Knowledge from Crunch - love accounting

How to operate the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) in a limited company (or sole trader)

Posted by Ross Bramble on Nov 1st, 2018 | Tax

How to operate CIS in a limited company, image of someone laying bricks

Contractors registered under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) are required to deduct the following tax from their payments to subcontractors:

  • 20% deduction (if the subcontractor is registered for CIS); or
  • 30% deduction (if the subcontractor isn’t registered for CIS).

These deductions are paid by the contractor to HMRC as an advance towards the subcontractor’s tax liabilities.

Alternatively, the subcontractor can apply for gross payment status. This means contractors will pay you (or your limited company) in full, without deductions.

If you’re a CIS subcontractor working through your limited company, any CIS deductions made by a contractor from income due to the company can be offset against the company’s Corporation Tax liability, or refunded directly to the subcontractor by HMRC after the end of the tax year.

The position is the same if you’re a sole trader, but in this situation, any CIS deductions taken from you as a subcontractor are offset against your Personal Tax liability and will be picked up in your annual Self Assessment.

The relationships between these transactions are complex, and we’ve broken them down into various situations you may come across.

CIS where your limited company (or you as a sole trader) is the subcontractor only

You work for a contractor who pays you or your limited company (as a CIS subcontractor) and deducts either 20% or 30% for CIS payments. You or your company does not itself, employ any subcontractors as part of this arrangement.

The main contractor must file a monthly report to HMRC showing the deductions made from all its subcontractors, including your limited company (or you if you’re a sole trader).

For limited companies: Your limited company will then include the CIS amount deducted by the contractor through an Employment Payment Summary (EPS). Your company must submit an EPS to HMRC throughout the tax year as part of its PAYE arrangements.

Once the tax year has ended and the Final Payroll Submission (FPS) has been made, your limited company can complete an online form using your government gateway account. HMRC will then use the total amount of CIS deductions made by the contractor(s) you worked for to reduce your company’s Corporation Tax liability. If there’s any CIS credit left over, this will be refunded to your company.

For sole traders: If you’re a sole trader then you should include the CIS amount deducted by the contractor(s) throughout the year on your annual Self Assessment and this will reduce your personal tax bill. Again, if there’s any CIS credit left over, this will be refunded to you.

Your limited company is paying subcontractors

Your limited company is paying subcontractors to do work. None of the work is for another contractor.

Your company must complete a monthly report to HMRC providing certain information, including the amount of CIS deducted from your subcontractors. The report needs to be made for all individuals and businesses you employ as CIS subcontractors.

Your limited company pays all the deductions made over to HMRC in the same way as other PAYE taxes are paid.

You employ subcontractors but you’re a sole trader

You work as a sole trader, but on some, or all, of your jobs you pay subcontractors to do work. None of the work is for another contractor.

Even though you don’t need to run payroll to pay yourself as a sole trader, if you pay subcontractors you’ll need to run CIS payroll for them and complete a monthly report to HMRC providing certain information, including the amount of CIS deducted from your subcontractors. The report needs to be made for all individuals and businesses you employ as CIS subcontractors.

You will need to pay all the deductions made over to HMRC as other PAYE taxes are paid.

You or your limited company is working for a contractor and is also paying subcontractors

You or your limited company provides services to a contractor, and also uses subcontractors.

In this situation, you’ll need to combine the two previous scenarios:

  • The contractor will make the necessary CIS deductions from its payments to your limited company
  • Your limited company will make the necessary CIS deductions from the payments it makes to its subcontractors
  • The amount your limited company is due from, or is due to pay to HMRC will be the difference between these amounts.

If you’re operating as a sole trader then the situation is the same but as in the previous point you’ll need to make sure you operate CIS payroll for any of your subcontractors.

The position is summarised below.

CIS deducted by the contractor CIS you or your limited company deducts from payments to its subcontractors Amount you or your limited company is due from (or due to pay to) HMRC
£10,000 £5,000 £5,000 credited to your HMRC account
£5,000 £10,000 (£5,000) to be paid to HMRC

How can Crunch help?

Crunch has a CIS service which has been designed to streamline the whole process for contractors and subcontractors working in the construction industry. Just sign up, send us your information every month and we’ll take care of the rest. Find out more about the Crunch CIS scheme.

Build your own online accountancy package

Join 11,000 clients who trust our advice, support, and leading accountancy software for their business. Choose exactly what accountancy support you need with our new tool and get a quote in 60 seconds.

Join Crunch Chorus:
The free community for the self-employed

You'll get access to a range of benefits, such as invoice software, jargon-free business guides, great networking opportunities, discounts, plus much more

Useful tools and resources

Business guides

From understanding expenses to starting a limited company, we've a range of jargon-free business guides for you to download and keep.

Invoicing software and templates

Create, send and store sole trader invoices in a snap with our free invoice software. You can also download a selection of invoice templates for all business types.

Take-home pay calculator

Use our Take-Home Pay Calculator to work out your true earnings and see if you could save money with a different company set up.

Need help with your accountancy?

Join 11,000 clients who trust our advice, support, and leading accountancy software for their business. All the support and advice you need, wherever you need it. Speak to an expert today on 0333 311 0800 to find out more about our bespoke packages.

    Find out more