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What Is The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)?

What Is The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)? 5.00/5 (100.00%) 1 vote
Sunday 15th December 2019 No Comments »
What Is The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS)?

How CIS works

The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) is administered by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). It regulates payments from contractors to subcontractors in the building industry.

All building contractors and subcontractors should register with the scheme.

Who is a CIS contractor?

Anyone who uses subcontractors for construction work needs to register as a CIS contractor with HMRC.

Who is a CIS subcontractor?

If you’re self-employed and agree to do construction work for a contractor, you’re a CIS subcontractor. You should register with CIS. Subcontractors can also be companies. If you’re a contractor and subcontractor, you must register as both.

Other people and organisations covered by CIS

Apart from builders, CIS can also apply to:

  • Labour agencies and staff bureaux
  • Gangmasters (or gang leaders)
  • Property developers

Even if your organisation doesn’t do building work, you still have to register if you spend more than an average of £1 million a year on construction over a 3-year period.

Organisations where this could apply include:

  • Housing associations or ‘arm’s length’ management organisations (ALMOs)
  • Local authorities
  • Government departments
  • Other public bodies

There’s more information on who CIS applies to in the CIS guide for contractors and subcontractors.

Work covered by CIS

As a general rule, the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) includes almost any work that is done:

  • To a permanent building
  • To a temporary structure (eg scaffolding)
  • In civil engineering (eg bridges)

Some of the types of work covered by the scheme include jobs like:

  • Site preparation
  • General construction – bricklaying, roofing, plastering and so on
  • Alterations and extensions
  • Repairs and refurbishment
  • Decorating
  • Dismantling work
  • Demolition

There’s a full list of types of construction work included and excluded from CIS in the CIS guide for contractors and subcontractors.

When CIS doesn’t apply

Some types of work aren’t covered by the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS). If you’re only doing this type of work, you don’t need to register.

For example, work done by businesses like architects and surveyors isn’t covered. Manufacturing things off site (eg windows, blinds and shutters) also isn’t covered.

If you do any work that’s covered by CIS you must register even if not all your work is covered.

There’s a full list of types of construction work included and excluded from CIS in the CIS guide for contractors and subcontractors.

If you’re a contractor, CIS rules also don’t apply when:

  • You’re paying for construction work on property for your own business use (this only applies to contractors who spend more than £1 million a year on average)
  • You’re paying for a construction contract worth less than £1,000 (excluding materials) – you need to get authorisation from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to exempt it
  • The work is being paid for by a governing body or head teacher of a maintained school on behalf of the local education authority
  • The work is being paid for by a charity or trust

You can only get permission to exempt payments less than £1,000 if you’re a contractor spending more than £1 million a year on average. To get permission, call the CIS helpline:

CIS helpline
0845 366 7899
8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday
8am to 4pm, Saturday

There are no exemptions for subcontractors, and private householders are never treated as CIS contractors – regardless of how much they spend.

If your business is based outside the UK

The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) covers almost all types of construction work done in the UK. It doesn’t matter if your business is based in the UK or not.

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) classes you a ‘non-resident business’ if you’re based outside the UK. No matter where you’re based, CIS still applies if you’re:

  • A contractor who pays subcontractors for construction work they do in the UK
  • A subcontractor who gets paid by contractors for doing construction work in the UK

This means that if you’re a non-resident business you have to follow the same CIS rules as UK-based contractors and subcontractors.

It doesn’t matter where payment is made – it’s just down to the work you’re doing and whether it’s covered by CIS.

There’s a full list of types of construction work included and excluded from CIS in the CIS guide for contractors and subcontractors.

How to register

You must register before any work starts. Register by contacting the HMRC Charity, Assets and Residence (CAR) – CIS team.

Telephone: 0151 472 6273
If calling from outside UK: + 44 151 472 6273

Or you can write to:

Personal Tax International
St Johns House
Merton Road
Liverpool L75 1BB

Double taxation agreements and claiming back tax

This is when income gets taxed in 2 countries – the one where your business is resident and the one where you earn the income. It’s an agreement between 2 countries to reduce the amount of tax that’s actually paid.

The aim is to make sure you only pay the same, or close to the same, amount of tax as you would have paid if you’d earned the income at home.

If you’re a non-resident subcontractor and your country has a double taxation agreement with the UK, you might be able to claim back some of the CIS deductions that contractors have made from your payments.

If there’s no double taxation agreement you won’t be exempt from UK tax, but CIS deductions contractors make from your payments count towards your tax bill.

This means HMRC will reduce your tax bill for the year by the amount that’s already been paid in deductions.

There’s more information on double taxation agreements and claiming back tax on the HMRC website.

At Bizorb we aim to provide the most accurate and up to date information to you. This article contains public sector information licensed under the Open Government Licence v1.0. If you spot any errors in this article please let us know.

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