Businesses filing their financial statements late due to the impact of the pandemic face the prospect of being contacted by debt collection agencies before their penalty appeals have been concluded by Companies House, say leading tax and advisory firm Blick Rothenberg.
Marc Levy, a partner at the firm said: “Many small business owners and key members of their finance team have been suffering from long-term health issues or trapped overseas or due to the pandemic.
“As a result, many privately owned businesses missed the filing deadline for their financial statements, leading to penalties of between £150 and £7,500, which are doubled if the filings are late for two consecutive years in a row.”
He added: “it is possible to appeal the penalties in exceptional circumstances like the pandemic, but it is taking Companies House as long as six months to respond.”
Marc said: “Ultimately, it is for the Companies House Registrar to determine what constitutes an exceptional circumstance and whether or not each appeal is allowed. However, it appears that when responses are eventually received, appeals have been generically rejected without regard to the difficulties faced by the business. When this is challenged, it is passed to another department for further review adding to the prolonged delay and uncertainty.
“In the meantime, we are finding that some penalties have been passed on by Companies House to debt collectors before everything has been concluded. This is the last thing that such business owners need, when they are under financial strain, still waiting to hear the outcome from Companies House and just fighting to survive.”
Marc added: “Despite Companies House giving 3-month Covid filing-deadline extensions, this has often not been enough for businesses faced with unprecedented extenuating circumstances outside of their control. Whilst the 3-month extension is not unreasonable and has been very gratefully received, it is ironic that in some cases it is taking Companies House as long as double this time to address late-filing penalty appeals, which would ordinarily be concluded within 30 days.”