Your accounting date is also known as the accounting reference date or year end date.
It is the date up to which your accounts are prepared and is generally the end of a calendar month.
For example 31 December or 31 March.
Depending on your business type the year end can be set by you or it could have been already set up.
The year end of the limited company will have been allocated on set up of the company by Companies House.
The year end will be the end of the month in which the company was set up. For example if the company was set up on 5 March 2013 then the year end will be 31 March and the first accounts will be prepared to 31 March 2014.
HMRC will not know this date as Companies House and HMRC do not work together!
So you also have to inform HMRC of the year end date. Shortly after the company is registered HMRC send a letter with details of how to register the company details online; this used to be done via a form called a CT41g.
The year end date can be changed but this has to be communicated to Companies House on a special form, an AA01, and also to HMRC.
You will find that it is likely that the company has a different year end to the tax year end which is 5 April. This is normal but it is worth remembering that there are deadlines for both the company year end and the tax year end.
Your accountant should advise on these.
As regards filing your accounts then the following are important:
- File the accounts at Companies House within 9 month from the end of the accounting reference period
- Corporation tax has to be paid with 9 months and one day from the end of the accounting reference period
- The corporation tax return has to be filed with 12 months from the end of the accounting reference period
A sole trader is a much simpler business structure although it does not have the same tax advantages for an owner managed business as a limited company.
You can select an accounting date and you will let HMRC know what this date is when you fill in your self assessment forms.
Often you will find that businesses select the 5 April as this is the end of the tax year.
If you do want to use a date other than 5 April then this is something you should discuss with an accountant as you could start to delve into an area called overlap relief! (Sorry for the bit of accounting talk there).