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When Do Annual Accounts Have to Be Filed and How Much Do They Cost in the UK?

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

Did you know that your company in the UK is required by law to file annual accounts with Companies House or HMRC even if you are not trading? Before we talk about their deadlines, let's take a look at what annual accounts are:


What are the Annual Accounts?

Annual accounts are often called "financial accounts", "Financial statements", "business accounts" or "legal accounts". Financial statements give a complete overview of the company's financial operations for the latest year. The information contained in the statements can be used to create an income tax return as well as to determine the amount of tax due by a business.


Annual Accounts, also known as statutory accounts, are a set of financial statements prepared at the end of a company's financial year in the UK. These accounts provide a summary of the financial performance and position of a business over the fiscal year. They are essential for various stakeholders, including shareholders, creditors, and tax authorities.


When Do Annual Accounts have to be Filed


Key Components of Annual Accounts


  1. Balance Sheet: This shows the financial position of the business at the end of the financial year. It lists all the assets owned and liabilities owed by the company, giving a snapshot of its net worth.

  2. Profit and Loss Account: Also known as the income statement, it summarizes the company's revenues, costs, and expenses during the financial year. This account shows the profit or loss made by the business.

  3. Cash Flow Statement: This details the cash inflows and outflows from operations, investments, and financing activities, showing how the company has generated and used cash and cash equivalents.

  4. Notes to the Accounts: These provide additional information and breakdowns of items in the other three statements, offering more detailed insights into the company's financial activities.

Annual Accounts are subject to compliance with accounting standards such as the Generally Accepted Accounting Practice in the UK (UK GAAP) or International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), depending on the size and nature of the company.

For tax purposes, these accounts are fundamental as they form the basis for calculating the corporation tax owed by the company. HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) uses the information in the annual accounts to assess the tax liability of the business.


Additionally, companies must file their annual accounts with Companies House, the UK's registrar of companies, where they become publicly available for scrutiny by interested parties.


In summary, Annual Accounts in the UK tax system are a crucial tool for financial reporting, tax assessment, and providing transparency into a company's financial health and operations.


Deadlines for Filing Annual Accounts in the Companies House

As the director of a limited company, you must file the annual accounts with the company's house. When you first set up and incorporate your limited company, a “fiscal year end” date for your annual accounts is automatically assigned to it. This date is the last day of the month in which you set up your company. It gives you a guide as to when to submit your accounts each year.


Note: For your first year, you must submit annual accounts within 21 months of your date of incorporation. For example, company A must file the company's annual accounts by July 12, 2023, If company A incorporated on 13th October 2021


After the first year, you must file your financial statements within nine months of your Accounting Reference Date. For example, company A must file its 2022 annual accounts no later than July 31, 2023, for the period of November 1st 2022. Confused? Don't worry. A professional tax accountant will help you meet these deadlines, including finalizing and filing your financial statements with Companies House and HMRC. So look for a tax accountant who can provide you with more personalized service, especially if you also need services such as payroll, VAT, capital gain tax, bookkeeping and income statements.


Deadlines for Filing Annual Accounts with HMRC

Each year you (small limited companies or micro-entities)must file a tax return and pay corporation tax to HMRC. Your company's tax return is due 12 months after the end of your financial period.


Your tax accountant has all the relevant financial data for your limited companies, but you can access this information yourself for reference. Small and micro businesses are still required to file full annual accounts with HMRC as part of the company tax reporting process. A good tax advisor can file the corporation tax return on your behalf, calculate how much corporation tax you owe and tell you when you need to pay it.


In the UK, the deadlines for filing Annual Accounts are primarily governed by the Companies Act and the requirements set by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and Companies House. These deadlines vary depending on the status and circumstances of the company. Here are the key deadlines:


First Accounts of a New Company:

  • If you're filing your company's first accounts and they cover a period of more than 12 months, they must be filed with Companies House 21 months after the date of incorporation for private companies, or 18 months for public companies.

  • If the first accounts cover 12 months or less, the deadline is 9 months after the accounting reference date for private companies or 6 months for public companies.


Subsequent Annual Accounts:

  • For private companies, subsequent annual accounts must be filed with Companies House within 9 months after the accounting reference date (the end of the financial year).

  • For public companies, the deadline is 6 months after the accounting reference date.


Corporation Tax:

  • While not directly about filing annual accounts, it's important to note that the corporation tax return, which uses figures from the annual accounts, must be filed with HMRC. This is usually due 12 months after the end of the accounting period it covers.


It's crucial for companies to adhere to these deadlines to avoid penalties. Late filing can result in fines and, in some cases, legal action. The penalties increase the longer the accounts are overdue and can be quite substantial, especially for repeated late filing.


Companies should also note that these deadlines can be different if the accounting reference date is changed, or in the event of certain company changes like administration. It's always a good idea to stay informed about any potential changes in filing requirements or deadlines that might apply specifically to your company's situation.


What You Need to Include in Annual Accounts:

To file annual accounts a company must need to include:


● Profit and Loss Account.

● Balance sheet.

● Director's report

● Audit report

● Name of the director

● Signature of the director


Note: Small limited ('micro') business owners are not normally required to file full annual accounts with Companies House; however, they must file a company tax return with HMRC. Your accountant will help you fill it out and submit it.



How Annual Accounts are Prepared in the UK: A Step-By-Step Guide


Understanding the Basics

Before diving into the preparation of Annual Accounts, it's crucial to understand what they are. Annual Accounts, also known as financial statements, provide a detailed picture of a company's financial performance and position over the financial year. They are essential for tax purposes, informing shareholders, and complying with legal requirements in the UK.


Step 1: Gathering Financial Records

The first step in preparing Annual Accounts is gathering all financial records. This includes invoices, receipts, bank statements, and any other documentation of the company's financial transactions. Good record-keeping throughout the year simplifies this process.


Step 2: Reconciling Bank Statements

Reconcile your bank statements with your financial records. This ensures that your accounts accurately reflect all transactions. Discrepancies should be investigated and resolved.


Step 3: Preparing the Trial Balance

The trial balance is prepared by listing all the accounts and their balances at the end of the accounting period. This helps in ensuring that the total debits equal the total credits, indicating that the accounts are correctly balanced.


Step 4: Adjusting Entries

Adjusting entries are made for accruals, prepayments, depreciation, and other adjustments not recorded in the daily transactions. These adjustments ensure that the accounts reflect the true financial position of the business at the end of the accounting period.


Step 5: Preparing the Financial Statements

The primary components of the Annual Accounts are:

  1. Profit and Loss Account (Income Statement): Shows the company's revenues, expenses, and profit or loss over the accounting period.

  2. Balance Sheet: Presents the company's financial position at the end of the accounting period, listing assets, liabilities, and equity.

  3. Cash Flow Statement: Details the inflows and outflows of cash during the accounting period.

  4. Notes to the Accounts: Provide additional insights and breakdowns of the financial statements.

Step 6: Ensuring Compliance with Accounting Standards

UK companies must prepare their accounts in accordance with either UK GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Practice in the UK) or IFRS (International Financial Reporting Standards), depending on their size and nature.


Step 7: Getting the Accounts Audited (if required)

Companies that meet certain size criteria are required to have their accounts audited. An independent auditor will review the accounts to ensure they are fair and comply with accounting standards.


Step 8: Approval by the Board of Directors

Before the accounts can be filed, they must be approved by the company’s board of directors. The board is responsible for ensuring the accuracy and completeness of the accounts.


Step 9: Filing with Companies House and HMRC

The final step is to file the accounts with Companies House and the Corporation Tax return with HMRC. The deadlines for filing these documents vary but are generally 9 months after the accounting reference date for private companies and 6 months for public companies.


Preparing Annual Accounts is a detailed process requiring meticulous record-keeping and a good understanding of accounting principles. While it's possible for business owners to manage this process themselves, many choose to work with professional accountants to ensure accuracy and compliance with all legal requirements.



What Happens If I Submit My Annual Accounts After the Deadline?

Companies House and HMRC have separate penalties for not submitting your accounts by the deadlines set by each. Filing Annual Accounts late in the UK can result in significant penalties. The severity of these penalties depends on how late the accounts are filed and whether the company has been late in filing in previous years. Companies House imposes these fines, which increase over time. For instance, for private limited companies, fines start at £150 for being up to one month late and can go up to £1,500 for more than six months late. Repeated late filing can double these penalties. Moreover, persistent failure to file accounts can lead to directors being fined personally and even disqualified, and in extreme cases, the company can be struck off the register and dissolved.


These are the Penalties for Late Filing of Your Annual Accounts with Companies House:

time after your penalty deadline Amount

Up to 1 month £150

1 to 3 months £375

3-6 months £750

More than 6 months £1,500


These are the Penalties for Filing Your Tax Return Late with HMRC:

time after your penalty deadline Amount

less than three months late £100

More than 3 months £200

More than 12 months 20% tax due

Different Types of Limited Liability Accounts

All businesses other than 'small' businesses, micro-businesses and dormant businesses are required to submit full annual accounts or 'statutory accounts' to Companies House and HMRC. These accounts consist of:


● a profit and loss account

● a directors’ report

● an auditors’ report

● a balance sheet

● Name of the director

● Signature of the director


Small Business Accounts

To be considered small, your business must satisfy the following 2 criteria:


● Annual turnover less than £10.2 million

● a total balance sheet should be less than £5.1 million

● less than 50 employees


Small business accounts are exempt from audit, so you do not need to include an audit report.


Micro-Entity Accounts

Very small-sized companies can set up micro-entity accounts. They come with fewer requirements than accounts for small companies. To be a micro-entities, your business must satisfy 2 of the criteria:


● annual turnover less than £632,000

● the balance sheet should be less than £316,000

● Employers with less than 10 employees


Dormant Company Accounts

Dormant businesses only have to create dormant financial statements. They aren't required to submit any information to HMRC however they have to notify HMRC that the business is inactive to be used for Corporation Tax purposes.


Cost of Annual Accounts


What is My Company's Accounting Reference Date (ARD)

Every company is given accounting reference data (ARD) upon the day they register at Companies House. This date marks the conclusion of the fiscal year of the company. The very first ARD for a firm is received on the last day of the month that it was founded such as:


● The company is registered on the 1st of July 2022.

● The first time you will receive an ARD is July 31st, 2023.


The ARD will be the same after every year unless you extend or shorten the financial year.


Can I Change My Accounting Reference Date?

Yes, the accounting reference date can be changed at any time, but you cannot change it if your annual accounts are overdue. If you want to change the ARD for your company. The director needs to fill out the Companies House Form AA01. It is a simple procedure to complete this form.


How much will Annual Accounts Cost?

The cost of your annual accounts will be based on the size and complexity of your company. We are online accountants and charge between £299 and £599 per annum to prepare and submit your company's accounts with Companies House and HMRC.

● £150 to £250 for a Small Limited Company with a Turnover of up to £30k

● £450 for a Medium Limited Company with a turnover between £100k to £130k

● £600 for a Large Limited Company with a Turnover between £250k to £300k



The Role of a Tax Accountant in Filing Annual Accounts in the UK

In the complex world of financial management and tax compliance, the role of a tax accountant is indispensable, especially when it comes to filing annual accounts in the UK. Whether you're a small business owner, the director of a large corporation, or a self-employed individual, understanding the intricacies of the UK tax system and ensuring compliance can be a daunting task. This is where a tax accountant steps in, offering expertise, ensuring accuracy, and potentially saving you a significant amount of time and money.


Ensuring Compliance and Accuracy

One of the primary roles of a tax accountant is ensuring that your annual accounts comply with the current financial reporting standards in the UK, such as UK GAAP or IFRS. They are adept at navigating the ever-changing landscape of tax laws and accounting practices. By doing so, they ensure that your financial statements accurately represent your business's financial position, thus avoiding potential issues with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) or Companies House.


Strategic Financial Planning and Advice

A tax accountant doesn't just crunch numbers; they provide strategic advice to help you make informed financial decisions. They can offer insights into the most tax-efficient ways to operate your business, advise on capital investments, and help in planning for future growth. By analyzing your financial data, they can identify trends and provide forecasts, aiding in budgeting and financial planning.


Handling Complex Tax Issues

For businesses involved in more complex transactions or those with unique tax situations, a tax accountant is particularly valuable. They can handle intricate details related to tax deductions, reliefs, and allowances that you might not be aware of. This expertise is crucial in minimizing your tax liability legally and effectively.


Time-saving and Cost-effective

Preparing annual accounts can be time-consuming, especially if you're not familiar with accounting software or the latest tax regulations. A tax accountant can take this burden off your shoulders, allowing you to focus on running your business. Moreover, by outsourcing this task, you potentially avoid the cost of errors that could arise from self-preparation, such as penalties for non-compliance or late submission.


Assistance with Audits and Investigations

If your business is subject to an audit or a tax investigation by HMRC, having a tax accountant is invaluable. They can prepare all the necessary documentation, represent your interests, and provide expert advice during the process. Their understanding of tax laws ensures that you are well-represented and compliant throughout the investigation.


Tailored Services for Various Business Types

Whether you run a startup, an SME, or a large corporation, tax accountants offer tailored services to meet your specific needs. They understand the different challenges and opportunities each type of business faces and can provide customized advice and solutions.


Keeping Up with Digital Transformation

With the UK moving towards a digital tax system, including Making Tax Digital (MTD), a tax accountant can help you navigate this transition. They are familiar with various accounting software and digital tools that are compliant with MTD, ensuring that your business stays ahead in the digital curve.


Facilitating Communication with Authorities

A tax accountant acts as a liaison between your business and regulatory bodies like HMRC and Companies House. They ensure that all communications are clear, professional, and timely, which is crucial in maintaining a good relationship with these entities.


Providing Ongoing Support and Consultation

A tax accountant is not just for the annual tax season; they provide ongoing support and consultation throughout the year. This continuous engagement allows them to offer timely advice on financial matters as they arise, keeping your business on track and compliant.


In summary, a tax accountant plays a crucial role in the preparation and filing of annual accounts in the UK. Their expertise not only ensures compliance and accuracy but also offers strategic financial advice, saves time and money, and provides peace of mind. With their ongoing support, businesses can navigate the complexities of the UK tax system with confidence and focus on their core operations, knowing that their financial obligations are in expert hands.



Most Important FAQs about Annual Accounts


Q: Can any business in the UK opt out of filing Annual Accounts?

A: No, all limited companies in the UK are legally required to file Annual Accounts, regardless of their size or if they are trading or not.


Q: What is the difference between 'Annual Accounts' and 'Annual Return'?

A: Annual Accounts are financial statements of a company's performance, while an Annual Return (now known as a Confirmation Statement) provides a snapshot of general company information, such as directors and share capital.


Q: How does a change in business structure affect Annual Accounts filing?

A: Changing your business structure, such as from sole trader to limited company, changes your filing requirements. Limited companies have more stringent reporting requirements.


Q: Are digital copies of Annual Accounts acceptable for filing?

A: Yes, digital copies can be filed, especially with the advent of Making Tax Digital (MTD). However, they must meet specific format and content requirements.


Q: What happens if there are errors in the filed Annual Accounts?

A: If errors are discovered after filing, you must prepare and file amended accounts.


Q: Can Annual Accounts be filed in a currency other than GBP?

A: Typically, Annual Accounts should be filed in GBP. However, certain exceptions may apply, especially for multinational companies.


Q: How are consolidated accounts handled for companies with subsidiaries? A: Parent companies must prepare consolidated accounts that include the financials of all subsidiaries.

Q: Is it mandatory to have an auditor's report for all companies?

A: Not all companies require an auditor's report. Exemptions exist for small companies and micro-entities under certain conditions.


Q: Can Annual Accounts be revised once filed?

A: Yes, if errors are found, revised accounts can be filed with Companies House.


Q: What are the implications of filing dormant company accounts?

A: Dormant companies must still file accounts, but these are simpler and just confirm the company had no significant transactions.


Q: How do I know if my company qualifies as a micro-entity?

A: A micro-entity meets certain criteria like having a turnover of less than £632,000 or a balance sheet total under £316,000.


Q: Are there different types of Annual Accounts for different types of companies?

A: Yes, the type of Annual Accounts prepared depends on the size of the company, with different requirements for small businesses, micro-entities, and larger corporations.


Q: How can a company extend its accounting reference period?

A: A company can extend its accounting reference period by notifying Companies House, usually by filing a form, but it can't be done if accounts are overdue.


Q: What is the importance of the Director's report in Annual Accounts?

A: The Director's report provides insights into the company's affairs and future outlook, and is a crucial part of the Annual Accounts for stakeholders.


Q: Are there any exemptions for small companies in filing Annual Accounts? A: Small companies may qualify for certain exemptions like simplified reporting or exemption from audit, depending on their size.


Q: What financial information must be included in a Profit and Loss Account?

A: The Profit and Loss Account should include all revenues, expenses, profits, and losses for the fiscal year.


Q: Can a company file abbreviated accounts?

A: Small companies and micro-entities may file abbreviated accounts, which require less detailed information than full accounts.


Q: What role does a company secretary play in preparing Annual Accounts? A:

A company secretary can play a key role in ensuring that the Annual Accounts are prepared and filed on time, although they are not legally responsible for them.


Q: How does a company’s financial year affect its Annual Accounts filing?

A: The financial year-end date determines the accounting reference date, which in turn affects the deadlines for filing Annual Accounts.


Q: Are electronic signatures acceptable on filed Annual Accounts?

A: Electronic signatures are generally acceptable, but companies should check the latest guidelines from Companies House and HMRC.



Need Help?

We at Pro Tax Accountant, advise you to provide us with your accounting data soon after the financial year is over. This will enable us to prepare your financial statements prior to any deadline. This will ensure that the financial information you receive is more accurate and related to your decision-making process and allows plenty of time to prepare for any tax obligations.


If you want to read more on "Annual Accounts", please click here.




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