Accounts and tax returns for private limited companies

Last updated: 7 March 2017

Penalties for late filing

You'll have to pay penalties if you don't file your accounts with Companies House or tax return with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) by the deadline.

Late accounts for Companies House

Your company will have to pay a penalty charge if you file your accounts after the due date. The penalty is doubled if your accounts are late 2 years in a row.

You can be fined up to £5,000 and your company struck off the register if you don't send Companies House your accounts or annual return.
Time after the deadline Penalty (for private limited companies)
Up to 1 month £150
1 to 3 months £375
3 to 6 months £750
More than 6 months £1,500
Penalties for public limited companies are different.

Appeal against a late filing penalty

If you want to appeal a penalty you must give a reason why you couldn't file your accounts on time.

You must prove the circumstances were both out of your control and made it impossible for you to meet the deadline, eg a fire destroyed your records a few days before your accounts were due.

You can't appeal by claiming:

  • your company is dormant
  • you can't afford to pay
  • it was your accountant's (or anybody else's) fault
  • you didn't know when or how to file your accounts
  • your accounts were delayed or lost in the post
  • the directors live or were travelling overseas

You can send a letter to the address on the front page of the penalty invoice, or send an email including the penalty reference.

Companies House

You'll get a response within 10 working days and the penalty will not be collected while your appeal is being considered.

If your appeal is rejected you can write to the Senior Casework Unit (SCU) in the Late Filing Penalties Department at the Companies House office:

Companies House
4th Floor
Edinburgh Quay 2
139 Fountainbridge

If the SCU rejects your appeal, you can write to the Independent Adjudicators and ask them to review your case.

Find out more about late penalty appeals in different situations.

Late Company Tax Return to HMRC

Time after the deadline Penalty
1 day late £100
3 months late Another £100
6 months late HMRC will estimate your company's tax bill and add a penalty of 10% the unpaid tax
12 months late Another 10% of any unpaid tax

If your returns are late 3 times in a row, the £100 penalties are increased to £500 each.

If your return's more than 6 months late

If your Company Tax Return is 6 months late, HMRC will write telling you how much Corporation Tax they think you must pay. This is called a 'tax determination'. You can't appeal against it.

You must pay the Corporation Tax due and send your Company Tax Return. HMRC will recalculate the interest and penalties you need to pay.


You can appeal to HMRC against a late filing penalty if you have a 'reasonable excuse'.

If you have a reasonable excuse, you can appeal against a penalty by writing to your company's Corporation Tax office.

Check recent tax forms or letters from HMRC for your Corporation Tax office address or call the helpline.

Accounts and tax returns for private limited companies
Penalties for late filing