Late filing of company accounts – the penalties

Many business owners know that sinking feeling when the time for filing company accounts looms on the horizon. It comes around all too quickly, and as non-compliance is a criminal offence, the penalties are severe. 

A company’s officers, who are personally responsible for ensuring the relevant information is provided on time, could be liable for prosecution and the registrar at Companies House could strike the company off the register, meaning any assets become the property of the Crown, and any liabilities can fall upon the directors personally.

Every company has to prepare accounts annually which report on its performance and activities during the previous year. In normal circumstances, the accounts must be submitted to Companies House within nine months after the accounting period ends for private limited companies (Ltds), and six months for Public Limited Companies (PLCs). For the first year, the deadline is 21 months from the date of incorporation for Ltds and 18 months for PLCs. 

Failure to file on time leads to penalties:
For a private company:

  • Up to a month late – £150
  • Over a month but not more than three months late – £375
  • More than three months but less than six months – £750
  • More than six months – £1500

For a public company are:

  • Up to a month late – £750
  • Over a month but not more than three months late – £1500
  • More than three months but less than six months – £3000
  • More than six months – £7500

These fines double if accounts are late two years in succession.

 There’s a raft of legislation which company directors need to be familiar with in order to comply, and ignorance of deadlines isn’t an excuse that Companies House will accept. Its recent blog detailed some of the excuses given during 2018 which included ‘a goat ate my accounts’, ‘a volcano erupted’ and ‘I found my wife in the bath with my accountant’. Needless to say none of these were deemed acceptable!

The latest figures show that by far the worst area in the UK for late filing of company accounts is London. 56,180 companies filed late there in the financial year 2016/17, nearly 50,000 more than the next area, Birmingham. In the same year, total penalty revenue hit £93.7 million.

We assist numerous London companies with their annual filing of accounts, and we can guarantee they will be presented in plenty of time. If you run a business, particularly an SME, in the capital, it can be a daunting prospect finding the right accountant. At Perrys, we like to see ourselves as ‘local in London’, providing an expert and friendly service perfectly tailored to your requirements in the way that a larger and more impersonal firm might not be able to manage. Get in touch with our teams at Threadneedle Street and Mayfair and experience our professional and helpful city service, or contact us for more details.