CIS Guide: Contractors & Subcontractors in the Construction Industry

Written by: Liez Comendador
Written by: Liez Comendador
Construction Industry Scheme

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The Pay As You Earn (PAYE) framework and Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) deal with taxes in a parallel manner. The taxes of employed individuals go through PAYE framework whilst the taxes of the independently employed, especially in the construction sector, go through the CIS. Both the contractors and subcontractors need to be aware of their accountabilities in the scheme.

In this article, several facets of CIS will be discussed ranging from determining one’s qualification for being excluded in the scheme to joining it; looking into the CIS requirements and carrying them out in their business. Moreover, the article will also talk about the exemptions available and everything else that the scheme encompasses.

What Is Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)?

The CIS gives tax rules to people in the construction trade. Committed to this arrangement, contractors deal with their workers’ compensation rates through the scheme’s policy.

The scheme sets the rate that contractors ought to deduct from their workers’ compensation either by month or quarter depending on what their contract stipulates.

For the subcontractors, the cash deducted from their pay goes to their income tax and National Insurance Contributions (NIC) as prepayment to the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC).

What Is Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)?

The Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) ordered the scheme in 1971 to reduce misrepresentation in the construction sector, particularly illicit avoiding of taxes and exploitation of work status, the two of which are related in a way that business entities announce their employees as independently employed to sidestep annual assessment and NIC liabilities. The CIS regulation has succeeded in forestalling these unlawful practices in the field.

Getting registered with the HMRC is non-negotiable for contractors. The CIS applies penalties to contractors that skip on handing over their CIS returns, which could possibly go up to £100 for every month.

Subcontractors aren’t compelled to join the scheme, however. But they may have to face an extra 10% deduction, totaling to 30%. Those who already joined in the scheme are deducted at a standard of 20% whilst 30% for those who haven’t.

How Does Construction Industry Scheme Operates?

The CIS ensures that contractors set aside the right amount from their workers’ payment according to their status if they’ve applied for CIS or not. Subcontractors have some control over how much their pay is deducted by applying for CIS to hinder the extra 10% obligation.

Prior to undertaking a project, contractors need to join CIS. Following that, they will need to confirm their workers’ status with the HMRC before they can deduct the rate as per CIS policy.

Consistently, the rate that contractors deduct from their workers’ pay should always be based on the CIS filings. The cash deducted is given to the HMRC as early payment for their workers’ income taxes and insurance.

Contractors pay their labourer’s income taxes and NIC in advance, according to CIS rules.”

When contractors incorrectly classify their workers’ status, they can get a penalty reaching up to £3000. They are always held accountable by the HMRC to accurately identify their labourers’ statuses. To do so, they should not base on their workers’ employment experience—whether they have had worked for themselves or not.

Considering the possible penalty, contractors have to be wary about identifying statuses by checking their workers’ contract stipulations or looking into the CIS guide. Given that the HMRC imposed the CIS policy to lessen fraud, contractors must reassess their workers’ status and other pertinent data to prevent any fines.

How Is Tax Paid Under the Construction Industry Scheme?

At the designated deadline of a fiscal month, contractors must submit their monthly CIS returns, which report the overall salary their subcontractors obtain and the percentage subtracted from their salaries.

Rendering returns promptly is equally important as completing them accurately. Contractors need to take heed of the cut-off date for rendering the returns, which is on the 19th of every month. Missing just one day is equivalent to handing them a month late, so nevertheless, they are penalized for up to £100.

How Is Tax Paid Under the Construction Industry Scheme?

The returns that contractors render is for the fiscal month that passed. For instance, if they are filing for June, they need to see to it they render the returns on or prior to July 19.

The HMRC offers two options for documenting the profits. Contractors can use either the HMRC CIS online help free of charge or the HMRC CIS online assistance. To avoid overwriting their returns, they shouldn’t be using both at the same time.

Subcontractors must submit returns too but yearly. They are held accountable for submitting a self-assessment tax return not later than the conclusion of the annual fiscal period.

For both contractors and labourers, there’s a way to free themselves from all these hassles. Notwithstanding their roles in CIS, they can always opt for tax professionals’ proficiency so they can direct more attention to matters regarding construction work instead of settling taxes. Our professionals can greatly lighten their commitments to the HMRC. We are just one call away to help.

Who Are Required to Register for CIS?

One benchmark for CIS is that all construction work delivered to private householders isn’t really considered in the CIS. But when it’s a transaction among organizations, where the contractor has to get a labour force to help them achieve the task, then registration is vital.

CIS encompasses a wide range of projects, including repairs, site preparation, installation of various systems, building or demolition of structures, and more. Contractors should not attempt to start these projects until they have registered.

Nonetheless, even if an individual or business entity is not directly working on a project, they may be subject to CIS in certain circumstances. One example is when the regular yearly budget they grant to the construction industry exceeds £1 million in a three-year timeline.

Subcontractors register voluntarily. However, in the United Kingdom, subcontractors want to be bound by the plan because of its benefits.

-Requirements for Contractors

The first step for contractors when notifying the HMRC of their new status is to go through authentication. To proceed with the application, they must meet the following requirements:
  • Name
  • Reference from a previous employer
  • Accounting office as a source
  • Taxpayer Reference also called UTR
  • Exact status identification of your labourers
Given the HMRC’s stringent opposition to any illegal tax techniques, being vigilant, particularly in terms of supplying exact statuses and other information, is essential. Incorrect details, deliberately or non-deliberately presented, are prone to penalties.

-Requirements for Subcontractors

Before providing labour, subcontractors are highly encouraged to join CIS. This means their assessments wouldn’t be handled through PAYE any longer but inside the CIS. The HMRC will request the following information so subcontractors must consider setting these up ahead of time:

  • First and Last Name
  • UTR
  • National Insurance number

What Are the Exceptions in Construction Industry Scheme?

Any business entity or person engaging in a project isn’t automatically categorized as contractors. This concerns private householders who obtain a workforce for a typical project.

Various construction needs of a normal household consist of the building, extensions, repairs, or decorations. For these projects within their premises, they will need to hire people, yet this doesn’t mean they are considered within the CIS.

Furthermore, companies that aren’t directly participating in the labour but allot not more than £1 million for it aren’t regarded within the CIS too.

What Are the Exceptions in Construction Industry Scheme?

Take a look at these kinds of construction activities considered in the bounds of CIS:

  • Carpet fitting
  • Transporting components
  • Surveying
  • Architecture
  • Scaffolding hire, excluding physical labour
  • Manufacturing components

Moreover, in the event that a project is sponsored by a charity, trust, school, or an authority figure of a local education institution, it’s automatically opted out of CIS.

A project with a budget not exceeding £1,000, supplies excluded, is qualified for CIS exemption. If a project fits in with this budget, contractors must inform the HMRC to confirm if they’re qualified for the exemption.

Contractors may want to get in touch with the CIS helpline, check their guide, or ask the tax professionals to examine if they’re qualified to be exempted from the scheme.

How to Register for the Construction Industry Scheme

Sorting out the registration seems hassling, but eventually, it’s a wise move to have embarked on anything the proper way to prevent possible repercussions from the HMRC. According to one’s status, here’s a guide through the registration method:

-Registering as Contractors

Prior to setting out on a project and dispensing pay to their labour force, contractors need to join the scheme ahead of time. Fourteen days is adequate to have everything prepared, CIS-wise. Be in the know that the HMRC prohibits contractors from enrolling in the CIS as soon as two months before the real beginning date of the project.

First, contractors can enroll as another business. If they got their manager PAYE beforehand, the strategy is smoothed out from that point. Basically, they present their PAYE and UTR numbers to the HMRC where their information is promptly updated.

Assuming they haven’t gotten their manager PAYE ahead of time, they will have to essentially mark the box that attests they’ll be appointing assignments to a labour force.

Straight on, they will be assigned their PAYE reference number, then continue toward requesting to change their status into a contractor.

When everything is settled, it’s time contractors dive more deeply into what it involves being bound under the liabilities of CIS.

-Registering as Subcontractors

Whenever subcontractors begin a task, they need to fix how they should operate first. They have two choices for a business structure: sole trader or organization. Most subcontractors begin as sole traders.

On the off chance that they have recently been legalized as a sole trader and have procured their Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number, they can apply for CIS utilizing one of the online services given by the HMRC.

But assuming they’re not a sole trader or haven’t got their UTR number yet, they basically register as another business, file for self-evaluation, and request that their status be changed to that of a subcontractor.

Subcontractors have two choices for accepting their compensation, either through the CIS policy or gross compensation. They can request to receive their compensation in gross assuming they’re giving services to a huge business. With CIS guidelines, essentially, their compensation will be deducted whilst with gross, they secure it in full.

Construction Industry Scheme Benefits

It’s the subcontractor’s discretion to be part of the CIS or not. In any case, in the event that they take on projects, they are urged to be subject to the scheme first for all its benefits.

Whenever they choose to acquire compensation grossly, they might obtain their full compensation yet have to deal with superfluous issues in the long run. In this arrangement, they are responsible for manually settling their income tax and NIC at the finish of the yearly tax period. Furthermore, dispensing their taxes in a year at one time can easily turn into a burden as well.

But with the CIS regulation in effect, contractors take complete charge of their workers’ income tax and NIC commitments, so subcontractors are relieved of the task of accomplishing them by themselves at the conclusion of the annual fiscal period. This also means they disseminate their taxes monthly rather than clearing them all at once.

Furthermore, registered subcontractors earn a steady income and reap the perks of NIC. It’s also very easy to raise complaints concerning their stipend, most especially if they aren’t promptly and accurately compensated.

Aside from that, registering increases the stipend that subcontractors obtain as they avoid the add-on 10% deduction ordinarily imposed to the labourers who are non-registered. Having your salary subtracted at 20% for being a CIS-registered subcontractor in lieu of 30% reflects a huge difference to their stipend.

How Can Tax Professionals Help?

Chances are, contractors can commit mistakes around CIS anytime, but with the HMRC, deliberate errors or not, fines are imposed nevertheless. A lot of contractors’ CIS liabilities await, including but not restricted to confirming their labourers’ statuses, computing the withheld amount, preparing monthly returns, etc.

How Can Tax Professionals Help?

The possibility of undertaking a potentially CIS-exempted project is something contractors shouldn’t miss out on. Tax professionals can help them better understand this and many aspects around CIS.

Subcontractors accomplish more when they work with tax specialists, particularly when it comes to overpaid taxes in the Construction Industry Scheme. After they have contributed more than they owe, it’s easier to claim their funds back with the help of professionals. Legend Financial’s tax professionals are well-versed in this area. Regardless of tax position in the scheme, we got everyone’s back.


Construction Industry Scheme (CIS). (n.d.). Retrieved from

What you must do as a Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) contractor. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Register as an employer. (n.d.). Retrieved from

What you must do as a Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) subcontractor. . (n.d.). Retrieved from

What is the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)? (n.d.). Retrieved from Low Incomes Tax Reform Group:

How do I register for CIS (the Construction Industry Scheme)? (2 February 2022). Retrieved from AMS:

Construction Industry Scheme: a guide for contractors and subcontractors (CIS 340). (n.d.). Retrieved from

How does the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) work? (n.d.). Retrieved from Tax Scouts:

Reviewed by:

Faizan Rashid
Faizan Rashid
Faizan is a well-qualified accountant with a firm belief in a team environment, working to deadlines, is usually absolute as tax return deadlines are non-negotiable. He is highly regarded and the most experienced professional of Legend Financial.

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