All actively trading companies must file annual accounts with Companies House and an annual tax return with HM Revenue and Customs, and your new business is no exception. If you don't have an accountant on hand to take care of your tax obligations, here's a breakdown of the key deadlines you need to prepare for.
When you first set up a new limited company, you’ll automatically have different deadlines for Companies House and HMRC. These can be changed in the future so that the dates coincide with each other, but for your first year, you’ll need to be on the ball.
1. Filing annual accounts at Companies House
Every year, all limited companies are legally required to complete annual accounts. Your annual accounts should include a profit and loss statement, a balance sheet, notes about the accounts, a director’s report, an auditor’s report and the name and signature of the relevant company directors (you may not have to include everything on this list if you’re eligible for exemptions due to the size of the company or other reasons).
Companies House automatically creates a financial year-end for your company when you incorporate. This is set to be the last day of the month your company was registered. Filing for your annual accounts is usually 9 months after the end of your accounting period, except for the first year.
An example of annual account deadlines:
- You incorporate your company on 16th July 2020
- Your accounting reference date will be 31st July for every year after your first filing. Your filing deadline is 9 months after the accounting reference date i.e. 30th April.
- Your deadline for filing your first statutory accounts with Companies House is 21 months from the date of incorporation so will be 15th April 2022
- The deadline for your second filing will be 30th April 2023 and will continue to be 30th April each year afterwards unless you decide to change the accounting period.
You can choose to change your accounting period if needed. You can bring it forward by as many months as you want, as frequently as you would like. However, you can only extend your year-end by a maximum of 18 months, once every 5 years.
If you miss the deadline for filing your annual accounts, the penalty ranges from £150 – £1,500 depending on how late you are.
2. Confirmation Statement due at Companies House
Every company must send a Confirmation Statement to Companies House every year. The Confirmation Statement confirms to Companies House that the information they hold about your company is up-to-date.
The Confirmation Statement needs to include details of your registered office, names and addresses of directors, a statement of capital and shareholder information, the company’s SIC code and a register of ‘people with significant control’.
A SIC code is a Standard Industrial Classification code and is used to define your company's economic activity. Consisting of five numbers, a SIC code helps to identify what exactly it is your company sells and provides to consumers.
The due date is usually 12 months after the incorporation of your company or the date you filed your last Confirmation Statement, and then it should be filed at least once a year.
For example: If you registered on 1st January, then it will be due on 1st January the following year and you will have 14 days after this date to deliver the statement to Companies House.
Late penalty fines do not apply to an overdue Confirmation Statement. However, Companies House may start the process of striking off your company if your Confirmation Statement is late.
3. Filing a company tax return with HMRC
The company tax return must be completed and submitted to HMRC together with a financial report and calculation to declare how much tax is due to be paid by your company.
Keep in mind that even if your company has made a loss, or if you have no Corporation Tax to pay, you still need to file. Your company tax return is due 12 months after the end of your accounting period. You will receive the dates of your accounting period by post once you have your company registered with HMRC.
For example: If you first incorporated on 1st January 2021 but you choose 31st March 2022 as the end date for your accounting period, your overall accounting period for the first year spans 15 months.
Your first company tax return will therefore need to cover the period between 1st January 2021 to 31st December 2021 and the second will cover the period from 1st January 2022 to 31st March 2022.
Both will be due at the same time, which is 31st March 2023 (12 months after the end of the accounting period).
As you might expect, there are fines for filing late:
- 1 day late - you will be issued with a £100 fine.
- More than 3 months late - you will be issued to pay a further £100.
- Six months late - HMRC will estimate your corporation tax bill and add 10% of the bill as a penalty.
- 12 months late - another 10% of the tax liability.
Where you miss your company tax return deadline three times in a row, the automatic £100 fine increases to £500 from the first day it’s late.
4. Paying your corporation tax to HMRC
Paying Corporation Tax on any profits your small business makes if it’s registered as a limited company is a legal requirement. After filing your accounts with HMRC, you’ll need to pay Corporation Tax on any profits for the financial year.
You must pay your corporation tax 9 months and 1 day after the end of your accounting period. Your accounting period is usually your financial year, but you may have 2 accounting periods in the year you set up your company.
Using the same example once again of the 1st January 2021 incorporation date and the 31st March 2022 as the end of the accounting period, your first corporation tax payment will be due on 1st October 2022 (9 months and 1 day after 31st December 2021). Your next corporation tax payment will then be due on 1st January 2023 which is 9 months and 1 day after 31st March 2022.
If you pay your Corporation Tax late, do not pay enough, or do not pay at all, HMRC will charge your company interest. Interest is charged from the day after the tax should have been paid (i.e. normally 9 months and 1 day after the end of your accounting period). The current corporation tax late payment rate is set at 2.75%.
About the Author
Simon Thomas is the Founder and Managing Director of Ridgefield Consulting - Oxford’s leading independent accountancy firm. Simon has over 15 years’ experience as a chartered accountant and founded Ridgefield Consulting in 2010 after working for EY, one of the big four accountancy firms in London and the UK. Ridgefield Consulting offers a wide range of guidance on Coronavirus support schemes for businesses, proudly earning more 5* Google reviews than any other accountancy firm in Oxford.