1. How CIS works

The Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) is administered by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). It regulates payments from contractors to subcontractors in the building industry.

All building contractors and subcontractors should register with the scheme.

Who is a CIS contractor?

Anyone who uses subcontractors for construction work needs to register as a CIS contractor with HMRC.

Who is a CIS subcontractor?

You’re a CIS subcontractor if you’re self-employed and agree to do construction work for a contractor. You should register with CIS.

Subcontractors can also be companies.

If you’re a contractor and subcontractor, you must register as both.

Other people and organisations covered by CIS

Apart from builders, CIS can also apply to:

  • labour agencies and staff bureaux
  • gangmasters (or gang leaders)
  • property developers

Even if your organisation doesn’t do building work, you still have to register if you spend more than an average of £1 million a year on construction over a 3-year period.

Organisations where this could apply include:

  • housing associations or ‘arm’s length’ management organisations (ALMOs)
  • local authorities
  • government departments
  • other public bodies

There’s more information on who CIS applies to in the CIS guide for contractors and subcontractors.

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