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Annual accounts and tax return

Every year (even if your company does not trade), you must file a set of accounts at Companies House. If your company is trading, it must file statutory accounts. If any tax is due, you must send a tax return to HMRC and pay corporation tax. Read this guide to find out more about annual accounts and tax returns for private limited companies.

Last reviewed 1 November 2022.

What are statutory accounts?

You must file a set of accounts for each financial year. Usually, these relate to the 12-month period up to the company’s last accounting reference date. The accounts usually consists of:

  • a profit and loss account (showing the company’s sales, running costs and the profit or loss it has made over the financial year)

  • a balance sheet signed by a director on behalf of the board (showing the value of everything the company owns, owes and is owed on the last day of the financial year)

  • notes to the accounts  

  • a directors’ report signed by a secretary or director (unless you’re a micro-entity - ie a business to which at least two of the following apply: a turnover of £632,000 or less; £316,000 or less on its balance sheet; or 10 employees or less)

  • an auditors’ report signed by the auditors (unless the company is exempt from audit, which depends on the company’s size)

When are statutory accounts submitted?

Once the statutory accounts (also known as ‘annual accounts’) have been signed off by the directors you should send a copy to: 

Existing companies must file the accounts within 9 months of each accounting reference date.

New companies must file their first set of accounts within 21 months of the incorporation date.

If you miss the deadline, you will need to pay a penalty and Companies House can prosecute you or close down your company.

What if I don't file on time? 

The Companies Act 2006 states that company officers (ie directors) of a private limited company are responsible for the delivery of accounts to Companies House. Companies House will typically send a reminder to the company shortly before the filing deadline, which states the last date for filing and outlines the consequences of late delivery. This means that the legal responsibility for accurate and timely filings of the company accounts lies with the company officers. It is a common misconception for people to assume that their accountants should be held responsible when a tax obligation hasn’t been met, however, accountants are just agents of a business.

Is there a fee payable?  

There is no fee payable for filing accounts.   

You must send a Company Tax Return to HMRC and pay any corporation tax due to HMRC. You must file a Company Tax Return even if you don’t need to pay corporation tax or if you’ve made a loss.

You must file the Tax Return 12 months after the end of your accounting period for corporation tax. This is the time your tax return covers and is typically the 12-month period as your company’s financial year, covered by your annual accounts.

You must typically pay any corporation tax due 9 months and 1 day after the end of your accounting period for corporation tax.

The Company Tax Return includes:

  • form CT600
  • corporation tax calculation (and supporting documents if needed)
  • the statutory accounts

You can download HMRC’s detailed guidance on submitting your Company Tax Return

If you miss the deadline, you will need to pay a penalty. If your Tax Return is 6 months late, HMRC will inform you about how much corporation tax they think you owe. This is known as ‘tax determination’ and you cannot appeal against it.