Undoubtedly one of the most common queries that we get here at Company Formation MadeSimple is about what the difference between two very important filing obligations are for a limited company. These are Annual Returns and Annual Accounts.
Both are very significant documents that you are required by law to file, so it’s very important that you know exactly what the difference is between the two. This blog will tell you all you need to know about both documents and, significantly, the differences between the two.
What is an Annual Return?
- Essentially it is a snapshot of your company’s information and its overall make up.
- So it will contain the general information on your directors, secretaries and also their business addresses.
- It will also contain the information on the company’s shareholding and its overall share capital.
- It must be filed every 12 months – even if your company isn’t currently trading.
- You must file your annual return within 28 days of your due date.
- If an Annual Return is not filed Companies House will simply strike your company off their register.
- Annual Returns can be done in a few ways: You can do it by yourself, with the help of an accountant, or we can do it for you. See our various Annual Return services here for more information.
What is an Annual Account
- This looks at different factors of your company.
- Rather than assessing your company’s initial information Annual Accounts instead take a closer look at your company’s financial records.
- Typical Annual Account’s will contain key information such as profit and losses; a directors report; an auditor’s report and some kind of balance sheet detailing the business assets or any debts that it might have to pay.
- Annual Accounts must be filed at least once every 12 months – even if your company is not trading.
- If your company is dormant/non trading then you have to file something called Dormant Company Accounts. This is something we offer – see here for more information
- A company’s first set of accounts should be delivered no later than 21 months after formation
- It also needs go to HMRC as a part of your Self Assessment tax return.
The key differences
So whilst both of these documents are often confused it is clear that both are very different even though they are both filed with Companies House. For example returns look at your company whilst accounts look at more at how your company has been performing.
Think of the returns as something that look at the surface of your company, whilst accounts are purely financial. Both compliment each other in the sense that bodies (such as HMRC and Companies House) want to know firstly who are your company’s directors and how the company has performed over the stated period of time.
We hope that this has cleared up any confusion that you may have had regarding this. If you are interested in having us file your return for you see here for more information.