If you are operating a limited company then you probably know that your accounts have to be filed at Companies House nine months after the end of your accounting year end – unless it’s the first year when the filing deadline is 21 months after the date of incorporation.
This usually gives sufficient time to get things in order, do the necessary bookkeeping and file the accounts with the authorities.
However sometimes people find themselves up against the deadline for whatever reason which means that the prospect of a late filing fine is very real.
HACK – how to extend your filing deadline
If you do find yourself in this situation then of course the best advice is to try to get things filed on time.
However if that cannot happen then there is a little known hack that allows you to get a 3 month extension to your filing deadline.
Shorten your year end date (also known as your accounting reference date)
All you need to do is shorten the accounting reference date (year end) by just one day.
In fact if you do this the rules allow you to make your accounts up to 7 days either side of the accounting reference date. So in effect you can make the accounts up as usual.
When the accounting reference date is shorten the new deadline for filing the accounts at Companies House becomes the longer of:
- 9 months from the new accounting reference date (for a private company)
- 3 months from the date of receipt of the form AA01 which is used to change the accounting reference date
Source: Companies House accounts guidance
A company has a Year End (Accounting Reference Date) of 31st December 2022
This means that the Companies House filing deadline is 30th September 2023
The accounts were going to be late so the director filed an electronic AA01 form on 20th September 2023 which was received by Companies House the same date
This moved the filing deadline from 30th September 2023 to 20th December 2023
Conditions do apply
The accounting reference date (year end) can be changed for the company’s current financial year or the one immediately before it. The date can be shortened as many times as you like with the minimum period you can shorten it by being one day.
Different rules apply to lengthening the year end.
The accounting reference date is changed by using the form AA01 which can be filed online or sent to Companies House. It’s best to file this form online. You will need the company Authentication Code to do this.
The change to the accounting reference date form AA01 must be received by Companies House BEFORE the accounts are due.
So you cannot use this hack if you’ve allowed the filing deadline to pass.
Don’t forget that you also have to file the Accounts and Corporation Tax Return (known as the CT600) at HMRC. The CT600 has to be filed 12 months after the end of the accounting period or you’ll incur a £100 late filing penalty in addition to any Companies House fines.
If you are late paying your Corporation Tax then you will incur interest. The Corporation Tax is due 9 months and one day after the end of the accounting period and you’ll usually need the CT600 to find out how much to pay – which makes the 12 months deadline for the CT600 a bit of a dumb deadline really.
Companies House Fines
It’s worth remembering that the fines imposed by Companies House for late filing are quite ruthless and well worth avoiding.
|Filing delayed by
|Not more than 1 month
|More than 1 month but not more than 3 months
|More than 3 months but not more than 6 months
|More than 6 months
If you are late in the second year the fine is doubled on the basis that you should have learnt your lesson!