Annual Financial Accounts FAQs

What are annual accounts?

Annual accounts are a disclosure of the financial details of a company, usually presented in the form of a profit & loss account and a balance sheet.

What is an accounting reference date (ARD)?

An accounting reference date is the date on which the accounting reference period ends. That is, the financial statements will go up to this date. The accounting reference date is calculated by the month end of the anniversary of incorporation.

Company Incorporated 4 June 2010
Accounting Reference Date 30 June 2011 (and 30 June for all subsequent years)

How often must annual accounts be filed?

Annual accounts must be filed every year.

What period must they cover?

A company’s first accounts must start on the date of incorporation (not the date when the company begins trading) and end on the accounting reference date. All following accounts must start one day after the previous accounts and end on the accounting reference date.

Company Incorporated 4 June 2010
1st Annual Accounts 4 June 2010 – 30 June 2011
All Following Accounts 1 July XXXX – 30 June XXXX

What information is required?

Generally, accounts must include (as a minimum):

  • a profit and loss account (or income and expenditure account if the company is not trading for profit);
  • a balance sheet signed by a director;
  • notes to the accounts; and
  • group accounts (if appropriate).

And accounts must generally be accompanied by

  • a directors' report (with a business review if the company does not qualify as small);
  • an auditors' report (unless the company is exempt from audit);

Can I prepare them myself or does an accountant have to?

You may prepare your own accounts, however, we strongly advise that you seek the advice of a professional accountant as the format of accounts is governed by both Company Law and Accounting Standards.

Where do I file them?

Annual accounts must be submitted to Companies House and a copy has to go to HMRC with a tax return (CT200).

When do they have to be filed?

Accounts have to be filed by 9 months after your year end (usually your accounting reference date).

What format do they have to be in (paper/electronic)?

Companies House accepts both paper and electronic submissions. Although only audit exempt abbreviated accounts and dormant company accounts (DCA) can be submitted online.

Who has to sign?

A director must sign the accounts.

Is it a legal requirement?

Yes, it is a legal requirement to file company accounts and failure to do so is a criminal offence. Consequences of which include prosecution of the company directors and possible dissolution of the company.

Are there penalties for filing annual accounts late?

Yes, Companies House charge late filing fees of £150 to £1,500 depending on the length of the delay. NB. These fees are separate from any fines imposed on company directors by the criminal courts. Click here for more info.

Can I change the Accounting Reference Date?

Yes, you can either bring the date forward or extend it. However, you cannot:

  • change the date if the accounts are already overdue
  • extend the date by more than 18 months
  • extend the date more than once in 5 years (unless you have a special provision)

What if I haven’t traded?

Many people form a company to protect the name or in anticipation of business that doesn’t occur. If your company has not traded then you can prepare a simplified account known as a dormant company account.

Need help filing your accounts? Click here

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