Annual Return vs Company Accounts

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Annual Return vs Company Accounts

© 2015 by Jon Chapple, BA ACA

Often we get emails from clients who write something like "Companies House have written to us telling us the Annual Return needs to be filed in the next few weeks. Why are they writing so soon after the company year end, I thought the company had 9 months AFTER the year end to prepare and file its Company Accounts?"

The AnnualReturn and the Company Accounts are two completely different things.  Key differences are set out below:

1. Summary


Annual Return

Company Accounts


Statistical information about the company

Financial information about the company's performance

Filing deadline

One month after the "Made Up Date" - which is the anniversary of incorporation

Nine months after the company year end (the company year end is aka the "Accounting reference date")

Financial penalties for late filing


Yes - see below

2. More detail:


The Annual Return contains certain simple statistical company data as at the "Made Up Date".

The Made Up Date is the anniversary of incorporation.

The Annual Return states, as at the Made Up Date, the directors and shareholders of the company, the Registered Address, and the type of activities undertaken by the company.

The Annual Return filing deadline is one month after the Made Up Date.

There are no financial penalties for a late filed Annual Return, though if the Annual Return remains unfiled after the filing deadline has passed and reminders are ignored, the Registrarat Companies House may start proceedings to strike the company off.

Our Terms of Engagement letter addresses the Annual Return usually at around item 3 in the "What we agree to do for you" section.


The Company Accounts (also known as the "Annual Accounts") are also filed annually - which is where the confusion with the Annual Return arises.

The Company Accounts contain financial data relating to the company's performance - its Profit & Loss account and Balance Sheet etc.

The Company accounting year end (also called the "Accounting Reference Date") is the last day of the month of the anniversary of incorporation. For example if a company is incorporated on any day in March 2014, its first accounts will be drawn up to 31 March 2015, and annually thereafter.

The Company Accounts filing deadline is 9 months after the Company Accounting year end.

There ARE financial penalties for late filed Company Accounts - £150 for accounts filed   between 1 day and 1 month late, rising to £375 for accounts filed 1 - 3 months late, and £750 for 3 - 6 months late.

Our Terms of Engagement letter addresses the Company Accounts at item 1 in the "What we agree to do for you" section.


Jon Chapple
13 April 2015