The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) was introduced some years ago by HMRC and revised in 2007.
Its purpose is to tackle the problems caused by a variable construction workforce — a mixture of main contractors, sub-contractors, businesses, partnerships, self-employed people and employees — who move from site to site and work on different projects. Its main aim, in short, is to ensure everybody pays their due taxes and NI.
CIS Worker Status
The scheme recognises three types of worker within the construction industry.
Firstly, there are direct employees who are on the payroll and are paid under PAYE rules, with tax and NI deducted from their wages. There are then two categories of sub-contract workers — those who can prove they are genuine sub-contractors are paid gross and handle their own tax affairs fully while others who don’t achieve CIS status with HMRC or aren’t registered have a flat rate deduction from all payments. They then complete their own tax returns and pay over any difference in tax and NI.
A sub-contactor who undertakes work for other businesses in the construction industry should register for the scheme. This applies, therefore, for a joiner who works for a main contractor but not to one who undertakes domestic work or carries out contracts for a shop owner. Note, however, that public bodies, local authorities and government departments that spend over £1 million a year on construction services are classed as contractors. Similarly, although an individual store won’t be classed as a contractor, a large store chain that spends the same amount of money in a year will be classed as such.
Making CIS Returns
Sub-contractors need to register with HMRC and prove their status, which will then determine how they can be paid. Contractors are obliged to check all sub-contractors’ statuses with HMRC before employing them and must then pay them accordingly. Each contractor then has to submit a monthly return by the 19th of each month that covers all payments and deductions for the previous month up to the fifth of that month. This return will list details of all sub-contractors paid and will be accompanied by a remittance of the amounts deducted.
Contractors need to be careful they submit returns on time, even those with no payment due. Late returns can result in penalties of £100 per month per return (more if the number of sub-contractors exceeds fifty) and so will soon mount up if a few are late.
Incorrect returns can result in a penalty of up to £3000 for each one, so they need to be checked thoroughly as well as being on time.