Not ready to file your company tax return or annual accounts yet? Learn how to request an extension for your company accounts.
As the owner of a limited company, you’re pulled in a million different directions every day, especially when it’s time to file your annual accounts and company tax return. While you may have the best intentions of filing your company accounts and return before the filing deadline, sometimes getting this together in time can be challenging.
Depending on the reason, Companies House and HMRC may allow you to have your company accounts deadline extended. There’s some important information you’ll need and key contact details to be aware of. We’ve put together a guide to asking for an extension to the filing deadline for your annual accounts and company tax return.
Let’s begin with a recap of what company accounts you need to file each year, when the filing deadlines are, and the penalty charges for filing late.
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What You Need to File
At the end of your limited company’s financial year, you need to prepare the following:
- Your annual accounts
- A company tax return
This is so you can meet the deadlines for filing with Companies House and HMRC and calculate how much corporation tax your limited company needs to pay.
Your accounting period for corporation tax is the time covered in your company tax return. This is usually the same 12 months covered by your annual accounts.
You need to file a company tax return even if your company makes a loss or has no corporation tax to pay.
You don’t need to file a company tax return if you’re a sole trader or in a partnership. Instead, you’ll need to submit a self-assessment tax return.
When you file your company tax return, you work out your:
- Profit or loss for corporation tax (which is different from the profit or loss your annual accounts show)
- Corporation tax bill
You can file your return by yourself or hire an accountant to help you.
You can file your annual accounts and company tax return with Companies House and HMRC separately, or together if your business doesn’t need an auditor. Here’s what you need to do in each of these scenarios:
- File your annual accounts and tax return together: Use HMRC’s online service or accounting software
- File your annual accounts with Companies House separately: Send your accounts to Companies House online
- File your tax return with HMRC separately: Use HMRC’s online service or accounting software
When Are the Filing Deadlines?
The filing deadlines for your annual accounts and company tax return are:
- Filing your first accounts with Companies House: 21 months after the date you registered with Companies House
- File annual accounts with Companies House: 9 months after the end of your company’s financial year
- Pay corporation tax or inform HMRC your limited company doesn’t owe any: 9 months and 1 day after your accounting period for corporation tax ends
- File a company tax return: 12 months after your accounting period for corporation tax ends
If you miss any of these filing deadlines, your company risks being charged a penalty.
Penalties With Companies House
Companies House will charge you a penalty if you file your accounts late. The amount they’ll charge will depend on how late you are filing.
The charges are:
- £150 for up to 1 month
- £375 for 1–3 months
- £750 for 3–6 months
- £1,500 for more than 6 months
These charges apply to private limited companies. There are different penalties for public limited companies.
You’ll receive a penalty notice automatically if you’re late filing. And your penalty amount will double if you file late 2 years in a row.
Your company can be struck off the register if you don’t send your accounts or confirmation statement to Companies House.
You can appeal against a penalty by:
- Giving a specific reason for not filing your accounts on time
- Including relevant details, such as dates and times
- Proving the situation wasn’t in your control, such as having an accident shortly before your accounts were due
You can request help for your appeal from Companies House if you have a health condition or a disability.
Your appeal isn’t likely to succeed if:
- These are your first accounts
- Your company is dormant
- Your company is a charity or flat management company
- You can’t afford to pay
- Another director is responsible for filing your accounts
- Your accountant (or someone else) is responsible for the delay
- You don’t know when, or how, to file your accounts
- Your accounts were delayed or lost in the post
- The director lives, or is travelling, overseas
You should send your appeal request to Companies House via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by post to the address on the envelope you received. Make sure you include your penalty reference.
You should receive a response within 20 working days. Your penalty won’t be collected whilst Companies House is considering your appeal.
Challenge an Unsuccessful Appeal
You can challenge your appeal if it’s rejected and if you have additional evidence to support your case. Write to the senior casework manager dealing with your appeal in the Late Filing Penalties Department at the Companies House office, which handles your account.
If your appeal to the casework manager is unsuccessful, you can try writing to independent adjudicators and ask them to review your case. If the latter is also unsuccessful, try applying to the Registrar of Companies at the office that handles your account.
The registrar won’t review your appeal if you don’t follow this process.
Penalties With HMRC
HMRC also charges penalties if you file your company tax return late.
The penalty charges are:
- £100 for 1 day
- Another £100 for 3 months
- 10% of your unpaid corporation tax bill for 6 months
- Another 10% of your unpaid corporation tax bill for 12 months
The £100 penalties increase to £500 each if your tax return is late 3 times in a row. And if your return is more than 6 months late, HMRC will write to you explaining how much corporation tax they think you need to pay. This is called a tax determination, and you can’t appeal against it.
You must pay any tax owed and file your tax return. HMRC will recalculate the penalties and interest you owe.
You can appeal against a late filing penalty if you have a reasonable excuse. Write to your company’s Corporation Tax office. To find the address, check your recent letters and tax forms, or call the corporation tax helpline on 0300 200 3410. You’ll need your 10-digit unique taxpayer reference (UTR) number.
Apply to Extend Your Accounts Filing Deadline
You should apply to extend your accounts filing deadline if there’s an event outside of your control. But you must do this before your filing deadline.
Companies House will then consider your application and make a decision about your request. They’ll email you if this is successful or if they need more information from you.
If they agree to extend your deadline, you must file your account before this new date or face a late filing penalty. This won’t change any future account deadline dates.
How to Apply for an Extension
Apply for an extension online by going to the Companies House sign-in page. From there, you’ll need your:
- Company number
- Reasons why you need more time
- Documents that can support your application
Apply by Post
Alternatively, you can apply for an extension by writing to Companies House. You’ll need to explain what’s going on and how much more time you’ll need to file your accounts.
Make sure you write to the address where your company is registered:
COMPANIES HOUSE ENGLAND AND WALES
COMPANIES HOUSE SCOTLAND
Edinburgh Quay 2
DX ED235 Edinburgh 1
COMPANIES HOUSE NORTHERN IRELAND
32-38 Linehall Street
DX481 N.R. Belfast 1
The Bottom Line
Companies House and HMRC have procedures in place if you request an extension to the deadline for filing your annual accounts and company tax return. And if filing returns isn’t your greatest strength, you can always get help from an accountant or tax adviser.
This post was updated in December 2023.