CIS tax refunds

Construction and other site workers like joiners, builders, plumbers, or groundworkers using the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) can claim subcontractor tax refunds for travel expenses to temporary sites.  The average annual rebate for CIS workers is £2,000.  RIFT will show you how to claim CIS tax back and take care of everything for you.  If you need to file a CIS tax return, we'll take care of that too.  

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Why use RIFT Refunds

You will benefit from

RIFT guarantee

If HMRC wants your refund back, we cover it.

No hidden costs

It costs nothing to find out if you have a claim.

Outstanding service

Rated by Institute of Customer Service.

All aftercare included

Free tax advice throughout the year.

CIS Tax Rebates

Information you need for a CIS tax refund

 We need the following basic information to look at processing your CIS tax rebate:

  • A list of the sites you've worked on - along with the dates you were there. This can cover the last 4 years, and the more information you have, the better. Don't worry too much if you can't remember every detail - many of our clients work on the same sites, so we may have the information to hand.
  • CIS statements - these are basically the monthly statements you get from your contractors to show what you've earned and the tax that's been taken out. They're also called wage slips or vouchers.
  • Other supporting documents - If you can, providing a copy of your photo ID (driving licence or passport), proof of address (e.g. gas bill), MOT certificates and receipts for expenses will help maximise your CIS tax refund claim.

You will also be required to set up a Personal Tax Account.  It's free and lets you keep tabs on all your tax details.  That includes all information from employers, banks and building societies and other government departments all in one place. 

You can find more information about what you need here, or give RIFT a shout and we can talk you through it. 

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CIS Tax Rebates

What can I claim for as part of my CIS tax rebate?

It's possible to claim a CIS tax rebate on a range of job related expenses including:

  • Travel
  • Meals
  • Lodging
  • Parking
  • Tolls
  • Tools
  • Protective clothing
  • Public liability insurance
  • Phone bills
  • Postage
  • Stationery

We'll assess all of your expenses and include them only if you qualify for a CIS refund. That way you'll never have HMRC knocking on your door asking for their money back. If you're a RIFT customer, you'll be covered by our RIFT guarantee as well, so you've got even more peace of mind.

Sadly there are a number of unscrupulous tax refund advisers taking advantage of CIS workers at the moment.  Read our blog on how to spot a CIS Refund Scam and keep yourself, and your money, safe.

If you want to see how much you could be due back from HMRC use our online tax refund calculator. It takes less than a minute to complete and gives you an instant estimate.  Alternatively, answering 4 simple questions will put you well on your way to making your RIFT construction claim.

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UTR Number

What's a UTR number?

A Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) number is a 10 digit code that's unique to either you or your company. It's something HMRC uses to identify you.

If you work in trades and need a UTR number we can help. We can also help if you've lost your UTR number. Click the button below to find out more.

UTR Number help

Specialist Team

CIS tax return and tax refund team

Our Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) experts can do everything an accountant does. In addition, their specialised knowledge means they can also maximise your CIS refund. They'll make sure you never miss a deadline or any tax reliefs you've earned. They'll even file your Self Assessment CIS tax returns as part of the service. If you're new to CIS or switching over from PAYE work, they'll help you get set up. That includes handling any outstanding issues you've got with HMRC. With in-depth understanding of the industry and the law, they'll handle all your CIS tax return paperwork and calls to HMRC.

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Specialist Team

Meet our Construction Reps

Our Reps cover over 3,000 miles a month travelling all over England, Scotland and Wales to help construction workers like you claim tax back. They can meet you whenever and wherever suits - at home, at work or even in the pub!


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CIS Tax Refunds

Construction CIS tax refunds done right

We've helped over 33,000 construction and site workers take back overpaid tax from the taxman and our average 4 year refund is £2,500. We've been in the business since 1999 and pride ourselves on being the UK's leading experts in tax refunds. 100% of our construction CIS customers say they would definitely recommend us to their friends and family, so rest assured you're in safe hands with RIFT.

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How long does a refund take?

How long does a CIS tax refund take?

As with any other kind of tax rebate, CIS refund claims take about 8-10 weeks for HMRC to process, on average. RIFT has its own specialist CIS team, working hard to maximise your refund and get it to you fast.

Your CIS refund includes your self assessment CIS tax return and all paperwork and aftercare throughout the year, all for one price. That means you get your money as fast as possible. Meanwhile, we're here for anything you need with no extra charges for our time, help or advice.

Once we've submitted your CIS tax return and claim, of course, it's all in the hands of the taxman.The wheels at HMRC can turn slowly sometimes, but there are a few things you can do to keep them moving:

  • Get your 64-8 form signed and sent in as soon as possible. We can't move ahead with your claim unless your paperwork's in order.
  • Check out our calendar of key days to make sure you aren't caught in one of HMRC's busiest periods.
  • Use our documents checklist to make sure we've got all the information we need to process your claim. The more information you can give us, the smoother and faster your refund claim will go.

RIFT has seven teams working to make sure there's no hold-up at HMRC. From tax advisors and claim preparation experts to submissions and aftercare specialists, we handle everything. There's no worry about mistakes creeping into your claim and no sitting in phone queues waiting to talk to HMRC. We'll even chase up old employers if they're dragging their feet in sending the information we need. RIFT takes care of you all year round, offering advice, solving problems and answering questions. And, as always, everything's covered by our RIFT Guarantee. As long as you've given us the right information, your refund is protected.

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CIS Tax Refunds

Do most CIS workers get the right amount of tax back?

Many construction workers file their own CIS tax returns. There’s nothing at all wrong with this, if you know your way around the rules. However, it's easy to miss out on CIS claims or make costly mistakes so it's important you have all the information you need for a CIS tax refund. Answering our 4 easy questions is all it takes to get started.

Specialist CIS tax rebate services exist to help people in the construction industry who work as sub-contractors to claim back overpaid tax. If you're a sub-contractor on a site being run by someone else, then your employer will be deducting tax directly from your pay before you get it. This almost always means you're losing 20% of it.

Because of this, at the end of the working year when you file your self assessment tax return, you've probably been overcharged. Basically, the tax taken from your wages during the year is probably higher than the amount you actually owe.

It takes a lot of specialist accounting knowledge to claim tax back for everything you are owed by the taxman. Every year, far too many people are still shelling out tax they don't owe. In the worst-case scenario, they don’t get any CIS tax rebate at all. Even if they do, all too often it’s nowhere near as high as it should be.

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CIS Tax Rebates and Tax Returns

Does my CIS tax refund include my self assessment tax return?

Yes it does! All self-employed people, including CIS workers, have to complete a tax return every year.  The tax year ends on 5th April and you've got until 31st January the following year to send your tax return to HMRC.

At RIFT, we complete your tax return for you and claim your HMRC tax refund at the same time.  Just tell us where you've worked, and when, and we'll work out the cost of your travel.  We'll add any other job related  expenses you may have and fill in the tax forms for you.  All you need to do is sign them.

We'll send the forms to HMRC, handle any questions on your behalf and chase them if you don't pay out in the agreed timescale - it's part of our service.

95% of our CIS customers get a tax refund, and the average value of refunds is £2,000 per year.

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CIS Tax Advice

What are the penalties for late CIS filing?

The taxman takes a very dim view of late filing, and the CIS is no exception. Miss the deadline by a single day, and you'll get a £100 penalty.

At 2 months late, that fine doubles. At 6 and 12 months late, the penalty reaches £300 (or 5% of the CIS deductions on the return, if that's higher). Any longer and you might face an additional penalty of £3,000, or 100% of the CIS deductions on the return.

Make sure you keep up to date with important tax return deadlines. If you're with RIFT we'll handle all of that for you and make sure you never miss the filing dates. As with all things tax-related, we can keep you in the taxman's good books and make sure you don't miss out on CIS tax claims that you may not have been aware you could claim for.

Whether you're a contractor or subcontractor, there's a lot RIFT Refunds can do to save you money.

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Tax returns

Self assessment tax returns done right with RIFT

What is a CIS tax return and how much tax do I owe?  A common question and there are a few ways to work out how much tax you should be paying.  If you're employed then tax will be taken from your salary by your employer using your tax code.  If you have other sources of income, though, you may have calculations to make to work out your tax return. If you file your own self assessment tax returns then tax returns can be difficult to get right and dangerous to get wrong.

If you are now self-employed then you should get your self registered as self-employed as soon as possible after you start trading. The deadline's the 5th of October in the year your started your self-employment.  Miss that, and you're risking self assessment tax return penalties based on the potential lost tax.  However, with RIFT on your side we can ensure that your tax returns are in safe hands.

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RIFT Guarantee

Our Guarantee means you'll never lose a penny

When you claim your construction tax refund with RIFT, our unique RIFT Guarantee means that you don't have to worry about the taxman reclaiming any of your money. So long as you give us full and accurate information, if HMRC disagrees with the amount that we’ve claimed and ask for the money back, we’ll pay it. It won’t cost you a penny.

RIFT Guarantee

Customer stories

"RIFT helped me after my previous accountants messed up and left me with fines."

"One of my mates at work uses RIFT so I gave them a go because the last people who were doing my tax for me weren’t doing it properly and I ended up with £600 in fines.

The service from RIFT was fantastic, they really helped me out and I was ecstatic when I found out how much I was getting. It’s way more than I ever had before. I put the money in the baby fund, our first baby’s due in January so we’ll be able to get everything we need for her and not worry about where the money’s coming from.

The service was fantastic, especially after the last people who were doing it for me ended up getting me fined £600 because they weren’t sending off my information when they said they were, lost my documents and HMRC classed it as my fault. RIFT really helped me right out.

Scott Whitelock, 31, self-employed flooring contractor

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Refer a Friend

Extra cash for you and your mates

Help your mates get their tax refund and get extra cash in your own pocket! 

At RIFT, we love it when happy clients tell their friends about us. We love it so much that we’re rewarding you for doing it!

We'll give you £50 for every friend you refer (T&Cs apply) that claims with us, plus we'll give you a £150 bonus when 5 people claim with us.

Simply tell us about your friend using our Refer a Friend form and we’ll get in touch to let them know you think they might have a claim.

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Registering for CIS

How do I register for CIS?

To register for the Construction Industry Scheme you will need:

CIS covers most types of UK construction work, with only a few minor exceptions. This means that if you're a contractor in the industry, you need to get set up for the scheme. You'll have to get registered, verify your subcontractors and take CIS deductions from their pay.  Those deductions then get sent to HMRC. You'll also have to file monthly CIS returns.

If you're a subcontractor, the scheme isn't actually compulsory. If you don't sign up for it, though, you'll end up losing 30% to the taxman instead of the standard 20% deductions. There's a chance you might qualify for gross payment status, where no CIS deductions are taken from your pay.  There are strict eligibility rules to pass before you qualify for that, though.

It's easy to end up paying too much tax through CIS and you won't get it back automatically. To claim your CIS refund, you'll need to prove what you're owed. This is what RIFT tax refunds is all about, so get in touch to see how we can help.

Remember that CIS covers all UK construction work, even if it's done by foreign firms. There are penalties for filing late, so you have to stay on top of the paperwork.

You can find out more about how the Construction Industry Scheme affects you here.

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CIS Advice

What is a CIS card? What kinds of cards are there?

When you register with the Construction Industry Scheme you will be issued one of the following cards depending on your circumstances:

  • CIS A(P): The basic card issued to most subcontractors. It shows that you're eligible to have your CIS tax deducted by your employers. There's no expiry date on it.
  • CIS 4(T): This is the temporary version of the card above. You'll probably only get this if you didn't know your National Insurance number when asked. Once you have your NI number, you'll be upgraded to a permanent card
  • CIS 6: If you're an individual, partner or director, and qualify for gross payment status, this is the card you'll get. There are tests to work out if you qualify, based on your turnover, the business you're in and how well you follow HMRC's rules.
  • CIS 5: This is for companies that can't get a CIS 6 certificate, but still qualify for gross payments.
  • CIS 5 (Partner): This is the version of CIS 5 for partners in firms.

CIS Tax Advice

What work is covered by the CIS scheme?

The CIS (Construction Industry Scheme) covers most types of construction work done in the UK, including things like site preparation, repairs, decoration and demolition. If a contractor only deals with very limited sections of the work, like carpet fitting, they may not have to register. For most general contractors, though, the scheme's compulsory.

The Construction Industry Scheme is a set of rules for construction contractors explaining how to pay their subcontractors. Here's how it works. When they pay a subcontractor, they take a cut of their money and send it straight to the taxman. Right now HMRC take a bite of 20% for workers on the registered subcontractors list, or a whopping 30% if you're not registered or haven't given your employer your UTR number (unique tax payer reference).

CIS Tax Advice

Does CIS apply to business outside the UK?

The CIS covers all construction work done in the UK, even when it's done by foreign firms.  The registration system is a little different, but all the basic rules are the same.  The UK has ''double taxation'' agreements with various other countries to reduce the total tax when you're paying in both countries.

CIS Tax Deductions

What is the CIS tax deduction rate?

The standard Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) tax deduction is 20%, so if you’re a CIS subcontractor you could well have overpaid tax. If that sounds like HMRC's taking a huge lump out of your pay, then consider the alternative; If you don't register for the scheme, the rate shoots up to 30%! This can also happen if you don't give your employer your Unique Taxpayer Reference number (UTR Number). Your UTR number is used by HMRC to identify you.  If your employers don't have it, the taxman might assume you aren't CIS registered and charge you at the higher rate.

Occasionally, people qualify for gross payments, where no tax is taken off at all. Gross payment status has several strings attached, though. There are tests to pass before you qualify, and annual check-ups from HMRC.


CIS Tax Refunds

What are CIS tax deductions and how does it affect me?

CIS tax deductions are payments to HMRC that your employer takes out of your wages before you get them. They're supposed to be about clamping down on tax evasion in the industry. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of the scheme is that a lot of workers end up paying too much tax. As a result, when the subcontractor submits their CIS tax return, most or all of their tax has already been paid.

CIS tax is a special tax scheme just for the construction industry. Under the CIS tax scheme, contractors make tax deductions from their subcontractors and pay the money to HMRC. The CIS tax deductions count as advance payments towards the subcontractor's tax and National Insurance.

Working on a building site keeps you busy, so there's no reason your CIS subcontractor tax rebate should be hard work too. Here at RIFT, our friendly helpful team can quickly tell you if you're due a tax rebate or you can get an instant estimate of your refund value use our tax rebate calculator.

CIS payment and deduction certificate

What is a Construction Industry Scheme payment and deduction certificate?

A Construction Industry Scheme Payment and Deduction statement is a record of the money you've been paid and taxed on if you work as a builder, plumber, joiner, electrician, groundworker or any other trade under the CIS scheme.

You, your employer and your colleagues might call them 'wage slips' or 'payslips' but their official HMRC name is Construction Industry Scheme Payment and Deduction Certificates.

If you're a self-employed contractor in construction, they're among the most important documents you'll have.  When you file your CIS tax return each year, you'll need statements to prove what you've earned and paid.

You should be getting a CIS Payment and Deduction statement every time you're paid under the scheme.  You're contractor has to send them to you inside 14 days of the end of each tax month.

CIS Tax Returns

CIS Payments and Deduction Certificate

What do I need my CIS payment and deduction statements for?

The main thing you'll need your CIS certificates or wage slips for is filing your yearly Self Assessment tax returns.

HMRC needs to see a full record of all the money you've got coming in, so they can work out what tax you owe. Of course, the CIS scheme already takes 20% of your pay before you get it without taking your personal allowance into account, which means that you’re probably paying too much tax.

Without your CIS certificates though, you'll probably have a tough time proving that you've already paid all that tax and that HMRC should give you some of it back.

CIS Tax Returns

CIS Payments and Deduction Certificate

I only work for 1 company and my pay is taxed before I get it so am I PAYE or CIS?

Employment in the building industry can get very complicated and it can be hard to work out if you are PAYE or self-employed with the many layers of contracting and sub-contracting that happen on large sites and projects. It might seem that your working conditions are exactly the same as a colleague who counts as being in full time employment, but it may not be the case in HMRC’s eyes.

If your payslips say “CIS statement” on them and are showing deductions of 20%, it means you’re being taxed under the Construction Industry Scheme. If you think that isn’t correct then you should speak to whoever handles your wages immediately.

The CIS scheme is unique to the construction industry.  The rules might be new to you even if you've been self-employed in another sector in the past.  When self-employed friends offer help and advice on what to do, for instance, it's important to realise that the CIS rules are different.

Make sure you don’t end up out of pocket, or worse on the wrong side of HMRC. Talk to RIFT to find out what you need to do and how to claim CIS tax back.

CIS Tax Advice

Who counts as a CIS contractor or subcontractor?

In construction, a contractor is a person or business who supplies materials or labour for a job. A subcontractor is anyone who does construction work for a contractor. Basically, according to HMRC, you're a contractor if:

  • You pay subcontractors for construction work.
  • Your business doesn't do construction work but still spends an average of over £1m a year on construction in any 3-year period.

You must register for CIS (Construction Industry Scheme) if you are a contractor. You are classified as a subcontractor if:

  • You do construction work for a contractor.
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CIS Tax Advice

What must I do as a CIS contractor?

As a contractor you need to register for CIS before you even take on your first subcontractor. You're going to have a lot of responsibilities under the scheme, so get used to minding the details. Here's what you need to do:

  • Get registered. You can do this online, but it can take up to 2 weeks to sort out. Make sure you allow for this time before taking on any subcontractors. You can sign up as a Sole Trader, a Limited Company or a Partnership. Remember, you need to do this even if you're based abroad. When you're paid by the contractor, make sure you're using the same name and business address you gave to this CIS. If the contractor can't verify you're on the scheme, it's as bad as not being on it.
  • When you're employing subcontractors, you have to "verify" them with HMRC. This means checking that they're in the CIS scheme. Again, you can do this for free on the HMRC site. In addition to the information your subcontractors give you, you'll need to enter some basic details about your own business.
  • When you start paying your subcontractors, you'll be making deductions from their pay for CIS. The rates are 20% if they're registered for the scheme, or 30% if not. Make sure you're working out the gross pay correctly. Charges for things like VAT, materials and equipment aren't included.
  • Pay the CIS deductions to HMRC. They'll have set you up a payment scheme when you registered.
  • File your monthly CIS returns. There's an online tool for this, or you can use commercial software. These have to be spot-on, with up to £3,000 penalties for giving the wrong employment status for a subcontractor.

Whatever kind of business you are, make sure your tax calculations are accurate and your payment's on time.  If you CIS payments mean you've paid too much tax, you can claim a CIS tax refund.

It's possible to apply for ''gross payment status'', where the contractor won't take any deduction from your pay. If you do that, you'll have to pay it all yourself at the end of the tax year. You can apply for this from your account page on the HMRC site. HMRC will check each year to see if you still qualify for gross payments.

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CIS subcontractors

What sort of tax relief am I missing out on?

When you're claiming a subcontractor tax refund, it's easy to miss out on some of the money you're owed. The rules are complicated in places, and a lot of people either get tripped up or put off from claiming altogether. There are tricky regulations around things like mileage relief and capital allowances that not many understand. Even pricey accountants can find themselves tangled up in the system if they don't know the construction industry. RIFT Tax Refunds have been specialising in construction rebates since 1999. There are really no safer hands to be in.

Gross Payment Status

How do I qualify for gross payment status?

Gross payment status, where no CIS deductions are taken from your pay, depend on 3 basic tests:

The turnover test: To pass this, you need to have a net annual turnover of £30,000+ for 3 continuous years.

The business test: The checks that you're in a business that qualifies for gross payments. In general, that means construction work. You also have to do business through a bank account and keep proper records.

The compliance test: This test checks whether you've got a clean record with HMRC. You must have a history of paying all your taxes and hitting your deadlines to pass it.

Need more help?

Wondering if you can claim a tax refund or need to submit a tax return? Use our online tools to find out if you're owed money by HMRC.

Do I Qualify?

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