File your monthly returns

You must tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) each month about payments you’ve made to subcontractors through your monthly return.

You can file returns by using:

On your return, you must declare that the subcontractors listed are not employees.

You could get a penalty of up to £3,000 if you give the wrong employment status for a subcontractor on your monthly return.

If you made no payments

You do not have to file a return for the months when you made no payments to subcontractors, but you must tell HMRC that no return is due.

You can tell HMRC if you want to make an ‘inactivity request if you’ve temporarily stopped using subcontractors. This lasts for 6 months.

You must tell HMRC if you start using subcontractors again.

Using commercial CIS software

Your return must not include any negative values if you’re using commercial CIS software.

If any entries come to less than 0, you should put ‘0’ instead.

HMRC might ask you later to give details of any entries you’ve replaced.


Send your monthly returns to HMRC by the 19th of every month following the last tax month.


If you’re making a return for the tax month of 6 May to 5 June, it must reach HMRC by 19 June.

Penalties for late returns

You’ll get a penalty if you miss the deadline for filing returns.

The penalty will be cancelled if you let HMRC know that you did not pay any subcontractors that month.

How late the return is Penalty
1 day late £100
2 months late £200
6 months late £300 or 5% of the CIS deductions on the return, whichever is higher
12 months late £300 or 5% of the CIS deductions on the return, whichever is higher

For returns later than this, you may be given an additional penalty of up to £3,000 or 100% of the CIS deductions on the return, whichever is higher.

Pay your late filing penalty.

If you disagree with a penalty

You can appeal within 30 days of the date on the penalty notice:

  • through HMRC’s online service - you can also track the progress of your appeal through the service
  • by writing to tell HMRC - quote your Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) and the payment reference shown on the notice

You cannot appeal over the phone.

Correcting or changing returns

Use the HMRC CIS online service to change or correct something on your return.

Tell HMRC by calling the CIS helpline if you need any help with this.