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Guide to Limited Company Accounts
If you own, or act as the director of, a limited company, you are responsible for filing your annual statutory accounts. Limited company accounts are just a normal part of doing business in the UK. Preparing and filing them is not especially complicated, but it is important that company owners and directors understand what is required of them. Failing to file company accounts properly could lead to penalties.
In this guide you will learn what limited company accounts are, why you need to prepare them, who they need to be filed with, and the consequences for failing to do so. Needless to say, there is quite a bit that goes into understanding company accounts. But once you understand the principles, preparation and filing is fairly straightforward.
Definition of Company Accounts
There is no official definition of company accounts as such, but we can define what they are based on what government guidance says. According to the GOV.UK website, company accounts “are prepared from the company’s financial records at the end of your company’s financial year.”
Also known as ‘statutory accounts’, limited company accounts are simply an official reckoning of the company’s financial position at the end of the year. The plural ‘accounts’ indicates that different forms of financial accounting are submitted to different entities. There are four entities involved:
Take note that the law stipulates different requirements for small companies and micro-entities as compared to large companies. If you own or direct a small company or micro-entity, you are required to prepare three sets of company accounts known as:
Owners or directors of micro-entities are allowed to prepare and file less detailed accounts than their small business counterparts. To help you better understand how your business is classified, the definition of both small companies and micro-entities is offered in the next section of this guide.
Why Limited Company Accounts Are Needed
The easy way to explain why limited company accounts are needed is to simply say that the law requires it. But there is more to it than that. Limited companies are public entities inasmuch as they are owned by business entities rather than people. As such, the general public has the right to access company information – including financials.
By preparing financial information and submitting it to interested parties, a limited company is offering full disclosure to the general public. The vast majority of the general public will not be interested in the financials of any one company, but company accounts make that information available to anyone who has a genuine need to see it.
Preparing Company Accounts: The Work Involved
Preparing company accounts is a matter of producing a bit of paperwork. There are three documents required of all limited companies regardless of their size, plus two additional documents that are only required of companies of a certain size. Here are descriptions of all five:
Once all the accounts have been prepared, they are submitted to the appropriate entities. Submissions to HMRC and Companies House can be completed online or by filing paper documents.
Penalties for Not Filing Company Accounts
The law allows for financial penalties against companies that fail to file company accounts on time. A private limited company filing up to one month late can be charged a £150 penalty. Additional penalties apply as follows:
While these penalties are serious enough by themselves, they are just the start. Penalties can be doubled if a company is late more than two years in a row. Furthermore, the Government reserves the right to remove a company from the register if Companies House consistently fails to receive company accounts or confirmation statements.
Limited company accounts are part of doing business in the UK. Make sure you understand what they are and how to prepare them so that you can protect your limited company.