beta This part of GOV.UK is being rebuilt – find out what beta means

HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

CIS: pursuit action: Return Period exemption signal

Maintain Return Period Exemption signal

This function allows a user to mark a specific return period as exempt from filing a return (The same function is also used to remove an exemption if necessary). The effect of this is that although a return might have already been issued to a scheme once this signal is set the CIS system will no longer expect a return for that period and therefore clear a CIS return work item on IDMS.

The Maintain Return Period Exemption signal may need to be set where:

  • DM wish to cease pursuit of an outstanding return (in other words, a ceased limited company has been dissolved and there is no prospect of ever obtaining the CIS return for periods before the cessation date)
  • a period of inactivity was requested by a contractor but was not processed in time to prevent the return to which the period of inactivity applied from being issued.

It should be noted that although return period exemptions are maintained in a similar way to penalty inhibitions, (see CISR65090), they are in no way linked. You will also need to decide whether a penalty inhibition should also be set when setting a return period exemption, as the system will continue to issue penalties in respect of the outstanding return even if the return exemption signal is set.

Note: Where the contractor scheme is closed on EBS and the cessation date falls into a previous tax year, you will not be able to set return exemptions for the tax years following the year of cessation. In these limited circumstances only, you should arrange to capture a Nil return for the return periods affected.

How to capture a nil return on the CISR system

To log and capture a nil return you need either:

  • CISR Pursuit Officer
  • CISR Pursuit Manager.

You can only capture nil returns one return period at a time.

From the CIS Main Menu, select ‘Return Capture Paper’.

You will now see the Log and Capture return details screen:

  • enter the relevant return period in the ‘Return Period’ (MM YYYY) (‘Date of Receipt’ will be pre-populated with today’s date)
  • select ‘Manual’ for the ‘Type of Return’
  • select the ‘Nil Return’ button.

You will now see the ‘Confirmation Details’ screen:

  • place a tick in the ‘Nil Return’ check box


  • place a tick in the ‘Declaration has been signed?’ check box (although you do not have a declaration you will not be able to proceed without placing a tick in this check box)
  • select the ‘OK’ button.

You will be returned to the CIS Main Menu screen and the Nil return will have been captured. You can view the captured Nil returns as you would view any CIS return using ‘View Customer’ from the CIS Main Menu.

Note - When you have finished logging the Nil returns you must make a note on CISR of the actions you have taken so an audit trail can be maintained.

The note you must use for the action you have taken in this situation is shown below.

‘‘Pro forma Nil returns captured MM/YY to MM/YY inclusive as contractor ceased DD/MM/YY - PID1234567”.

For more information on how to make a note (Record Contact) on CISR, see DMBM524558.

IDMS automatic action

When an exemption signal is set or a nil return is captured against a period that is already being pursued by DM an automatic update will be sent to IDMS to close the CIS return work item.

Where an exemption signal is unset, an automatic update will be sent to IDMS to open a CIS Return work item and this should be pursued under existing processes.

End Of Year (EOY) automatic action

If the return period exemption is set / unset or a nil return is captured for a period where the EOY total has already been calculated then the CIS system will recalculate the CIS EOY total and review the EOY status. If the CIS EOY position changes the system will send a CIS amended charge figure for the affected year and set the EOY CIS status indicator as appropriate.

How to set / unset the exemption signal

To set or unset the signal you will need the CISR Pursuit Manager role which is available to managers Band O and above. Once the role has been allocated you should access it via My Services.

From the CIS Main Menu, select ‘Maintain Return period Exemptions’.

You will now see the Maintain Return Period Exemption screen:

  • select the return year you want to set / unset the exemption signal
  • select the return period(s) by placing a tick in the appropriate boxes
  • select the ‘Update Exemptions’ button
  • select an option from the drop down menu for the ‘Exemption category’
  • put a very brief note in the ‘Reason’ box
  • select the ‘Set Exemptions’ button.

You will now see a screen that confirms the actions you have just taken. If the actions are correct, select the ‘Ok’ button to confirm your actions.