparency and accountability in business operations. All companies, regardless of size, type, or trading status, must submit their accounts and reports to Companies House every year. This includes:

  • Private or public companies
  • Large or small businesses
  • Trading or non-trading entities

Filing Requirements and Deadlines

The period allowed to file your accounts depends on whether these are your first accounts since incorporation or subsequent accounts.

First Accounts

  • Private Companies and LLPs: If your 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.
  • Public Companies: If your first accounts cover a period of more than 12 months, you must deliver them to Companies House within 18 months of the date of incorporation, or 3 months from the accounting reference date – whichever is longer.

Subsequent Accounts

In subsequent years, the deadlines are:

  • Private Companies and LLPs: 9 months from the end of the accounting reference period.
  • Public Companies: 6 months from the end of the accounting reference period.

Changing the accounting reference period may affect these deadlines, so it is important to consult the accounts guidance for more information on accounting reference dates and filing deadlines.

Penalties for Late Filing

If you submit accounts late, the law imposes an automatic penalty. The level of the penalty depends on how late the accounts reach Companies House.

Penalty Fees

Length of Period (from due date)Penalty for Private Company or LLPPenalty for Public Company
Not more than 1 month£150£750
More than 1 month but not more than 3 months£375£1,500
More than 3 months but not more than 6 months£750£3,000
More than 6 months£1,500£7,500

The penalty will be doubled if accounts are filed late in two successive financial years.

Example Scenario

A private company with an accounting period ending on 30 September 2019 must deliver acceptable accounts by 30 June 2020 to avoid a late filing penalty. If they were not delivered until 15 July 2020, the company would incur a £150 penalty.

Consequences of Not Filing

Failing to file your confirmation statements, annual returns, or accounts is a criminal offence. Directors or LLP designated members could be personally fined in the criminal courts. Additionally, not paying your late filing penalty can result in enforcement proceedings. Criminal proceedings for not filing confirmation statements, annual returns, or accounts are separate from any late filing penalties issued by Companies House.

How to Avoid Penalties

To avoid penalties, you should:

  • Mark Your Calendar: Set reminders for filing deadlines.
  • Register for Email Reminders: Companies House offers email reminders to help you stay on track.
  • Instruct Your Accountants Early: Ensure your accountants have enough time to prepare and deliver your accounts on time.
  • Consider Guaranteed Delivery: Especially close to deadlines, using guaranteed delivery methods can ensure your accounts arrive on time.

Delivering Accounts to Companies House

Limited companies can file accounts online, while LLPs must send annual accounts directly to Companies House. To avoid penalties, deliver accounts as soon as they are complete and as early as possible before the last date for delivery.

Extensions and Appeals

If there’s a special reason why the accounts might be filed late (such as an unforeseen event), you can apply for more time to file your accounts if your filing deadline has not passed. Extensions are only granted in exceptional circumstances. If you deliver your accounts late, Companies House will automatically issue a penalty notice to the registered office address.

You can appeal a late filing penalty if you can show that the circumstances were exceptional. However, common reasons such as the company being dormant, inability to pay, or accountant-related issues are unlikely to succeed.

Professional Support from eAccounts

At eAccounts, we understand the complexities of running a limited company and the importance of meeting filing deadlines. Our online accountancy services are designed to help you stay compliant and avoid the stress and penalties associated with late filing.

Our Services Include:

  • Proactive Monitoring: We track your filing deadlines and send reminders well in advance.
  • Efficient Preparation: Our experienced accountants use advanced accounting software to prepare your accounts accurately and efficiently.
  • Comprehensive Support: From initial preparation to final submission, we provide comprehensive support to ensure your accounts are filed correctly and on time.

Conclusion

Filing your accounts late with Companies House can lead to severe penalties and other negative consequences. However, with proactive management and the support of a reliable accountancy firm like eAccounts, you can stay compliant and avoid the stress of late filing. If you need help with your company’s accounts or have any questions about filing requirements, please contact us today. We are here to help you navigate the complexities of corporate compliance and keep your business on track.

For more detailed information on late filing penalties, you can visit the official GOV.UK page.

For more information, please get in touch today! Click one of the buttons below to either ‘Get a Quote’ for your business OR ‘Book a Meeting’ with one of our experts!

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