Anyone with experience of running a limited company will know the importance of meeting Companies House and HMRC filing deadlines. As a legal requirement, limited companies must prepare and submit key documents such as confirmation statements, accounts and tax returns on time. Meeting these deadlines is important, not least because failure to do so can result in sizeable fines. With careful planning and preparation, however, you can be confident of meeting your limited company filing deadlines each year without fail. In this article we will explain the most important dates for fulfilling your legal obligations while running a limited company, the penalties for not doing so and where to find these key dates that apply to you.
Confirmation statement filing
All limited companies, whether actively trading or dormant, are required to file a confirmation statement with Companies House at least once a year. Preparing and filing a confirmation statement with Companies House ensures that the information held about your company is accurate and up to date. Although a confirmation statement must be filed for your company at least once a year, there is nothing to stop you from doing this sooner if necessary.
Deadlines for submission of confirmation statements
You must submit your confirmation statement to Companies House within 14 days of the end of your 12-month “review period”. Your review period begins from the date on which your company was incorporated or the date on which you last filed a confirmation statement.
For example, if your company was incorporated on 1st January 2023 then your review period begins on that date and ends on 31st December 2023. This means that you must file your confirmation statement with Companies House by 14th January 2024 (i.e. no more than 14 days later).
If you choose to file your confirmation statement early then this will alter your review period. For example, if your company was incorporated on 1st January 2023, but you choose to file early on 31st May 2023 then your new review period will run from 1st June 2023 to 31st May 2024.
Penalties for late or non-submission of confirmation statements
If you miss your deadline for filing a confirmation statement then there is no automatic financial penalty. It is important to understand, however, that not filing your confirmation statements is a criminal offence. The company and its directors may therefore face prosecution for late filing. Limited company directors can be personally fined up to £5,000 by a criminal court. Failure to take action may also result in your limited company being struck off the register of companies and forced to cease trading.
Given the potentially high price to be paid for late or non-filing, it is imperative that company officers take personal responsibility for ensuring the timely filing of confirmation statements. If you do find that you have missed the deadline for filing, you may be able to avoid prosecution and financial penalties by taking immediate corrective action.
Annual accounts filing
All limited companies, whether they are active or dormant, are required to prepare and file annual accounts with Companies House and HMRC. Your annual accounts provide details of your limited company’s performance and activities throughout the financial year. These will normally include a profit and loss account, a balance sheet, notes and a director’s report.
Deadlines for filing of annual accounts
To determine the deadline for filing your annual accounts you need to know your “accounting reference date” (ARD). The ARD is the period upon which your annual accounts should report. Your annual accounts must be filed within 9 months of the ARD. Your initial ARD is the final day of the month in which the anniversary of incorporation falls. This means that future ARDs will then fall on the same date each year.
For example, if your company was incorporated on 15th January 2023 then your financial year will normally run from 15th January 2023 to 14th January 2024. Your first ADR will therefore be 31st January 2024 and 31st January in each subsequent year. Under the annual account filing rules you can prepare your accounts up to the ARD or up to 7 days either side of this date.
You can choose to change your ADR, if necessary, although this will alter the financial year for your limited company from then onward.
Your annual accounts must be delivered by the following deadlines:
- Because your first financial year is more than 12 months, the deadline for filing your your first set of annual accounts is 21 months from the date of incorporation.
- If filing your second or subsequent annual accounts, however, the filing deadline is within 9 months of the ADR.
Please note that “delivered” means when Companies House actually receives the accounts from you, in accordance with the requirements of the Companies Act.
Penalties for late or non-submission of annual accounts
If you fail to deliver your accounts by the deadline then an automatic late filing penalty will apply. The amount of the penalty will depend on how late you file your annual accounts, as follows:
- less than one month late: £150
- more than one month but not more than three months late: £375
- more than 3 months but not more than 6 months late: £750
- more than 6 months late: £1,500
Companies House also state that late filing penalties double if you file your accounts late twice in a row.
If you do not file your annual accounts at all then your company may be struck off, and Companies House may seek criminal prosecution against you.
Corporation Tax and Company Tax Return filing
As a UK limited company you are required to pay Corporation Tax on any profits made to HMRC by a set deadline. The amount of Corporation Tax that you pay will be determined based on the submission of your Company Tax Return (CTR) to HMRC. Your CTR sets out your profit or loss within the tax year for the purposes of Corporation Tax and how much you owe in tax.
Deadlines for submission of Corporation Tax and Company Tax Returns
It is essential that you meet the deadlines for registration for Corporation Tax, filing of your Company Tax Return, and the payment of Corporation Tax to HMRC, as follows:
- You must register with HMRC for Corporation Tax within 3 months of the date on which you begin to trade (not the date of incorporation).
- Your Company Tax Return must be filed with HMRC within 12 months of the end of your accounting period.
- You have 9 months and 1 day from the end of your accounting period to pay your Corporation Tax.
It is important to note that your company accounting period can be no longer than 12 months. Hence, you may need to submit two Company Tax Returns if your accounts cover a period that is longer than 12 months. This could be the case if, for example, you begin to trade on the same day that you register your company.
Penalties for late payment of Corporation Tax and filing of Company Tax Returns
The penalties for late filing of your Company Tax Return are as follows:
|Time after deadline
|A further £100
|HMRC will estimate your Corporation Tax bill and add a penalty equivalent to 10% of the amount of unpaid tax
|A further 10% of any unpaid tax
HMRC state also that if your Company Tax Return is late 3 times in succession then the £100 penalties increase to £500.
It may be possible to appeal against a late filing penalty if you can demonstrate that there was a “reasonable excuse”. To appeal, you will need to write to your company’s Corporation Tax office. You may have a reasonable excuse if you can demonstrate that any of the following circumstances apply:
- A close family member died shortly before the tax return or payment deadline.
- You became seriously unwell or were involved in an accident which required urgent medical care.
- Your computer or software failed while you were preparing your online return.
- There were issues with HM Revenue and Customs’ (HMRC’s) online services that were outside your control.
- A serious event such as a fire, flood or theft prevented you from completing your tax return.
- There were postal delays that you could not have predicted.
- Delays due to a disability or mental illness .
- You were unaware of or did not understand your legal obligations.
- You relied on someone else to send your return but they did not do so.
Where can I find my company filing deadlines?
If we incorporated your limited company on your behalf then you can quickly view your confirmation statement and annual account dates by logging into your online UniWide account. Alternatively, you can access this information by logging into your company Government Gateway account once you have registered for Corporation Tax.
Uniwide is a leading specialist in UK company formations. To make meeting your filing requirements as easy and efficient as possible we offer a dedicated dormant company accounts service, including the completion and filing your Dormant company accounts (DCA) for you. We offer also a confirmation statement service, which includes payment of the Companies House filing fee, completion and filing of the CS01 form and the reporting of any important changes about your business.