What happens if my accounts are filed late?

pig out of time

In a previous article last month, we covered accounting periods and the various associated deadlines. But what happens if you miss one of these deadlines and your accounts are filed late?

Companies House recently issued a press release to remind companies to keep on top of their filing responsibilities. The 30th September marked a common deadline for many companies who will need to file their company accounts with a 31 December 2018 year-end date. Last year, there were 25,049 companies which failed to meet the 30 September 2018 filing deadline.

In fact, we are told that another 643 companies narrowly avoided a penalty. They actually filed their accounts in the final hour before the deadline. In total, 223,640 late filing penalties were handed out in 2018.

“You need to file your first accounts 21 months after you incorporate the company and, in subsequent years, 9 months after the financial year ends. Corporation tax is then due 9 months and 1 day after your accounting period ends. You must also submit a Company Tax Return (also called CT600) 12 months after your accounting period ends.”

Companies House also published some of the bizarre excuses it has received for late filings including:

  • pirates stole my accounts
  • a volcano erupted
  • slugs ate my accounts

Penalties from HMRC

HMRC impose late filing penalties to encourage companies to file their accounts and reports on time. The penalties for late submission by a private limited company are as follows:

How late are the accounts? Penalty
Less than one month £150
More than one month but less than three months £375
More than three months but less than six months £750
More than six months £1,500

The penalty is issued automatically if your accounts are filed late and the penalties are doubled if your accounts are late 2 years in a row.

Furthermore, failure to file confirmation statements or accounts is a criminal offence and company directors can be personally fined in the criminal courts. Late penalties which remain unpaid are referred to collection agents and could result in a County Court judgement or a Sheriff Court decree against your company.

It is possible to appeal against a penalty, but there are strict circumstances for doing so including that you must be able to prove that the circumstances were outside of your control.

There are no penalties for filing your confirmation statement late, but Companies House can potentially strike off your company from the register if the submission is too late, or regularly late.

If you would like any help ensuring your accounts are not filed late, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for a free consultation.