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Limited company directors: What you need to file with HMRC & Companies House

As a limited company you are required to file various forms and returns to both Companies House and HMRC. Knowing what to file and when can get a bit confusing.

Choosing to run your business as a limited company gives you many benefits. It’s the most efficient way to run a business in terms of taxes, and limited liability means that your home and personal possessions won’t be on the line should business take a turn for the worse. The downside is that it’s a greater administrative responsibility than operating as a sole trader. You can see the main differences between a sole trader and limited company here.

There are various forms and returns to take care of, which must be sent to both HMRC and Companies House. This is because, as a limited company director, you have a duty to keep both institutions informed of the state of your business.

Here’s a timeline based on forming a company on the 1 January 2015 that will give you an idea of what you need to file and when.

How are these dates set?

Filing dates may differ depending on the day your company was first set up. This timeline is accurate for a company that was formed on 1 January 2015.

Both Companies House and HMRC set the due dates for filing in different ways.

Companies House gives your company an ‘Accounting Reference Date’, an estimated year end date, which is usually the anniversary of the last day of the month in which your company is incorporated. This means that the first set of Company Accounts you submit will often be longer than a 12 month duration. For example, if your company formed on the 7th July 2013 your Accounting Reference Date would usually be 31st July 2014.

For your Company Tax Return and Corporation Tax you are given an ‘Accounting Period’ by HMRC which begins when you start business activities and usually ends on your Accounting Reference Date.

What you have to file

Self Assessment

The director of a limited company is legally required to carry out a Self Assessment of their personal finances once a year.

The return is due by 31st January each year. However, you can usually file as soon as you have your p60 from the previous tax year, and we suggest you get it down sooner rather than later, as HMRC become virtually unreachable closer to the submission date.

If you’re a client, we can file your return for you for a small one-off fee.


The P60 is a summary of what salary you’ve paid yourself through your limited company, and the tax that’s been deducted from it in the previous tax year. It is important you keep your P60 for your records as you may need it for:

  • Completing a Self Assessment

  • Reclaiming overpaid Income Tax or National Insurance

  • Tax credits applications

  • Loan or mortgage applications


A P11D is a form required by HMRC that details any benefits and expenses that have been claimed during the past tax year (6th April – 5th April). See our benefits in kind guide for more info.

Details are required for:

  • All directors and employees of the company who earn over £8,500 per year

  • Any director own owns more than 5% of shares in the company

Even if your company only has one director (i.e. you) you still have to file a P11D.

Annual return

Not be confused with your annual accounts, the annual return is in fact a completely separate filing requirement. Whereas your annual accounts contain mainly financial information, your annual return is more like a snapshot of your company at a particular moment in time, containing more general company information.

Click here for a detailed look at everything your need to know about annual returns.

Abbreviated accounts

Details about your company finances which must be made public in accordance with the Companies Act 2006. You must file a set of abbreviated accounts to Companies House every year, including information on cash held in the company, assets, debtors and creditors.

Your first set of abbreviated accounts are due nine months after your first company year end.


This is a return filed to HMRC once a year containing details of your company’s income minus any tax allowances and expenses. The remaining figure – your profits – will then be used to calculate how much Corporation Tax your company owes.

Your first Corporation Tax return is due 12 months after your first year end.

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