CIS - tax refunds for construction workers

Construction Industry Scheme (CIS): How to Claim a Tax Refund

CIS - tax refunds for construction workersIt’s now time to start the process of claiming your tax refund if you are a subcontractor working within the construction industry and have been paying tax, in advance, through the Construction Industry Scheme (‘CIS’). In this article we will tell you how you qualify and how to claim your tax refund. First, though, a little bit of background to the scheme:

The CIS Scheme

The Construction Industry Scheme, or CIS, is a scheme whereby a contractor in the construction industry usually deducts a proportion of the money due to their subcontractor, at source. The deducted amount is then passed direct to HMRC and counts towards the subcontractor’s tax and National Insurance, the tax element effectively being paid in advance. The exact proportion deducted depends on whether the subcontractor concerned has registered under the CIS system. If the subcontractor has not registered, the deduction will usually be made at a rate of 30%. If they have already registered, then the deduction will usually be made at a rate of 20%. Either way, by the financial year end, the amount of tax deducted at source will usually end up being more than they really needed to have paid, simply because it won’t have factored in the personal allowance which every UK taxpayer is entitled to (most UK citizens can earn up to £10,000 before paying tax at time of writing, this figure being set to rise to £10,600 in the tax year 2015-16, 10,800 a year later then increasing to £11,000 by 2017-18 following the recent budget proposals). Hence, many subcontractors in the construction industry will be due a tax refund because of the overpayment. The good news is that the time to apply for the refund is pretty much now, so get in touch if you’d like our help claiming.

What kind of work does CIS cover?

You qualify to be in the CIS system if you are a subcontractor who supplies construction work to buildings. This includes labouring, decorating, site preparation and refurbishment but excludes things like architecture, surveying services, the hire of scaffolding without labour, the fitting of carpets, the delivery of materials, and finally non-construction type services such as site facilities (canteens etc.).

What if your business is not in the UK?

Even if your business is abroad, the same rules apply if you work as a subcontractor within the UK. However there are some slightly different rules regarding the treatment of taxation for non-resident workers from countries which have ‘Double Taxation’ treaties with the UK (we can, of course, also help with that — just get in contact).

Registering for CIS

If you haven’t already registered for CIS as a sub-contractor, Taxfile can help to do this for you. You’ll need to be registered for Self Assessment (we can also help with this) and this will give you your UTR (unique taxpayer reference) number. We’ll also need your name, National Insurance number, your legal business/trading name and contact details. Once registered with CIS one of the immediate benefits will be that you’ll then have tax deductions made at the 20% rate rather than at 30%, which would otherwise be the case. If your business is a legal partnership you will also need to register it for CIS but this would need to be done in addition to being registered as an individual or sole trader. Of course, Taxfile can help with that too. Once you have been registered with CIS and have passed certain eligibility criteria, it is also possible to apply for ‘gross payment status’ meaning that you’ll then be paid by the contractor without the usual ‘at source’ deductions. Instead you’ll need to pay any outstanding tax and National Insurance at the financial year end; however HMRC will review your business each year to check that you still qualify for this status (paying tax late and/or submitting returns late would put your gross payment status at risk).

Offsetting Expenses against your tax

Taxfile can also help you to offset certain expenses against your subcontractor income. This means that any tax refund will be larger — or any tax outstanding will be lower. We can offset Read more

Casual labour / subcontracting

It is not widely known that you must establish someone’s status when you pay them any money for helping you with their labour.The trick or tip is to get them to supply their unique tax reference number. They should invoice you for their services . If they don’t offer an invoice, it’s best to issue a self billing invoice for them to sign at the time you hand over the money.
Lots of people will offer their services to you if you have work which needs doing. In some industries it’s well regulated such as within the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS).
Most labour suppliers will be registered as self employed or a partnership and frequently these days as a limited company.
Each of them will have its own unique tax reference number (UTR).
They are not obliged to put this on their invoice to you.
You must request it if you fall into the classification termed by the government as a contractor or subcontractor.
There is a useful helpline for Construction Industry Scheme if you are not sure about your position and always try to get professional tax advice from companies like Taxfile in South London where their tax accountants make sure to sort out all your tax affairs.
If for example you are doing up a buy to let then you do not necessarily have to register just for this one activity, just make sure you follow the invoicing guidelines as above.
It may seem a lot to ask of the person doing the work for you but these days you just can’t be sure of how the government will react if they discover you have paid someone without adequate proof that they are registered to pay tax on their own profits.
For more information on the new CIS you can refer back to our blog post dated 25th August 2007 entitled ”What is the Construction Industry Scheme?”