The worst part about starting, or owning, a business is dealing with your accounts. But if you own a limited company, they’re something you need to get used to pretty quickly.
If any of your accounts are late, or inaccurate, there are big fines to face. And yet, no matter how many times businesses are warned, there are thousands that fail to deliver. In fact, it was reported that businesses in London and Birmingham have been some of the top offenders for filing accounts late, with over 200,000 UK companies facing hefty fines for missing the Companies House deadline in 2019.
Your year end accounts are a pretty big one to get under control. Whether you chose to do it alone, or work with a trusted accountant, we’ve put everything you’ll need into this handy year end accounting checklist.
Let’s get down to business, shall we?
What are end of year accounts?
Year end is the end of your company’s accounting period. Also called the accounting reference date, the period at the end of which the financial records of your company are closed and the statutory accounts are filed with HMRC and Companies House.
It will normally include information such as:
This is a document written by the company directors, summarising the business’ performance over the year with their views of its current position and how they think it will perform in the future.
This gives details of the company’s assets and liabilities at the end of the accounting period.
Profit & Loss
This gives a summary of income and expenses and gives the total amount of profit or loss over the accounting period.
This is a commentary and explanation on the details of the profit and loss account and balance sheet.
If you have a limited company, you are legally required to file your end of year accounts with both HMRC and Companies House.
If you’re not happy with having that as a requirement of a limited company, you can opt to register as a sole trader instead. As a sole trader, you’ll have fewer legal obligations and won’t have to complete end of year accounts. You will, however, have to submit a self-assessment tax return.
Not sure what’s the right choice for you? Take a look at our guide highlighting the pros and cons of being a sole trader vs a limited company.
Get a free quote from an accountant near you:
Your year end accounting checklist
Ready to tackle this task? Let’s get started with your year end accounting checklist.
1. Get your financial statements
First up, you need to take a look at your current financial information. This means collecting your financial statements, including your:
- Income, or profit and loss statement. This summarises your revenue and expenses and lists all of the money you’ve gained and spent throughout the year. It will include expenses such as tax, operating expenses, depreciation, revenue and the cost of goods sold.
- Cash flow statement. This shows the businesses ingoing and outgoing cash, excluding your credit. This statement focuses exclusively on your cash flow, which may highlight if you are spending more than you’re bringing in.
- Balance sheet. This shows your assets, liabilities, and equity and tracks your company’s financial progress. Your liabilities and equality should always be the same amount as your assets, so it doesn’t add up you’ll need to rebalance your books.
If you use accounting or bookkeeping software, this step should be a breeze for you to complete.
These statements are also essential for checking over your performance and forecasting your financial future.
2. Collect due invoices
Your year end accounts act as a reflection of your businesses financial performance over the past year. In order to wrap the year up properly, you should try and collect all outstanding invoices to square all of your accounts.
If you’re having trouble collecting overdue invoices, you may want to contact the client to work out an alternative payment plan or enlist the help of debt collection agencies. However, bringing in a 3rd party will mean that a portion of this invoice will go to them.
3. Sort your paperwork
All of your records, receipts and documentation need to be properly stored and backed up. Before you submit your year end accounts, spend time making sure that every receipt is accounted for and in its right place.
This can be an incredibly difficult and time-consuming task if you’re doing everything by hand and on paper. To speed up this process, you may want to invest in accounting or bookkeeping software to help store all of these records for you.
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What do accountants need for year end?
If you don’t want to do your year end accounts by yourself, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort by getting an accountant on board to take care of this process for you.
In order to file your year end accounts, your accountant will need access to all of your financial records and information. So, do you remember everything mentioned in that list before? Your account will need that.
But once your accountant has this information, they’ll be able to connect the dots, spot any errors and organise all of your papers to make sure everything is in order and submitted correctly and on time. That saves you a lot of hassle and ensures that you’ll never get fined for late submissions.
The only thing your accountant can’t do is chase up your late invoices. They are after all accountants and not mafia ‘heavies’ armed with hammers to threaten and force your clients to pay up.
How much will an accountant charge to complete my year end return?
An accountant can help you complete your year end return, as well as any other booking services that you might need. They’ll be there to take away the stress and worry of having to complete this yourself, but better still, they’ll be able to ensure that any report is 100% accurate and on time.
But how much will this cost you?
In our guide to the average accountancy costs for limited company, we gave a rubbish answer that accountancy costs will depend. And that’s true. Generally speaking, the more you want your accountants to do, and the worst state your accounts are in, the more you’ll be paying for them.
If you do a lot of bookkeeping by yourself and manage a lot of your accounts with bookkeeping software, then your accountancy prices are going to be cheaper.
On average, you can get packages that start at around £80-100 a month for accountants. This would include basic services such as:
- Completing your company’s year end accounts;
- Processing payroll for you and any other staff members;
- Submitting quarterly VAT returns (if you are VAT registered);
- Managing any correspondence from Companies House;
- Accounts & corporation tax return;
- Advice on business structuring or company set up;
- Registering your business with HMRC;
- Access to apps that help with your accounts.
Considering that missing the deadline for your year end accounts can leave you with fines over £100 alone, we’d say that accountants are worth every single penny. That’s not even to mention how much time you’ll spend not having to manually do these returns yourself.
Can I submit abbreviated year end accounts?
Yes, you can submit abbreviated year end accounts to Companies house if your business fulfils any two of the following criteria:
- You have less than 50 employees;
- Your turnover is less than £10.2 million;
- You have less than £5.1 million on your balance sheets.
Abbreviated year end accounts are basically shorter accounting documentation that’s designed to give a summary of your accounts. For this, you just need to submit a balance sheet that’s signed by one name director.
However, bear in mind you still need to send your full year end accounts to HMRC. And no matter what, it’s always a good idea to keep a detailed record of your financial information on your files for future years.
For example, if you are ever investigated by HMCR, they will want access to your records from the past 4 years. If there’s evidence of intent to mislead or submit errors, the HMRC can go up to 6 years back. For serious fraud cases, up to 20 years of records can be investigated.
If you’re ever unsure, ask an accountant who will be able to provide the right documentation and information to the relevant party.
What happens if I miss the deadlines?
If you miss your deadline for your year end accounts, both the HMRC and Companies House can issue fines. The longer you leave it, the worse fines you’ll see.
|HMRC late filing penalties||Companies House late filing penalties|
|1 day||£100||Up to a month||£150|
|3 months||Another £100||1-3 months||£375|
|6 months||Estimated Corporation Tax bill amount and an additional penalty of 10% of the unpaid tax||3-6 months||£750|
|12 months||Additional 10% of any unpaid tax||Over 6 months||£1,500|
If that’s not rough enough:
- The £100 HMRC late penalties are increased to £500 each when your return is late three consecutive times.
- If you file late two years consecutively, Companies House penalties double.
If you never want to worry about missing a deadline, it’s always best to leave these matters to your accountant. They’ll be able to prepare and ensure that all your information is submitted on time and accurately, saving you a lot of time, stress and potential fines.
Not got an accountant for your business yet?
Take a look at our guide of 5 essential questions you need to ask your accountant to make sure that you find the right fit for your business.
Can software help me submit my year end accounts?
Accounting and bookkeeping software can be an incredible time-saving feature for businesses all year round, not just when it comes to your year end accounts. This software is a good place to store and calculate, all of your expenses, keep track of your financial records and provide a secure digital copy of your records.
No matter how experienced, or inexperienced you are with accounts, there are plenty of software options for you to choose from.
Find one that will be the right match for you by taking a look at our reviews of the best accounting software for UK businesses.
Your year end accounting checklist
To maker things simple, we’ve boiled down your year end accounting checklist into 3 easy steps:
- Get your financial statements;
- Collect due invoices;
- Sort your paperwork.
Or, if you decide to work with an accountant, this checklist becomes even simpler.
- Hand your records over to your accountant;
- Let accountant file accounts;
I know which one I’d prefer.