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For a successful business, you need a viable business idea, the skills to make it work and the funding. Discover whether your idea has what it takes.

Forming your business correctly is essential to ensure you are protected and you comply with the rules. Learn how to set up your business.

It is likely you will need funding to start your business unless you have your own money. Discover some of the main sources of start up funding.

Businesses and individuals must account for and pay various taxes. Understand your tax obligations and how to file, account and pay any taxes you owe.

Businesses are required to comply with a wide range of business laws. We introduce the main rules and regulations you must comply with.

Learn why business planning is an essential exercise if your business is to start and grow successfully, attract funding or target new markets.

Marketing matters. It drives sales and helps promote your brand and products. Discover how to market your business and reach your target customers.

Some businesses need a high street location whilst others can be run from home. Understand the key factors from cost to location, size to security.

Your employees can your biggest asset. They can also be your biggest challenge. We explain how to recruitment and manage staff successfully.

It is likely your business could not function without some form of IT. Learn how to specify, buy, maintain and secure your business IT.

Few businesses manage the leap from start up to high-growth business. Learn what it takes to scale up and take your business to the next level.

Limited company filing responsibilities

NOTE: Due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, the government has made several announcements to ease the burden on businesses. Businesses impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak can apply to extend their company accounts filing deadline by three months.

Maybe you're considering setting up a limited company. Perhaps you've already done so, but now find you're being swamped by letters from HM Revenue & Customs and Companies House

Setting up a company is quick and easy, but it creates a range of administrative responsibilities. For example, as an accountant specialising in start-ups, I often hear from people who are late filing their accounts or annual return, but have no idea of the consequences.

This is only intended only as a basic introduction, but if you set up a limited company you will need to complete:

  • A Confirmation statement (previously known as the annual return)

This is a snapshot of information about your company (eg shareholders, directors, etc). This must be filed at Companies House together with a fee of £13 if filed electronically or £40 if on paper. The confirmation statement confirms that the information Companies House holds about your company is correct. It must be returned at least once a year along with a copy of your annual report and accounts.

  • Annual accounts

Although Companies House only requires an abbreviated set of accounts to be filed, which look easy to prepare, HMRC requires a full set of accounts, including a detailed profit and loss account and director's report.

Companies House and HMRC are very different government departments. They do not work together, so don't assume that just because you have filed information with one, the other will automatically get it.

  • CT 600 Corporation Tax return

Along with the full set of accounts, HMRC will require a CT 600 to be completed. This is not a straightforward form, so unless you have the necessary experience, it's best left to an accountant.

  • Annual self-assessment

Regardless of how much they earn, each company director may have to complete a self-assessment showing all of their income, not just that received from the company.

  • Annual employer returns

Any business that employs staff has a number of reporting requirements. Under PAYE Real Time Information (RTI), almost all employers are required to report their payroll information to HMRC online on or before each payday. Payroll information is reported to HMRC each time you submit your payroll information.

  • Quarterly VAT returns

Any business, not just companies, whose turnover exceeds the VAT threshold in the previous 12 months must register and account for VAT. The biggest mistake made here is assuming that the need to register relates to the accounting year, rather than the previous 12 months from the current date.

Registering for VAT means having to complete an online quarterly VAT return. This is due at the end of the month following the quarter-end date. So it is essential that accounts are kept up to date so that this can be completed on time.

Late filing of any of the above returns will result in a fine, penalties and interest payments. In the case of your accounts, both Companies House and HMRC can fine you. Fines start at £100, while punishment for significantly late filing of documents includes criminal conviction.

It doesn't end there, of course. Even when you've stopped trading, you must file dormant accounts each year. And if you decide to close the company down, there is an even more long-winded process to follow.

Administrating a company for tax can cost you a significant amount of time and money to meet the plethora of filing responsibilities. This cost is tax allowable, of course, except for fines. And in many cases there are tax advantages to operating as a limited company. However, just make sure you know what you are getting into before you start, that way there won't be any great surprises later on.

Written by Elaine Clark of Cheap Accounting.

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