Balance sheets

Business accounting periods


A balance sheet normally reflects a company's position on its accounting reference date (ARD), which is the last day of its accounting reference period. The accounting reference period, also known as the financial year, is usually 12 months. However, it can be longer or shorter in the first year of trading, or if the ARD is subsequently changed for some reason.

Companies House automatically sets the first ARD. The end of the first financial year is the first anniversary of the last day of the month in which the company was formed. If you decide to change this, you will need to notify Companies House.

You should also notify HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) if you change your ARD. Self-employed people and partnerships can choose their first accounting period. Subsequent accounts are usually prepared a year after the first balance sheet date.

For further information on filing deadlines, see  balance sheet reporting - who, when and where? and Companies House annual returns and accounts.

Internal accounts

Your business may decide to draw up accounts to help you monitor business performance as frequently as monthly. In this case the figures - often known as management accounts - are for internal use only. You do not need to file them with Companies House or HMRC.

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