What is the accounting reference date?

Companies are issued with an accounting reference date. This is the company’s financial year end date when the company will need to prepare its accounts to every year.

Limited companies have to file accounts every year. This applies to all companies including flat management companies and dormant companies. The date the accounts need to be ‘made up to’ each year is called the accounting reference date. This informs the company and anyone interested in the company’s activities when accounts are to be completed and when they are due to be filed.  When a company is first registered the accounting reference date is set at the time of incorporation. This is always the end of the month in which the company was formed.

For example.

A company is registered on 10 January 2014.

The accounting reference date is set at 31 January for every year thereafter

The first accounts will be prepared up to and including 31 January 2015

The accounts need to be filed by 10 October 2015.

Can I change my accounting date?

Companies can extend the accounting reference date once every 5 years. The most you can extend the date is by 6 months creating an 18 month accounting period. You can shorten the date as many times as you need to or is possible.

It is quite common for a company to move the accounting date. Many companies prefer to have the end of the financial year in March. This aligns the accounting period with the corporate tax year which ends 31 March every year. If the government adjust corporation tax or change something that will affect your accounts it may be simpler to file accounts covering one government financial period.

Companies that are part of an overseas group or a subsidiary of an international business may choose to align the accounting period with the group or parent company. This simplifies company accounting across different countries.

To change the accounting reference date you need to file form AA01. You can file a paper version or submit the electronic form online at Companies House.

If you are not sure if you should move your accounting reference date please speak to your accountant. Do not change the date without checking if this will benefit your company.

Please note Companies House processing times are an estimate only and not guaranteed.

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