What period should the accounts cover?

Every company must prepare annual accounts that report on the performance and activities of the company during the year. The period reported on in the accounts is called the financial year. This starts on the day after the previous financial year ended or, in the case of a new company, on the day of incorporation. A more precise term for a financial year is an accounting reference period.

The accounting reference period ends on the accounting reference date (ARD) or a date up to seven days either side of the ARD, if this is more convenient.

An example of the accounting period for a new company-
The company is formed on 16 November 2012. The company accounts should cover the accounting period from 16 November 2012 to 30 November 2013, a period of just over 12 months. The following years accounts would cover 1 December 2013 to 30 November 2014, an exact 12 month period.

The accounting reference date can be changed once in a five year period. Many people move the accounting reference date in line with the corporate tax year which ends on 31 March. When changing your accounting reference date the accounting period cannot be shorter than 6 months or longer than 18 months.

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