With the pressure of running a business, it is easy to overlook deadlines. As previously mentioned in these pages, the penalties from missing the tax return deadline can be high. If you run your business through a limited company, then it isn’t just HMRC you have to worry about. Companies House are also able to levy penalties for failure to file accounts in time, with the deadline normally being 9 months after the company year end.

If you have left it too late, then you might try to avoid penalties by coming up with a reasonable excuse. Unfortunately, as shown by a recent list issued by Companies House, some people have the strangest ideas of what sounds “reasonable”. Excuses received included:

“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 Valentine’s Day”
“my company was more successful than I thought it would be, so I was too busy to file”

Unsurprisingly, none of these appeals succeeded, and all the companies involved received penalties. Late filing penalties are dependent on the status of the company,  how late the accounts were filed and whether they were late in the previous year.

Whilst these excuses were ignored, Companies House do accept that there will sometimes be a valid reason for late filing. In exceptional circumstances they will extend the deadline accordingly. However, you need to contact Companies House before you reach the original deadline. They can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] or by telephone on 0303 1234 500. The hours for their call centre are 8.30am to 6.00pm, Monday to Friday.


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