Goats ate my accounts?

Goats ate my accounts? Share

Goats ate my accounts?

We’re sharing a little bit of joy this week, as the weather begins to turn colder, with some of the more interesting excuses given by companies who failed to meet their accounts filing deadline. It may come as no surprise that none of the purported reasons listed below worked, so take note – Companies House doesn’t respond well to humour – but we’re sure they giggled as much as we did at some of these…

Excuses, excuses, excuses

Even if “I found my wife in the bath with my accountant”, is true, unfortunately, it isn’t deemed as an acceptable reason for late filing. Nor is “goats ate my accounts”, “pirates stole my accounts” or indeed, “a volcano erupted and prevented me from filing”.

These are just some of the more amusing reasons businesses have given for late filing in the past year, and have been selected in Companies House’s 2018 list of top outrageous excuses.

Other noteworthy entries include: “slugs ate my accounts”; “it was Valentine’s Day”; “my company was more successful than I thought that it would be, so I was too busy to file”; and “we delivered the accounts to the betting office next door to Companies House”.

Fine, not so fine…

In response to releasing this list, Nick Parker, senior enforcement manager at Companies House, says there is very little excuse for failing to file on time, and penalties for late filing are increasing.

“Companies and directors must be aware of their responsibility to file accounts with Companies House,” he stresses. “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.”

Recent Companies House statistics show that the number of penalties handed out for late filing has gone up by nearly 25% since 2014, from 161,902 then to 201,634 in 2017/18. Over the four years, the cost to business has increased from £76m to more than £85m.

The ripple effect

While some of this rise in numbers can be put down to the recent boom in start-ups, it’s also becoming apparent that Companies House is stepping up its enforcement activity.

This could spell trouble for businesses that do not have their house in order, particularly for SMEs, where directors are often having to juggle business growth and back-office administration. So having a savvy accountant in place could make a big impact.

The rules relating to filing are strict, and missed deadlines lead to late filing penalties being imposed. These 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. Missed deadlines for two consecutive years can mean double the cost.

Meanwhile, individual 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 a further charge of £500 a day for additional compliance delays.

Saving time

Our students are very aware that electronic filing is the fastest way, and fast becoming the new norm. And even businesses who want to go it alone without a professional accountant should be able to manage the Companies House WebFiling service, which contains in-built checks to ensure that all the relevant information is provided before a customer can submit.

So there’s really no need for tales of goats, slugs, pirates or volcanoes!

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