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Further information

Accounting reference dates

1. What is a financial year?

A financial year is usually a 12 month period for which you prepare accounts. Every LLP must prepare accounts that report on the performance and activities of the LLP during the financial year. This starts on the day after the previous financial year ended or, in the case of a new LLP, on the day of incorporation.

Financial years are determined by reference to an accounting reference period. The accounting reference period ends on the accounting reference date or a date up to seven days either side of it, if this is more convenient.

2. How is the accounting reference date determined?

For all new LLPs, the legislation sets the first accounting reference date as the first anniversary of the last day in the month in which the LLP was incorporated. The subsequent accounting reference dates will automatically be on the same date each year. For example, an LLP incorporated on 1 October 2009 will have its first accounting reference date as 31 October 2010 and 31 October for every year thereafter.

3. Can I change the accounting reference date?

Yes, you can change the current or the immediately previous accounting reference date by extending or shortening the period. To do this you must notify Companies House of a change of accounting reference date on LL AA01. You must submit an acceptable change of accounting reference date form before the filing deadline of the accounts for the period that you wish to change. In other words, if accounts for a particular accounting reference period become overdue, it is too late to change the accounting reference date.

LLPs normally have 9 months to submit their accounts to Companies House after the end of each accounting reference period. The period allowed for submitting an LLP's first accounts and for changing its accounting reference date is different and we explain this in Chapter 8.

4. Are there any restrictions on changing the accounting reference date?

You may change an accounting reference date by shortening an accounting reference period as often as you like and by as many months as you like.

However, there are restrictions on extending accounting reference periods:

you may not extend a period so that it lasts more than 18 months from the start date of the accounting period unless the LLP is in administration;
you may not extend more than once in 5 years unless:
the LLP is in administration; or
the Secretary of State has directed that this can happen; or
the LLP is aligning its accounting reference date with that of a subsidiary or parent undertaking under the law of the UK or another state in the European Economic Area (EEA).
For a list of countries within the European Economic Area please access this link.

5. Are there any extra restrictions when changing an LLP’s first accounting reference date?

No. The restrictions for changing any period are the same as those described in the previous question.

You should note that when you extend your first accounting period to the maximum 18 months, you must count the date of incorporation as the first day of the period. Many LLPs make the mistake of simply adding 6 months to the end of the period, which can in some cases extend the period beyond 18 months.