Covid-19 – Holiday for business accounts
The Government has confirmed that from 25th March 2020, businesses will be able to apply for a 3-month extension for filing their accounts at Companies House due to COVID-19.
This initiative has been jointly agreed between the Government and Companies House. The rationale behind the initiative is to allow businesses to focus all of their efforts on dealing with the impact of Covid-19 by easing the administrative burden which comes with running a business.
All businesses registered with Companies House must submit their accounts and reports each year by the prescribed deadline. This deadline depends on whether you are filing your first accounts since incorporation or subsequent accounts. The process of preparing and filing the accounts is often labelled an administrative burden as it can be a distraction from the day to day running of the business.
In order to alleviate the cost and time spent on preparing accounts, businesses that are facing difficulties due to COVID-19 will be able to apply for a 3-month extension to be granted. We understand that any request citing issues around COVID-19 will be automatically and immediately granted. However, businesses that have already extended their filing deadline, or shortened their accounting reference period may not be eligible for an extension.
How to make an application to Companies House
Applications can be made through a fast-tracked online system which should take 15 minutes to complete. To process the application you will need to have to hand information about the extension reasons (i.e. due to COVID-19), any documents supporting the application, an email address and the company number. Guidance on how to apply is set out here.
When to apply?
Businesses must ensure that they apply for the extension in advance of their filing deadline to avoid the risk of an automatic late filing penalty.
The normal rule is that if businesses file their accounts at Companies House late, they are issued with an automatic penalty. The amount of which is determined based on the length of the period between the date that the accounts are due and the date in which they are eventually filed. If businesses do not apply for an extension and their accounts are filed late, the automatic penalty will be imposed. The Registrar of Companies has very little discretion not to collect a penalty.
If an extension is granted, businesses they must file their accounts at Companies House before the new due date to avoid a late filing penalty. The extension will not change the date due for the businesses’ future accounts.
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