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The Construction Industry Scheme

The Construction Industry Scheme
Thursday, January 04, 2018

If you’re a contractor who hires subcontractors, you will need to register for the Construction Industry Scheme.


Designed to stop self-employed subcontractors from evading their tax liabilities, this scheme makes you responsible for ensuring everyone pays what they owe.


How does the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) work?


With the CIS, you can deduct income tax directly from subcontractor payments, which you then pass on to HMRC.


Coming from the subcontractor’s gross earnings, the deductions work as advance payments on their tax and National Insurance Contributions.


Do I have to register for the Construction Industry Scheme?


All contractors in the UK must register for the CIS.


Whether you’re a builder, property developer, or labour agency, if your main business is in construction and you pay subcontractors for work, you’re classed as a mainstream contractor by the scheme.


Even if your business isn’t necessarily in construction, you may still need to register.


Those who spend more than £1 million per year on average over any three-year period will be classed as “deemed” contractors, and will be required to register for CIS. This could be a housing association or an arm’s length management organisation (ALMO).


What is considered construction work under CIS rules?


You’ll need to register for CIS if you hire contractors for:


· Building work,

· Site preparations, such as laying foundations,

· Repair work, alterations or decorating,

· System installation, such as heating, lighting, power or ventilation,

· Demolition and dismantling, or

· Cleaning work when other construction work is completed.


Who is exempt from the Construction Industry Scheme?


This scheme is technically for contractors who hire subcontractors, so the subcontractors themselves do not need to register.


However, they can still choose to register in order to reduce their deductions to the lower rate of 20%.


The Construction Industry Scheme does not apply to contractors paid for by charities, trusts, or other governing bodies on the behalf of local education authorities.


You can also make a claim for exemption on the CIS helpline if the work is being carried out on the subcontractor’s own property, and the work is worth less than £1,000 without materials.


“Deemed” contractors paying for work on their own business property, i.e. property not intended for sale or rent, do not need to register for the scheme. If the work on another property is worth less than £1,000 excluding materials, you can also call the CIS helpline for an exemption.


What kinds of work are not covered by CIS?


The Construction Industry Scheme gives further exemptions to certain jobs, including:


· Carpet fitting,

· Delivery of materials,

· Architecture,

· Scaffolding hire (without labour), and

· Surveying.


Work carried out on construction sites that does not involve construction, for example onsite facilities or canteens, is also not covered by the CIS scheme.


How much will I need to pay?


This depends on each subcontractor you hire.


If they are registered for CIS themselves, you will deduct 20% from their gross pay to go to HMRC.


If the subcontractor is not registered, or has not given you their unique taxpayer reference (UTR), then you will deduct tax and NICs at a rate of 30%


Panthera tip: It is vital that you work out each subcontractor’s gross pay accurately to make sure the submission amounts are correct.


If you need any help finding the gross pay or calculating deductions for your subcontractors, speak to your Panthera accountant.


Where can I find my unique taxpayer reference (UTR)?


Your UTR number will be on your CIS card. It will consist of 10-digit number, with an additional 3 digits on your card / certificate number.


How do I register for CIS?


You can do this by registering as a new employer on the government website here. This can take anywhere up to two weeks to confirm, so make sure you register at least a fortnight before you need to hire any subcontractors.


You’ll be given the option of signing up either as a sole trader, limited company or as a partnership. Just ensure you use the same name and business address on your registration as you would use when paying subcontractors.


What if a subcontractor does not want deductions made in advance?


If one of your subcontractors does not want you to take tax or NIC deductions for them, they can apply for ‘gross payment status’ when they register for CIS.


Then, if they are accepted, you would simply continue to pay them normally without any deductions. At the end of the tax year, the subcontractor will pay all of their due tax and National Insurance themselves.


To qualify for gross payment status, the subcontractor will need to pass HMRC’s criteria. They will need to prove that they have a history of paying their tax and NICs on time and that they run their business through a bank account.


HMRC will also look at their turnover for the past year to ensure it is above their thresholds of:


· £30,000 p.a. for a sole trader

· £30,000 p.a. for each member in a partnership, or £100,000 for a whole partnership

· £30,000 p.a. for each director of a company, or £100,000 for the whole company


At the end of the year, they can simply declare your payments as income and file their self-assessments or Corporation Tax returns themselves.


What happens next?


Once you are registered, you will need to verify each of your subcontractors with HMRC and check if they are in the CIS scheme. You can do this online for free. All you need to do is input some basic information about your business, along with any information you may have from your subcontractors.


When it comes to paying your subcontractor, you’ll be responsible for deducting the relevant amount from their gross pay. Remember: the rate is 20% if they are CIS registered and 30% if they’re not.


HMRC will set up a payment scheme for you following your registration for you to pay the CIS deductions into. Then, all you need to do is file your CIS returns online by the 19th of every month.


If you need any support registering for CIS, or calculating subcontractor deductions, speak to the Panthera team today on 01235 768 561 or email

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