Understanding CIS Tax Returns

CIS Tax Return

For construction workers and contractors in the United Kingdom, the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) plays a significant role in tax compliance. Under CIS, contractors deduct money from a subcontractor’s payments and pass it to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). But how does the CIS tax return process work? Let’s delve into the details.

What is CIS Tax?

The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) is a tax deduction scheme specific to the construction industry in the UK. It requires contractors to deduct money from subcontractors’ payments for HMRC. These deductions count as advance payments towards the subcontractors’ tax and National Insurance contributions.

The Basics of CIS Tax Returns

1. Registration:

Contractors and subcontractors must register for CIS with HMRC. Contractors must verify subcontractors with HMRC before making any payments to them. Subcontractors can be registered as either sole traders or companies.

2. Payments:

Contractors deduct money from subcontractor payments and submit these deductions to HMRC. The deduction rates vary depending on the subcontractor’s CIS registration status and whether they have a gross payment status.

3. Monthly Returns:

Contractors submit monthly CIS returns to HMRC, detailing the payments made to subcontractors and the deductions withheld. This information is submitted online through the HMRC portal.

4. Verification:

Subcontractors can check the deductions made by contractors through their online HMRC account. They can also request statements from contractors to reconcile their payments.

5. End of Year:

At the end of the tax year (5th April), both contractors and subcontractors must reconcile their CIS deductions. Contractors provide subcontractors with a CIS deduction statement, detailing the deductions made throughout the year.

6. CIS Tax Return:

Subcontractors can claim credit for the CIS deductions made on their behalf throughout the tax year when they file their Self Assessment tax return. They report their income, expenses, and CIS deductions to HMRC.

How Does CIS Tax Return Work for Subcontractors?

1. Keep Records:

Subcontractors must keep detailed records of all income received and expenses incurred during the tax year. This includes invoices, receipts, and CIS deduction statements provided by contractors.

2. Complete Self Assessment:

Subcontractors must register for Self Assessment with HMRC if they haven’t already done so. They then complete their Self Assessment tax return, declaring their income and expenses, including any CIS deductions suffered.

3. Claim Credits:

When completing their Self Assessment tax return, subcontractors can claim credit for the CIS deductions suffered throughout the tax year. This reduces their overall tax liability, potentially resulting in a tax refund if the deductions exceed their tax liability.

4. Payment:

Once the Self Assessment tax return is submitted to HMRC, subcontractors are informed of their tax liability or refund amount. Payments are then made accordingly, either to settle any outstanding tax liability or to receive a refund.


In summary, CIS tax returns are an essential aspect of tax compliance for contractors and subcontractors in the UK construction industry. By understanding how CIS tax returns work and following the necessary steps, both parties can ensure they meet their tax obligations and avoid penalties. Proper record-keeping, timely submissions, and accurate reporting are key to a successful CIS tax return process. 

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BSV Staff

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