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Filing abbreviated accounts to Companies House

Are there any other alternatives to filing abbreviated accounts online?

I've had real problems using the PDF that Companies House have. Seem to get so far through it and then it crashes or it crashes each time I save it.

It's a pity you cannot simply send the PDF that you can create from VT.
Tiger Woods


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Co House and I Rev
You would have thought that having had the Revenue's (sorry HMRC's) FBI that Companies House could use a very similar scheme. As I understand it FBI is pure text.

So Cos House how about it - it would save you a packet and users less contributions to the swear box.

Am I just being hopeful?

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TrueData Filer banishes template torture!
I won't add to the various comments about the Companies House template - suffice to say that its weaknesses are the main reason we (as a small accountancy firm) developed TrueData Filer in the first place.

The package bypasses the template completely (unlike Philip Hodgson's thoughts on the matter and, apparently, the Iris planned solution). TDF is simply a database of companies with linked data for each year's abbreviated accounts. An integrated communications module fires the packaged data (converted to XBRL format) straight to Companies House and monitors acceptance/rejection responses. The import facility and the database store provide a high degree of pre-population thus dramatically speeding up the whole process. (David Griffiths' 2 item Balance Sheet (10++ minutes) can easily be filed in about a minute and a complex set of accounts with additional Accounting Policies/Notes in not much more).

The best way to learn about TrueData Filer is to check out the website at, then download an unrestricted trial and try it out without obligation for 20 days. By the way, you can use TrueData Filer to e-file your abbreviated accounts without the need for any other software package but if you use VT Final Accounts or plain Excel you can import the data very easily.

Similarly, trial balance data from the vast majority of accounting or accounts production packages (Iris, Sage, Compac, Digita etc) can be automatically placed in the TDF balance balance sheet.

Howard Myers
TrueData Filer

PS. In August and September over 3,000 sets of Abbreviated accounts were e-filed by TDF filers -no other commercially available package comes any where near this

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TrueData Filer website now up and running
I neglected to mention one thing in my earlier posting. The TrueData Filer website was unavailable for a couple of days for maintenance and version upgrades. It is now up and running. Apologies to those who tried to log on.


Howard Myers

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xbrl submissions to companies house

This URL lists the software packages with approval to file accounts directly. My favourite is clearly the one at the top of the list - but try them all.

XBRL is an XML based format and therefore similar to the format used for FBI and so essentially text based. ( The initial SA tax format was based on a proposed format by certain David Forbes !).

With our package and I am sure with the other approved ones too, you complete the accounts in the normal way, press a button and off they go. Companies house interaction is currently email based (moving to the government gateway in 12 months time), so transmission time is similar to that for a small email (our own abbreviated accounts were 13Kbytes (KB not MB - so small - similar in size to an SA return).

The biggy is not companies house interaction, but HMRC interaction. All CT600s must be sent electronically after April 2011 (i.e. for accounting periods starting Aug 2009). The accounts will no longer be acceptable as paper or pdf but will be in this same XBRL format.

Producing XBRL accounts (and CT comps for that matter) directly from prime data or just a TB, is surely they way to go !

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TrueData Filer
Having used Accounting Web for a number of years I have never heard of TrueData Filer.

Has anyone used this and if so what is it like?

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I've just used the system to file a set of last minute accounts, with 2 shares issued and £2 "cash in hand"

That's taken 7 seconds short of ten minutes, on a broadband connection and that doesn't include logging in to webfiling or to the company itself. I made one error, and avoided a couple of others from past experience. For example, the buttons to move from one page to another are not at the bottom of every page, so it's quite possible to overlook selecting the various statements on the balance sheet.

Three times the system went through pre-submission checks OK. Once I made a mistake with the authentication code - the other two failed because there were "errors" with the notes. So you go back to the notes, change nothing, and go through the process again. Eventually, fourth time lucky, it goes through.

There is no way that I would waste time with this rubbish unless it was a last minute rush to beat a deadline. And that's with about as simple a set of accounts as you can get. If you have creditors, the system tries to get more information than is required by the Acts. With a full set you can lose the will to live. 30p for a stamp is a much more attractive proposition

Of course, the time may come when it's compulsory to file online, to save Companies House actually doing any work other than sending out penalty notices. It's already far too much trouble for them to key in the data about shareholders on manual 363 returns.

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Already Told Them
Several of us brought this up with them at a presentation they did. They guy ignored us and went on to explain the benefits of on-line filing (to a room full of people who already used HMRC on-line filing because the benefits are obvious).

He explained how it is quicker to use their on-line system, as it contains validation checks. We pointed out that it is so bad, that the validation checks do not make it worth using.

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VT are listening...
We have been in close touch with Companies House on this one. What we would like to do is to have a button on the Companies House intelligent pdf form that imports data into their form. There is not that much data so it would not be too hard. It would be a bit like the way we export to tax packages in a generic format. Easy to use, easy to program and therefore hopefully bug and support free. Companies House have made positive noises about this but nothing has ever happened.

The official Companies House method is for accounts package vendors to encode the accounts in XBRL and then send the data by an email method to Companies House. For the later alone there is 42 page technical interface specification to master. Lots of work, lots of support and may be lots of bugs. As far as I am aware, few vendors have so far done this.

We direct our development resources based on what we hear from users, and completing VT Transaction+ (scheduled for June 2008) and templates for LLP accounts are higher up most peoples lists.

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Wouldn't it be great (VT if you're listening) to have another button on VT Accounts to create a PDF of the accounts and then be able to fire this across to the Companies House module?

Sounds too easy doesn't it?

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Software is the answer
I called Iris recently and understand that they are working on a link to fire the accounts information in to the Companies House module. I understand that delay is themn trying to ascertain exactly what Companies House want. Perhaps we should all be putting this on our "wish lists" for software providers as it would appear to be in the best interest of accountant, client and Companies House to have this solution.

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i think all providers are working to that end

the software is still quirky basically you need to keep saving to get rid of some of the error message aprticularly pre submission checks, it definitely needs tweaking.

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Just paper
I've had similar problems, though it's becoming a bit clearer now. I think the main problem I've had is not realising that the various sections have more than one page, so, for example, with the balance sheet it's necessary to scroll down.
The other problem I had was with the 'authorisation code' as I was trying to enter my agent authorisation code, when in fact it wants the particular company code.
Having said that it's far far more time consuming than popping a set of the accounts in the post, so I will only ever use it if the filing deadline is getting tight.

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It's seems OK to use after a while
when they first introduced this system (can't remember when exactly, but it must be over a year ago now), I was critical of it and complained that with their resources they could have introduced a faster and simpler system.
For example, the ability to type in the codes etc and then just simply uploading a pdf file of the abbreviated accounts.
However, they want you to input the figures into their system which is time consuming.
But having used the system on a fairly regular basis, you do get used to it, and it becomes faster and faster to file the accounts this way.

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On line filing of abbreviated accounts
Just to add my comments on filing abbreviated accounts on line I started to use the Companies House module and also gave up. I have just invested in True Data Filer and apart from some setting up problems it works like a dream. You can either enter data direct or import from VT (which I do). Best £50 I've spent this year.

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