What is the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)?
The CIS is a set of special rules for tax and National Insurance (NI) for those working in the construction industry. Businesses in the construction industry are known as ‘contractors’ and ‘subcontractors’.
The scheme applies mainly to contractors and sub-contractors involved in construction however, certain businesses that are not in the business of construction but have a significant amount of annual spend may also count as contractors.
Who does CIS apply to?
Types of work and business structures covered by CIS
The CIS can apply to all types of businesses that work in the construction industry in the UK.
As well as traditional construction businesses like builders, the scheme can also apply to businesses like:
Definition of construction work
CIS covers construction operations carried out in the UK. The rules of the scheme define the types of work that are classed construction operations. But as a rule, the scheme includes almost any work that's done to a:
Some examples of the types of construction work that are covered by the scheme include jobs like:
The scheme defines 'construction' as a term with a broad meaning that includes:
HMRC for example define assembling prefabricated units and site facilities off-site as construction work.
Who is a contractor?
A contractor is a business, or other concern, that pays subcontractors for construction work including:
Deemed contractors are those concerns that carry out construction work on their own premises or investment properties and whose average annual expenditure in the period of 3 years, ending with their last accounting period, exceeds £1 million.
Ordinary householders having work done on their own properties or building a new house are not considered contractors
Who is a subcontractor?
A subcontractor is a business that carries out construction work for a contractor. It can include an agency if a worker carries out construction operations under the terms of the contract they have with the agency. This is not the case if the agency merely introduces the worker to the contractor.
Subcontractors also need to register with HMRC and should keep HMRC informed of any changes in their business (including changes to the structure, address, business name, partners etc).
Contractors have to make a monthly return to HMRC:
Online filing of monthly returns is compulsory. 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 even if they are entitled to pay their PAYE quarterly.
The penalties for late submission of CIS contractor monthly returns are as follows:
Initial failure to meet due date
Return still outstanding two months after due date
Return still outstanding six months after due date
Return still outstanding twelve months after due date
VAT reverse charge
Since 1 March 2021, a VAT reverse charge on certain building and construction services applies. The new reverse charge is most relevant to sub-contractors and contractors carrying out supplies reported through the Construction Industry Scheme. The rules were originally meant to come into effect from 1 October 2019 but were delayed to allow the industry more time to prepare for the change.