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Your company annual accounts – the basics, and filing deadlines

As a limited company director, you must ensure that your company’s accounts are prepared following the end of each financial year, and meet the filing deadlines for both Companies House and HMRC.

When are my limited company accounts due?

Your initial Accounting Reference Date (ARD) – which governs when your company’s annual accounts are due – will usually be set to the last day of the month in which your company was incorporated.

So, if you incorporated on 17th August 2014, your filing deadline will be set to the last day in August each year, unless you subsequently change the date (see below).

So, your financial year will end on 31st August each year in this example, and your company has 9 months from this date to submit your annual accounts to Companies House.

For new companies, the deadline is longer – your first accounts must be submitted no later than 21 months following the date of incorporation.

What documents do I need to provide?

A small company’s statutory accounts should include:

  • A profit and loss (P&L) account.
  • Balance sheet (signed by the director).
  • Any associated notes.
  • A signed director’s report.

Your accountant is only required to send an abbreviated version of these statutory accounts to Companies House (including just the balance sheet) – which means that only limited financial information will appear on the public record.

Interestingly (and confusingly), you don’t need to send the full statutory accounts to HMRC with your Corporation Tax Return (CT600) until 12 months after your company year end, but you do need to pay any Corporation Tax you owe within 9 months and one day.

You must also distribute a copy of your full accounts to any shareholders.

Can you change your Accounting Reference Date?

There may be reasons why you (or more likely, your accountant) decide to change your company’s year end, although you would need to inform Companies House before your existing deadline.

To achieve this, you or your accountant would need to fill in Form AA01 – previously known as Form 225 (you can download a PDF here), and submit it to Companies House – typically via the WebFiling system.

There are a few rules you should be aware of if you’re thinking of adjusting your ARD:

  • You can shorten the company’s ARD as many times as you like – so your new filing deadline for the period in question would become either a) nine months after the new ARD, or b) three months following the date the Form AA01 was received by Companies House – whichever provides you with the longer time to file.
  • You can only extend your filing deadline once every five years in normal circumstances (the main exception – an unlikely one – is when your company is under administration).
  • You cannot extend an accounting period so that it lasts more than 18 months.

Further information

We do suggest that you leave any changes to your ARD to your accountant, and ask them for help if you have any questions about your annual accounts, and the submission deadlines.

Last updated: 8th October 2017