When running a limited company, there are certain requirements you need to meet each year in order to comply with the rules, as set out by HMRC and Companies House.
In short, there are two main things you must do each year, submit an annual return and file annual accounts. These are often confused as one of the same thing yet they are very different documents indeed.
The annual accounts are usually compiled by your accountant or bookkeeper and will document all of the income and expenditure of your business. It’s vitally important that this document is correct as it will be used to calculate the amount of tax your company is required to pay. Therefore you would usually be advised against producing this yourself unless you are experienced in preparing annual accounts and are up-to-date on all the latest requirements.
The annual return on the other hand is something much more straightforward and is something you should be able to submit yourself. The annual return is basically a snapshot of your company structure that you need to submit to Companies House to ensure that the records they hold about your business are current and correct.
As the name suggests, you’ll need to file an annual return each year, no later than 1 year and 28 days after the date at which your company was incorporated – which can be found on your incorporation certificate. Subsequent returns must be submitted no later than 1 year and 28 days following your previous annual return submission.
The annual return is very similar in content to the original company application you submitted, in that, it must detail things like the registered office address, details of the directors and shareholders and a breakdown of the number of shares that have been issued. It must also give the address where your company books are kept and can be inspected if this is not the same as the registered office.
This allows Companies House to keep their records up to date and each return must have a ‘made up’ date to signify when the records were last updated.
Preparing and submitting annual returns is a simple process as, like SetUpaCompany, most company formation agents will allow you to do this from their website with just a few clicks. However, you can also submit the return directly via the Companies House web filing system.
If changes have been made to the directors or shareholding structure then it can become a more complex job as you may need to provide documentation to support the changes. However, in most cases the annual return will not take more than a few minutes to complete. All annual returns incur a small admin charge to keep your company listed on the company register.
Providing you submit annual returns and annual accounts on time, you will be free to concentrate on growing your business without incurring any fines or other problems relating to your obligations to Companies House.