In recognition of the difficulties facing businesses at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Companies House announced in March 2020 that companies would be able to apply for a three-month extension period to file their accounts. Automatic extensions were then introduced in June 2020 to help relieve the burden on businesses, covering companies with filing deadlines falling from 27th June to 5th April 2021.
These measures have now been scaled back and Companies House have announced that automatic extensions will no longer be granted. It is important that companies are aware and ensure that their accounts are filed promptly before the deadlines set.
What If a Company Needs More Time?
Nevertheless, if a company needs more time to file its accounts, then an application can be made for an extension on the official Government website. However, newly issued guidance from Companies House makes clear that extensions will only be granted in limited circumstances and states that:
- only eligible companies who are able to cite issues around COVID-19 will be granted an extension;
- companies that have already had their accounts deadline extended may not be eligible for an extension, as the law only allows a maximum filing period of 12 months; and
- companies must apply for an extension before the filing deadline.
Companies House will review each application and communicate its decision on whether to grant the extension request – the guidance explains that it is currently taking longer than usual to process applications, so it is advisable for any company seeking an extension to apply as soon as possible.
What about Companies That Are Not Eligible?
Companies that are not eligible for – or refused – an extension must file their accounts on time, otherwise an automatic late filing penalty will be applied.
In addition to the announcement regarding accounts, Companies House has reminded users that there will be no further automatic extensions for filing confirmation statements. Deadlines will revert to normal for any other time-limited filings from 5th April 2021 and after this date.