The new year opened with the announcement of a combined filing service for annual accounts – the long awaited “single filing point” that inspired Lord Carter five years ago.
Announced in a statement on 6 January, the company accounts joint filing service is intended to give small companies with relatively straightforward financial affairs a “one stop” online facility to submit their company accounts online to both authorities.
The template in HMRC's Corporation Tax online filing software will accept data for both tax and statutory accounts purposes for periods starting on or after 6 April 2008, and forward the information on to Companies House. An abbreviated accounts option is available for users who are entitled to do so.
Due to the departments’ administrative quirks, the mechanism is not quite the seamless environment originally envisaged. For example, where HMRC will demand accounts and tax computations in iXBRL format for years ending after 31 March 2010 from April, the Companies House efiling regime remains voluntary.
HMRC also wants to see the statutory accounts required by company law as part of a company’s tax return rather than the abbreviated version smaller companies are allowed to file at Companies House. And while you may use HMRC’s online tool to complete a joint submission, the deadlines for CT600s and statutory accounts do not always coincide, so the likelihood is that many companies will continue to file at separate times.
“I don’t see that it will make a massive difference,” commented David Forbes of Forbes Computer, the first company to file iXBRL-formatted accounts at Companies House. “If you are using third party software to file, you will already get these benefits. One button will send an iXBRL accounts file to Companies House and another will send your CT600 pack to HMRC.”
Anyone wanting to use the joint filing service will have to register with HMRC Online Services and enroll for Corporation Tax Online. You then use HMRC's Corporation Tax online filing software to submit your accounts to both organisations using a template and third party software can also take advantage of the gateway. For more information, visit the joint filing information page.