Last updated Mar 19, 2024 and written by Tom Richardson

Annual Accounts vs Annual Returns: What you need to know

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There is mass confusion surrounding the annual accounts and the annual returns. Some people mistake one for the other; some people recognise one but fail to recognise the other and some people completely ignore them both.

However, it is easy to see why there’s uncertainty…

  • They’re both compulsory filing obligations for a private company limited by shares


  • They’re both required regardless of a company’s trading status (unless a company is dissolved or in the process of being dissolved)


  • They’re both delivered to Companies House


  • They’re both delivered annually (and they both have annual in their name!)



Annual Accounts

Detail a company’s financial dealings. If a company is dormant the directors can file ‘dormant company accounts’ rather than the normal accounts.

If annual accounts are delivered after the deadline a penalty is imposed by Companies House:

How late are the accounts delivered?Penalty
Not more than one month£150
More than one month but not more than three months£375
More than three months but not more than six months£750
More than six months£1500

If you have missed the deadline and decide that you would rather close the company than pay the penalty you can request a dissolution instead of filing annual accounts. If you have missed the deadline due to special circumstances you can appeal against the penalty. If annual accounts are not delivered at all, Companies House will close the company.

There is no Companies House fee for filing annual accounts.

Annual Returns

A ‘snaphot’ of a company’s current, non financial, situation. The report is made up of officer, share and address information, as well as a small section dedicated to the company’s industry (via a ‘sic code’ that matches the company’s industry – dormant company’s have a specific code: 99999).

Companies House do not impose a penalty for late filing of the annual returns; if annual returns are not delivered at all, Companies House will close the company.

The Companies House fee for filing annual returns is £13 (online filing fee).

We hope that clears things up! If you have any questions regarding this post simply get in touch