“Hi, is that Companies House? It’s regarding my annual accounts – I’ve just caught my accountant in the bath with my wife, so won’t be able to file them on time.” Is this a plausible excuse for late submission? It was for one director. Find out the strangest excuses received by Companies House from businesses trying to swerve a financial penalty.
At the end of your limited company’s financial year, full (“statutory”) annual accounts need to be prepared for filing with Companies House. Directors then have nine months after the financial year ends to submit accounts.
Companies House will only allow extensions to the deadline under two criteria:
- An event you could not control stops you from sending your accounts
- You apply for more time before the filing deadline
The cost of a late filing penalty depends on how late accounts were submitted and the status of the company. The government offers a basic penalty structure for late submissions.
Time after deadline
Penalty (for private limited companies)
|Up to 1 month||£150|
|1 to 3 months||£375|
|3 to 6 months||£750|
|Over 6 months||£1,500|
Late submission penalties double if accounts are late two years in a row.
Nonetheless, Companies House is met with weird and wonderful excuses every year as directors try to buy time and avoid a financial penalty.
8 most bizarre excuses received by Companies House
- “Goats ate my accounts”
- “I found my wife in the bath with my accountant”
- “Pirates stole my accounts”
- “We delivered the accounts to the betting office next door to Companies House”
- “A volcano erupted and prevented me from filing”
- “Slugs ate my accounts”
- “It was Valentine’s Day”
- “My company was more successful than I thought it would be, so I was too busy to file”
Companies House stated that each of the above appeals were unsuccessful, and a late filing penalty was applied in every case.
After the worst excuses had been published, Nick Parker, senior enforcement manager at Companies House, said company directors “must be aware” of their responsibilities, reminding them that up to four email addresses can be registered to receive reminders.
“There will always be unforeseen events that mean a company is unable to file accounts on time,” he added.
“In exceptional circumstances, companies can request an extension to the filing deadline, however these requests must be received before the filing deadline.”
“Most companies can file accounts electronically – it’s faster and easier. The Companies House WebFiling service has in-built checks to ensure that all the relevant information is provided before a customer can submit. It also provides filers with automatic e-mail “confirmation that accounts have been received and once they have been accepted for filing.”
Other excuses Companies House won’t accept
- Your company is dormant
- You can’t afford to pay
- It was your accountant’s (or anybody else’s) fault
- You didn’t know when or how to file your accounts
- Your accounts were delayed or lost in the post
- The directors live or were travelling overseas
Businesses considered “micro-entities” are afforded a handful of benefits. Micro-entities must have two of the following:
- Turnover of £632,000 or less
- £316,000 or less on its balance sheet
- 10 or fewer employees
- Prepare simpler accounts that meet statutory minimum requirements
- Send only a balance sheet with less information to Companies House
- Benefit from the same exemptions available to “small companies”
Head to GOV.UK to find out exactly what your company needs to prepare in its accounts.
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