CIS Contractor Tax Returns

If you are working via the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS), you’ll be required to file a self assessment tax return after your first year of trading and subsequent years. You’ll complete your tax return at the end of the tax year in April and pay any taxes that are due by the following January.

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Tax Returns for CIS

CIS Tax Returns

For most people in construction, tax returns are a fact of life. A mistake when filing a CIS tax return online can mean paying far too much tax on your pay. That's why RIFT has a specialist team of experts to offer CIS return help to construction industry workers.

When you're paid through CIS, your contractor has to chisel off a hefty chunk of your pay before you get it. That money does straight to HMRC. It's supposed to act as "advance payment" toward the tax and National Insurance you'll owe. Your contractor doesn't have any choice about this; it's just how the law works. From a subcontractor's point of view, though, it can be pretty painful. In effect, you're being taxed right from the first penny you earn, without getting your tax-free Personal Allowance. It's supposed to crack down on tax evasion in the construction industry, but in reality it's the honest subcontractors that are carrying the load.

The news isn't all bad, though. You can claim back the extra tax you've paid in your Self Assessment tax return. That's right: even though you've already had 20% of your money taken by HMRC, you still have to file a return. If you've paid too much tax, you can get a tax refund.

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CIS Tax Returns

Do I need to do a tax return if I'm self employed?

If you're self-employed in any kind of business, you'll almost certainly be using Self Assessment to pay your tax. In the construction industry, you'll probably also have to deal with the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS). Subcontracting under CIS means your Self Assessment filing has a couple of extra points to consider. If you don't understand the system, it's easy to end up paying a lot of extra tax you don't owe. If you think you are due a tax refund check out our CIS tax refund pages.

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CIS Contractor Tax Returns

What expenses can I claim for?

A key part of working with the Self Assessment system is understanding what expenses you can claim for. This is an area where a lot of people on Self Assessment miss out, and end up paying too much tax. Examples of allowable expenses in construction include:

  • Work travel costs.
  • Essential tools and equipment.
  • Materials you need for work.
  • General costs of running your business, from stationery to advertising.
  • Accountancy fees.

These are the essential costs of doing business, and they count against the income you're being taxed on.

Passing CIS work on

I work CIS. Can I pay someone to take on jobs for me?

Self-employed CIS workers can sometimes pass work on to other people. However, there are strict rules about doing this, and breaking them can lead to serious trouble. HMRC has a real problem with people in CIS work paying cash-in-hand for others to do jobs for them. It doesn't matter if you're passing the work on to friends, colleagues or family. You still have to follow the rules.

CIS Rules

What are the rules for passing CIS work on?

The first thing to know is that passing your CIS work on makes you a contractor in HMRC's eyes. That means you have to register yourself to avoid serious trouble from the taxman. You can't just slip someone a fistful of banknotes on the sly and sort things out later. You need get yourself registered before you take on your first subcontractor.

After that, you need to be sure your subcontractors are signed up for CIS. When you pay your subcontractors, you have to take CIS deductions from their pay and send them to the taxman. You'll also need to file returns every month and keep detailed CIS records. If you slip up, or ignore the regulations altogether, you're looking at some painful penalties.

Claiming expenses

Can I claim the money I'm paying subcontractors as a business expense?

As long as you're following the rules, then the cash you're paying the people you give the work to counts as an expense. That means it will bring down the amount of profit you're paying tax on. If RIFT is handling your tax returns, of course, we'll handle all of this for you as part of the service. 

HMRC enquiries

What happens if HMRC launch an enquiry into my CIS returns?

If you've been passing some of your CIS work on, then you need to have good records to show the taxman. HMRC will expect to see detailed evidence of the wages you've paid out, for instance. In addition, they'll also want to see the details of the people doing the work for you. Names, addresses and their Unique Taxpayer Reference numbers will all be needed. Again, RIFT will handle all the sticky HMRC business for you to keep you within the regulations and out of trouble.

RIFT was first founded to help construction workers tackle the taxman. We've grown a lot since then, but we always remember where we started. We're still the leading experts on taking care of the UK's construction industry. We're on great terms with HMRC, and know the business inside and out. Whatever tax problems or questions you've got, talk to RIFT.

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Here's what our customers say

We pride ourselves with being the first company in the tax sector to be awarded ServiceMark by the institute of Customer Service. That's because we're known for our friendly, helpful and jargon free approach to tax matters. But don't just take our word for it, check out our reviews. We invite our customers to tell us what they think about their experience with us on, an independent reviews site.

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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.

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