Contractors and CIS

The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) is a set of special rules for tax and National Insurance for those working in the construction industry. Businesses in the construction industry are known as 'contractors' and 'subcontractors' and should be aware of the tax implications of the scheme.

Under the scheme, contractors are required to deduct money from a subcontractor’s payments and pass it to HMRC. The deductions count as advance payments towards the subcontractor’s tax and National Insurance. Contractors are defined as those who pay subcontractors for construction work or who spent more than £3m on construction a year in the 12 months since they made their first payment. A contractor can be a sole trader, in a partnership or own a limited company.

New contractors must follow these rules:

  1. They must register for CIS before they take on their first subcontractor.
  2. They must check if they should employ the person instead of subcontracting the work. They may get a penalty if they should be an employee.
  3. Check with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) that their subcontractors are registered with CIS.
  4. When they pay subcontractors, they will usually need to make deductions from their payments and pay the money to HMRC. Deductions count as advance payments towards the subcontractor’s tax and National Insurance bill.
  5. They need to file monthly returns and keep full CIS records – they may get a penalty if they do not.
  6. They must let HMRC know about any changes to their business.
Source:HM Revenue & Customs | 24-02-2024

CIS contractors monthly tax chores

The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) is a set of special rules for tax and National Insurance for those working in the construction industry. Businesses in the construction industry are known as 'contractors' and 'subcontractors' and should be aware of the tax implications of the scheme.

Under the scheme, contractors are required to deduct money from a subcontractor’s payments and pass it to HMRC. The deductions count as advance payments towards the subcontractor’s tax and National Insurance.

Monthly returns must be submitted online. The monthly return relates to each tax month (i.e., running from the 6th of one month to the 5th of the next). The deadline for submission is 14 days after the end of the tax month. Even if no subcontractors have been paid during a month, contractors still have to make a nil return. All contractors are obliged to file monthly returns even if they are entitled to pay their PAYE quarterly. The returns can be filed using the HMRC CIS online service or approved commercial CIS software. There are penalties for late returns.

Contractors who have not paid subcontractors in a particular month are required to submit a 'CIS nil return' or notify HMRC that no return is due. If this is likely to be a longer term ‘nil return’, the contractor can contact HMRC to make an inactivity request stating they have temporarily stopped using subcontractors. This request lasts for 6 months. You must notify HMRC if you start using subcontractors again during this period. 

Contractors are defined as those who pay subcontractors for construction work or who spent more than £3m on construction during a year in the 12 months since they made their first payment.

Source:HM Revenue & Customs| 02-10-2023

The Construction Industry Scheme

Navigating the UK Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)

The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) is a set of tax and National Insurance rules specifically crafted for individuals and businesses operating in the UK construction industry. Whether you’re a ‘contractor’ or a ‘subcontractor’, understanding CIS can ensure you manage your tax obligations effectively.

What is the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)?

The CIS is a tax initiative by the UK government that mandates contractors to deduct a portion of payments made to subcontractors and transfer this amount directly to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). These deductions are essentially advance payments towards the subcontractor’s tax and National Insurance liabilities.

Who Does the Construction Industry Scheme Apply to?

The CIS applies to contractors who pay subcontractors for construction work or businesses that have spent more than £3 million on construction in the 12 months since their first payment. While subcontractors are not obligated to register for the CIS, they will see a 30% deduction from their payments if they remain unregistered. However, if a subcontractor registers under the CIS, this deduction is reduced to 20%. Alternatively, subcontractors can apply for gross payment status.

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What are the Reporting Obligations under C.I.S.?

Under the CIS, contractors are required to submit monthly returns online, which detail payments made to subcontractors for each tax month (from the 6th of one month to the 5th of the next). The deadline for submission is 14 days after the end of the tax month. If a contractor doesn’t make any payments to subcontractors in a particular month, they must submit a ‘CIS nil return’ or notify HMRC that no return is due.

Changes in VAT Rules under the c.i.s.

As of 1 March 2021, the VAT rules for building contractors and subcontractors have changed. For certain specified supplies, subcontractors no longer add VAT to their services for most building customers. Instead, contractors are required to pay the output VAT on behalf of their registered subcontractor suppliers – a mechanism known as the Domestic Reverse Charge. Contractors can then reclaim the output tax paid as input VAT, as per the standard rules.

Need Assistance from an Accountant?

Navigating the intricacies of the CIS can be daunting, but it’s an essential aspect of tax compliance for contractors and subcontractors in the UK construction industry. Partner with a trusted UK accounting firm to ensure you meet your CIS obligations, allowing you to focus on what you do best – building and creating.

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HMRC strike causes CIS delays

Some 400 HMRC helpline service advisers who are members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union have been on strike intermittingly since 10 May 2023. These strikes are by staff working in HMRC’s East Kilbride and Newcastle offices. The striking workers are with the department of Personal Taxation Operations on Employer Service.

The following are the strike dates that were announced:

  • 10-12 May
  • 15-19 May
  • 22-26 May
  • 29-31 May
  • 1 and 2 June

These dates exclude weekends and effectively mean that employer services are affected until 5 June 2023.

It has been widely acknowledged that these strikes are having a serious impact on HMRC’s helplines which were already struggling to cope with demand. 

Specifically, there have been many reports of long delays to those trying to contact the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) helpline. The CIS helpline is widely used to help those registering for the CIS and to resolve issues that arise with CIS deduction rates. This means that affected subcontractors may be paying more tax than necessary, with a long wait to recover the overpaid amounts.

The strikes are also having a significant impact on other helplines including the employer helpline, student loans unit, PAYE registrations, maternity, paternity and sick pay.

Source:Other| 31-05-2023

Monthly chores for CIS contractors

The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) is a set of special rules covering tax and national insurance for those working in the construction industry. Businesses in the construction industry are known as 'contractors' and 'subcontractors' and should be aware of the tax implications of the scheme.

Under the scheme, contractors are required to deduct money from payments to subcontractors and pass it to HMRC. The deductions count as advance payments towards the subcontractor’s tax and National Insurance.

Monthly returns must be submitted online. The monthly return relates to each tax month (i.e., running from the 6th of one month to the 5th of the next). The deadline for submission is 14 days after the end of the tax month. Even if no subcontractors have been paid during a month, contractors still have to make a nil return. All contractors are obliged to file monthly returns even if they are entitled to pay their PAYE quarterly. The returns can be filed  using the HMRC CIS online service or commercial CIS software. There are penalties for late returns.

Contractors who have not paid subcontractors in a particular month are required to submit a 'CIS nil return' or notify HMRC that no return is due. If this is likely to be a longer term ‘nil return’, then the contractor can contact HMRC to make an inactivity request stating they have temporarily stopped using subcontractors. This request lasts for 6 months. You must notify HMRC if you start using subcontractors again during this period. 

Contractors are defined as those who pay subcontractors for construction work or who spent more than £3m on construction a year in the 12 months since they made their first payment.

Source:HM Revenue & Customs| 08-05-2023