How to file company accounts?

Contractor’s Question: I’ve read the advice about not leaving it to the last to file one’s company accounts with Companies House. But what are my options in terms of how I, or my accountant, can file the accounts?

Expert’s Answer: Unlike HM Revenue, Companies House doesn’t make you file online. If your company fits the Companies Act 2006 definition of a small company, you can file your accounts online if you wish.

Or you can print them out, sign them, and post them.  Make sure you post them to the correct Companies House address. If your company is registered in England or Wales, use the Cardiff address.  Scottish companies use the Edinburgh address, and Northern Irish companies use, guess what, the Belfast address.

Accounts can’t be faxed or e-mailed, and that Companies House has received them doesn’t mean they accept them!  They can reject accounts if, for example, they are made up to the wrong date. 

What’s a ‘small company’?

Companies House says:

A small company must meet at least two of the following conditions:

  • annual turnover must be not more than  £6.5 million;
  • the balance sheet total must be not more than £3.26 million;
  • the average number of employees must be not more than 50.

The “balance sheet total” is the company’s total assets less its liabilities, as represented on the balance sheet.

A company also can’t qualify as small if it’s:

  • a public company; or
  • a member of an ineligible group; or
  • an authorised insurance company, a banking company, an e-money issuer, a MiFID (i.e. Markets in Financial Instruments Directive) investment firm or a UCITS (i.e. Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities) management company or carried on insurance market activity.

The size of the company not only affects whether you can file your accounts online but also what information your accounts must contain, so if in doubt do check with your accountant. Lastly, please note that you are not able to file your accounts online if you have a limited liability partnership. Such accounts would have to be sent by post.

The expert was Emily Coltman ACA, chief accountant at FreeAgent, a provider of online accounting software for contractors.

Editor’s Note: Further Reading –

Contractors’ Questions: Do I need to display company name on my front door?
New HMRC process for company address change
CUK’s guide to naming a limited company

Tuesday 13th December 2011