By Esmée Hardwick-Slack
Recent Companies House statistics show that the number of penalties handed out for the late filing of accounts has gone up by nearly 25% since 2014 from 161,902 then to 201,634 in 2017/18. Over those four years, the cost to business has increased from £76m to more than £85m.
The Government agency has warned inefficient businesses that using excuses like “I found my wife in the bath with my accountant” for failing to file their accounts on time will not work. Nick Parker, Senior Enforcement Manager at Companies House has stressed that there is very little excuse for failing to file accounts on time.
“Companies and directors must be aware of their responsibility to file accounts with Companies House, Companies can sign up to receive e-mail reminders, which can be sent to up to four e-mail addresses.
“There will always be unforeseen events that mean a company is unable to file accounts on time. In exceptional circumstances, companies can request an extension to the filing deadline. However, these requests must be received before the filing deadline.”
Here are some of the worst excuses given to Companies House in the last 12 months:
- “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 Valentines’ Day”
- “My company was more successful than I thought it would be, so I was too busy to file”
Unsurprisingly, the companies which gave these excuses received a late filing penalty and their appeals were unsuccessful.
The rules relating to filing are strict and missed deadlines lead to late filing penalties which range from £150 to £1,500 for private limited companies depending on the length of the delay, and £750 to £7,500 for public limited companies. If deadlines are missed for two consecutive years, the cost can double. The directors can find themselves in court over failure to file company accounts and annual returns on time, facing fines of up to £5,000 plus further charges of £500 a day for additional compliance delays.