Filing Companies House forms – a quick guide
If you’re used to filing Companies House forms then you probably use the online tools that are available and it’s all very easy.
However, if you only file information infrequently it doesn’t look so straight forward and the penalties regime can now make it expensive to miss deadlines.
Filing Companies House forms – there are two questions to address:
- What needs to be filed?
- How can filing be done?
What needs to be filed each year?
In 2016 the Confirmation Statement replaced the Annual Return but they are very similar.
Your annual accounts comprise a Directors’ Report, Profit & Loss account, Balance Sheet and some explanatory notes. These need to be completed, approved by the directors and filed at Companies House within nine months of the year-end. They also have to be submitted to HMRC with your company’s corporation tax return.
Small companies (typically those with sales below £10.2m, though there are other criteria) can prepare “abridged accounts” which are simpler to produce but the directors will need to obtain the approval of the shareholders each year to do so.
Whether they produce full or abridged accounts, small companies have the option of not filing a Directors’ Report or the profit & Loss account at Companies House.
Probably of greater relevance to many businesses – Micro-Entities (typically those with sales below £632k though there are other criteria) can produce and file simpler accounts that meet statutory minimum requirements.
Our recommendation for companies with turnover below £600k is to see if they can prepare “Micro” accounts as these are simpler and cheaper to prepare.
There is no charge for filing accounts and overwhelmingly most small companies file the least information they are allowed to.
There are penalties for late filing, starting at £150 for being less than a month late and £375 for being less than three months late. File later still and the penalties rise to £1,500 and they are doubled if you are late two years in a row.
Find out more about small companies, micro entities and late filing penalties at the Companies House website.
Introduced in June 2016 to replace the old Annual Return, the Confirmation Statement (CS01) is a list of standing data including:
- Registered office
- Directors’ names
- People with Significant Control
The big change introduced in 2016 is that companies now have to keep a register of People with Significant Control “PSC”s. In practice for most private companies this is simply the shareholders but where there are trustee shareholders or where the constitution of the company confers on a non-shareholder a right to exercise significant control over the company then the people with the control have to be included on the PSC register and included in the filing of the Confirmation Statement.
A PSC is a person who:
- holds, directly or indirectly, more than 25% of the shares;
- holds, directly or indirectly, more than 25% of the voting rights;
- holds the right, directly or indirectly, to appoint or remove a majority of directors;
- otherwise has the right to exercise, or actually exercises, significant influence or control over the company;
- has the right to exercise, or actually exercises, significant influence or control over the activities of a trust or firm which is not a legal person, the trustees or members of which would satisfy any of the four conditions above.
The Confirmation Statement is drawn up at the same date each year, usually close to the anniversary of the company being formed and not necessarily bearing any relationship to the company’s year-end date.
Although there’s no fine or penalty for filing the Confirmation Statement a little late, if Companies House don’t receive it in good time they will threaten to wind up your company and levy a fine of up to £5,000 if it is not filed soon.
The Confirmation Statement has a filing fee of £13 if it’s filed online and this rises to £40 if it is submitted on paper!
Ad hoc filing of Companies House forms
The annual accounts and Confirmation Statement are the two documents that must be filed every year.
However, there are other documents to be filed when important changes are made to a company. For example when directors are appointed or resign and if a company borrows money and there is a charge placed on its assets. There are also forms for changing your company’s name.
It’s important to keep up to date with your company’s filings, but how best to do it?
How can filing be done?
You can see which forms are available to be filed online and also get a list of the paper versions from the Companies House website. The paper versions usually exist as PDF files that you can fill in on your computer and print them for signing and posting.
However, as you can see from the different fees for filing Confirmation Statement, Companies House is encouraging companies to file online and this is the nub of a recent initiative from Companies House – the Protected Online Filing or PROOF service.
Companies House offers its PROOF service as a way to file online and reduce the risk of fraud. If you sign up to PROOF certain forms can only be submitted online to stop fraudulently signed paper forms being submitted.
This is fine, but sometimes, especially where it’s important that a person is seen to have signed a form (in a dispute, for example) it might suit everyone that a physically signed form is completed, copied and submitted in the post.
The administration of filing a form online is that you need to obtain from Companies House a Security Code and an Authentication Code. Armed with these codes you can access the Companies House online filing system and file what you need to. Where you need to pay a fee you can do so by credit card or, like we do, open an account with Companies House, charge fees to the account and settle it once a month by direct debit.
Annual accounts filing
Provided your accounts have not been audited, you can file your annual accounts online via the Companies House website.
Nevertheless, it will usually be much, much simpler to ask your accountant to do it. Our accounts preparation software allows us to file clients’ accounts online once we have received the physically signed copy and the whole process is quick, clean and doesn’t allow room for data entry errors. It’s very much the path of least resistance.
Filing Companies House forms is something every company has to do.
Do as much online as you can, not least because where there are fees (Confirmation Statement or changing your company’s name) it’s cheaper.
Online filing is also much quicker and gives a more professional impression of your company to anyone, such as a potential investor, doing a company search.
The Companies House people are incredibly helpful when you ring them, so if you find yourself needing further help with Companies House filing, why not give them a call on 0303 1234 500?
And now you can stay up to date with your company’s records by using the Companies House app. Download it now!
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