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Late filing penalties for limited companies

All limited companies are obliged to file accounting and other information with Companies House and HMRC each year. What happens if you deliver documents late, and how can you avoid penalties?

Limited company tax

Accounts submission deadlines

  • If you are filing your company accounts with Companies House for the first time, you will have up to 21 months from the incorporation date (or 3 months following the accounting reference date if this is longer) to do so.
  • In subsequent years, you must file your accounts no later than 9 months after your accounting reference date, although this deadline may be shortened if you have decided to change this accounting reference date for any reason.
  • Importantly, the company’s directors are responsible for ensuring that the company accounts are submitted on time, and in the correct format, even though your accountant will most likely be in charge of submitting the information.

What are the penalties for late submission of accounts?

  • The initial penalty for late submission by a private limited company is £150, rising to £1,500 if the accounts are over 6 months late.
  • Should the company manage to incur a late filing penalty in a subsequent year, then the penalties will be doubled.
  • A penalty notice will be automatically sent to the company’s registered address, and if ignored, you could face a debt collection process, and even striking off in rare cases.
  • Companies can appeal against late filing penalties, but Companies House states that appeals will only be considered in ‘exceptional’ circumstances.

Late filing penalties for other documents

Alongside late filing of companies accounts, you could also face penalties for the late delivery of other documents, including:

  • If you change your company’s Articles of Association, you are obliged to notify Companies House witin 15 days. Failure to do so would result in a civil penalty of £200 since 1st October 2009.
  • The company’s officers are also responsible for submitting the company Annual Return (AR01) on time each year – typically within 28 days of the anniversary of the incorporation date. Failure to do so could result in a fine of up to £5,000, and the directors could even be prosecuted. So make sure your accountant has submitted your Annual Return on time, if you do not do this yourself.
  • Your company may also be liable for penalties if you submit documents late to HMRC – this includes company related returns (such as your Company Annual Accounts, Employer Annual Return), and personal penalties could also apply for late submission of your annual self assessment return.

Avoiding late filing penalties

Clearly, as a company director, you should always be aware of when documents need to be submitted to Companies House (or HMRC), and ensure that your accountant has performed the tasks they have been engaged to carry out.

Make sure your accounts are submitted in the correct format and using the most secure method (typically this would be WebFiling). Inaccurate accounts, or those submitted in the wrong format will be rejected, which in itself could lead to penalties being applied.

Further Information

  • Companies House Guide GP5 to late filing penalties for annual accounts.
  • The GOV.UK guide to Corporation Tax penalties.
  • Try this GOV.UK guide to self assessment penalty calculator.

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