7. 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 aren’t 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.

You must still file a return for the months when you made no payments to subcontractors (unless you request for your scheme to be made inactive). This is called a ‘nil notification’.

You can file returns for several subcontractors using the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) system.


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

Example 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, including ‘nil notifications’. The penalty will be cancelled if you let HMRC know that you didn’t 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’s higher
12 months late £300 or 5% of the CIS deductions on the return, whichever’s 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 against a penalty by writing to the CIS Penalty Appeal address.

Correcting or changing returns

If you make a mistake on your return, or need to change something, call the CIS helpline.

You can also write to HMRC.