Businesses urged to file annual accounts early and “go paperless” to avoid Covid-19 disruption

Companies House has urged businesses to file their annual accounts earlier than usual to avoid “last minute” disruption caused by the coronavirus.

In a new notice, the official register of companies said businesses should also consider “going paperless” after research revealed that eight per cent of company accounts filed on paper are rejected each year compared to just one per cent of accounts filed electronically.

According to the regulator, coronavirus disruption “continues to affect people’s lives, businesses and the economy”, but could also impact the speed it takes to file annual statutory accounts.

It warned that company accounts could be rejected ahead of the 31 December 2020 paper deadline, leaving directors little time to correct mistakes and resubmit on time – occurring an automatic late filing penalty.

And with coronavirus disruption likely, Companies House warns that the processing of accounts filed on paper for the 2019/20 financial year could take “significantly longer”.

To avoid unnecessary disruption, Companies House has urged businesses to go “paperless”. While online filings can take as little as 15 minutes to complete, accounts filed on paper take longer to process and are “six times more likely” to be rejected for mistakes than accounts submitted electronically.

Commenting on the notice, Companies House Chief Executive Louise Smyth says: “By asking companies to submit their accounts early and preferably online, we are trying to ensure that they experience peace of mind during the busy end of year filing period.

“In common with so many organisations in these unprecedented times, we currently have a reduced number of people in our offices due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis and the government guidance and restrictions surrounding the pandemic.

“As a consequence of that, it’s going to take longer than it normally would to process accounts that are filed on paper, which need to be manually checked.”

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