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Is Turnover Before or After Tax in CIS?

Understanding Turnover and Tax within the UK Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) for 2024-25

In the UK, under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS), turnover is calculated before tax deductions. This means the revenue a business reports for CIS purposes does not have tax deductions, such as CIS or VAT deductions, subtracted from it.

Is Turnover Before or After Tax in CIS

Introduction to CIS and the Importance of VAT Compliance

The UK's Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) is a tax deduction scheme which involves tax being deducted at the source from payments which contractors make to subcontractors. This system is crucial for managing tax obligations within the construction sector, particularly around issues of employment and business operations.

From April 6, 2024, significant changes to the CIS will be implemented, impacting how contractors and subcontractors manage VAT compliance, a key component of financial management within the industry. Understanding whether turnover is calculated before or after tax is pivotal for all parties involved in the CIS.

In the context of the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) in the UK, VAT (Value Added Tax) plays a significant role, particularly with the changes implemented in 2024. As mentioned in the first part of the article, the changes emphasize stricter VAT compliance for those in the construction sector, specifically affecting the Gross Payment Status (GPS) under CIS.

Here's how VAT interacts with CIS and its implications:

  1. Gross Payment Status (GPS): To qualify for GPS, where subcontractors can receive payments without CIS deductions, they must demonstrate compliance with various tax obligations, including VAT. This means that subcontractors must have their VAT affairs in order, such as timely and accurate VAT returns and payments, to qualify and maintain their GPS.

  2. Increased Scrutiny on VAT Compliance: The reforms introduced in 2024 put a greater emphasis on VAT compliance. Subcontractors must ensure that they are fully compliant with their VAT obligations to avoid penalties or the loss of their GPS. This change reflects the government's efforts to clamp down on tax evasion and improve overall tax compliance in the construction industry.

  3. Impact on Turnover for GPS Eligibility: Since turnover calculations for GPS eligibility consider pre-tax values, it's essential for subcontractors to manage their VAT correctly to reflect accurate financial thresholds. Failing to do so can affect their status and eligibility under CIS.

  4. Digitalization and VAT Handling: The shift towards digital processes for CIS compliance also means that VAT handling needs to be integrated into digital platforms, ensuring easier monitoring and compliance by HMRC.

In summary, VAT is crucial in determining eligibility for beneficial treatments under CIS, like GPS, and the 2024 changes have made VAT compliance an even more integral part of maintaining good standing in the CIS framework. These changes are aimed at enhancing transparency, reducing fraud, and ensuring that all parties in the construction sector meet their tax obligations effectively.

VAT Compliance and Gross Payment Status (GPS)

VAT compliance has become a critical factor for maintaining Gross Payment Status (GPS) within the CIS. GPS allows subcontractors to receive payments from contractors without tax deductions. To obtain and retain GPS, subcontractors must demonstrate compliance not only with PAYE and income tax but also VAT obligations.

From April 2024, the criteria for VAT compliance under CIS will become more stringent. Subcontractors must ensure that their VAT returns and payments are accurate and timely to avoid penalties and maintain their GPS. This is a significant shift, as any VAT discrepancies post-April 2024 could lead to GPS being withdrawn.

How Turnover is Impacted by VAT and GPS

Turnover, in the context of the CIS, generally refers to the total revenue a business earns before any deductions are made, including taxes. For CIS purposes, determining whether a subcontractor meets the financial thresholds for GPS involves assessing their turnover before tax is deducted. This pre-tax turnover must meet certain minimum financial thresholds, which as of 2024, are set at £30,000 for each director or partner or £100,000 for the entire company or partnership.

The inclusion of VAT in the compliance checks means that subcontractors must be vigilant in their VAT handling to ensure it does not negatively impact their turnover calculations and, by extension, their eligibility for GPS. The reform emphasizes that while turnover is calculated before taxes (including VAT) are deducted, the ability to manage VAT correctly becomes indirectly crucial to maintaining a healthy turnover figure that qualifies for GPS.

Operational Changes and the Impact on Contractors and Subcontractors

The reform introduces several operational changes aimed at reducing fraud and increasing compliance. Key among these is the requirement for digital registration for CIS, moving away from paper-based and telephonic processes. This transition is intended to streamline processes and ensure that compliance checks for new GPS holders are conducted at six months, rather than twelve, promoting quicker verification and compliance assurance.

In conclusion, under the CIS, turnover is considered before tax, including VAT. However, VAT compliance plays a critical role in maintaining GPS, affecting how turnover thresholds are met and maintained. Contractors and subcontractors must adapt to these changes, ensuring they are compliant with the new regulations to avoid disruptions in their payments and maintain smooth operational flows within the construction industry. For 2024 and beyond, understanding these nuances will be key to navigating the CIS effectively.

Navigating the Tax Implications of CIS Turnover After the 2024 Reforms

Compliance Changes and Their Impact on CIS Turnover

The reforms to the UK's Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) scheduled for April 2024 bring about significant changes, particularly regarding VAT compliance and its integration into the Gross Payment Status (GPS) tests. These modifications have substantial implications for how turnover is treated under the CIS, impacting both contractors and subcontractors in their day-to-day operations and financial reporting.

Enhanced Focus on VAT Compliance

Under the revised CIS framework, VAT has become a pivotal element in determining GPS eligibility, which allows subcontractors to receive payments without tax deductions. Prior to these reforms, VAT mishandling might not have directly threatened a subcontractor's GPS unless it led to significant compliance failures. Starting from April 2024, however, even minor VAT discrepancies could affect a subcontractor's eligibility for GPS. Thus, turnover assessments, crucial for determining GPS eligibility, are more closely tied to accurate VAT handling than ever before.

Effective VAT management directly influences the reported turnover, as it ensures all financial thresholds are met without the burden of tax complications. It is essential for subcontractors to maintain pristine VAT records to safeguard their GPS and thus ensure their turnover remains robust and unaffected by potential tax deductions.

Strategic Financial Planning for CIS Participants

In light of these changes, subcontractors and contractors must adopt more strategic financial planning to accommodate the increased scrutiny on VAT compliance. This involves meticulous record-keeping and possibly upgrading or adapting accounting software to meet the new digital compliance requirements mandated by the CIS reforms.

For subcontractors aiming to maintain or obtain GPS, understanding the intricate relationship between turnover and VAT compliance becomes crucial. Since turnover is considered before the deduction of taxes for CIS purposes, subcontractors must ensure that their pre-tax revenue meets the stipulated thresholds, which as of 2024, include not only the total revenue figures but also the cleanliness of their VAT submissions to HMRC.

Risk Management and Business Strategy Adaptation

With these changes, there is a heightened risk of GPS withdrawal due to non-compliance with VAT obligations. Businesses must adapt their strategies to mitigate this risk by implementing stronger financial controls and compliance checks internally. Contractors, too, must adjust their practices to accommodate the tighter regulations, ensuring that all subcontractors they engage are fully compliant to avoid disruptions in their project workflows.

Moreover, with the shift toward digital applications for CIS and GPS, businesses need to be technologically equipped to handle online submissions and interactions with HMRC. This digital shift is intended to make compliance easier and more transparent but requires businesses to be proactive in embracing these technologies.

The integration of VAT into the compliance checks for GPS under the CIS has a profound impact on how turnover is calculated and managed. As we move towards the 2024 CIS reforms, both contractors and subcontractors must be vigilant and proactive in their financial and tax planning, ensuring they meet the new requirements to maintain smooth and compliant business operations. Understanding and adapting to these changes will be crucial for all stakeholders within the UK construction industry.

Long-Term Implications of CIS and VAT Compliance Changes for UK Construction Sector

Evolving Legal Framework and the Role of VAT in CIS Turnover

As the UK Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) undergoes significant changes from April 2024, the emphasis on VAT compliance introduces a new dynamic in financial management within the sector. These changes not only alter how compliance is measured but also have a lasting impact on the legal and financial landscape of construction businesses.

The Expanded Scope of VAT Compliance in CIS

The integration of VAT compliance into the criteria for obtaining Gross Payment Status (GPS) is a strategic move by HMRC to enhance tax compliance and reduce fraud within the construction industry. With VAT failures post-April 2024 impacting both new and existing GPS holders, businesses must adjust their financial practices to ensure ongoing compliance. This measure compels subcontractors to rigorously maintain their VAT records, as any discrepancies can now directly threaten their GPS status, affecting their cash flow and operational efficiency.

This broadened compliance scope means that turnover calculations for GPS eligibility must now account for meticulous VAT handling. Turnover remains calculated before tax deductions, yet the underlying compliance, including VAT, plays a crucial role in determining whether businesses meet the required thresholds without risk of penalties.

Technological Adaptation and Compliance

With the shift towards digital registration and compliance checks for CIS, the construction sector is encouraged to leverage technology not only for operational efficiency but also for maintaining compliance. The move to online platforms aims to streamline the application and monitoring processes, making it easier for businesses to stay compliant and for HMRC to enforce regulations.

This digital transition, however, may require businesses to invest in new technologies or upgrade existing systems to meet the updated requirements. Such investments are critical as they support the maintenance of accurate records and timely submissions, which are essential under the new CIS regulations.

Implications for Contractors and Subcontractors

For contractors, the changes mean more rigorous checks on subcontractors to ensure their compliance before engagement. Contractors must be diligent in verifying the GPS status of subcontractors to prevent any disruptions in their project schedules and financial liabilities. This diligence extends to ensuring that all subcontractors they employ are adhering to the new VAT compliance requirements.

Subcontractors, on the other hand, must be proactive in maintaining their compliance to avoid any interruptions in their GPS status. They need to be aware of how their financial management and VAT handling directly influence their eligibility for GPS under the CIS. Failure to adapt to these changes can result in severe financial repercussions, including delayed payments and increased tax liabilities.

The reform of the CIS with a heightened focus on VAT compliance marks a significant shift in how turnover and tax responsibilities are managed in the UK construction sector. The changes slated for April 2024 are designed to enhance compliance, reduce tax evasion, and promote a healthier financial environment within the industry. Both contractors and subcontractors need to understand these changes thoroughly and prepare accordingly to navigate this new regulatory landscape successfully. The long-term success of businesses within the construction sector will heavily depend on their ability to adapt to these regulatory changes and effectively manage their financial and tax obligations.

Case Study: Calculating Turnover and CIS Taxes for a UK Subcontractor

Case Study: Calculating Turnover and CIS Taxes for a UK Subcontractor


Let's consider a hypothetical scenario involving a UK-based subcontractor named John, who works exclusively in the construction industry under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS). John is a sole trader and has several contracts with different contractors over the financial year. We will examine how he calculates his turnover and the taxes payable under the CIS.

Scenario Details

John has undertaken various construction projects during the tax year. His total invoices to various contractors amount to £120,000. This figure represents his gross turnover, which is the total amount billed to clients before any deductions.

Step 1: Calculating Turnover

Under the CIS, turnover is calculated based on the gross amount invoiced to contractors before any tax deductions. Therefore, John’s turnover for the year would be £120,000. This is important for determining whether he meets the threshold for registering for VAT or for applying for Gross Payment Status under the CIS.

VAT Registration Consideration

As of the current thresholds, if John's turnover exceeds £85,000, he is required to register for VAT. Given that his turnover is £120,000, he must register and charge VAT to his clients. This VAT (assuming a standard rate of 20%) would add an additional £24,000 to his invoices, bringing the total amount invoiced including VAT to £144,000.

Step 2: Calculating CIS Deductions

John does not have Gross Payment Status, so his payments from contractors are subject to CIS deductions. The standard CIS deduction rate for registered subcontractors is 20%.

  • CIS Deductions: 20% of £120,000 = £24,000

This amount is withheld by the contractors over the year and paid directly to HMRC on John’s behalf. It's important to note that VAT is not subject to CIS deductions; thus, the deduction is applied only to the original amount before VAT.

Step 3: Net Income Calculation

After the CIS deductions, John's net income from his contracts (excluding VAT) would be:

  • Net Income: £120,000 - £24,000 = £96,000

This net figure is what John will use to calculate his income tax through the Self Assessment tax return process.

Step 4: Preparing for Self-Assessment

John will declare his net income of £96,000 on his Self Assessment tax return. From this income, the £24,000 already paid through CIS will be treated as an advance against his total income tax and National Insurance Contribution (NIC) liability.

  • Income Tax Calculation: Assuming John has no other income and his personal allowance is utilized elsewhere, his taxable income will be taxed at basic and higher rates. For simplicity, if we assume a basic tax rate of 20% throughout (ignoring the higher rate for illustrative purposes), his income tax liability would be around £19,200.

  • NICs: Class 4 NICs are also payable on profits. The rates are 9% on profits between £9,569 and £50,270, and 2% on profits above that. The NICs due would be calculated based on these rates.

Step 5: Final Tax Liability and Refunds

  • Total Income Tax and NICs: John calculates these based on his net income and subtracts the £24,000 already paid through CIS.

  • Refund or Additional Payment: If the CIS deductions exceed his total income tax and NIC liability, John would be eligible for a refund from HMRC. Conversely, if his liability is higher than what was deducted under CIS, he would need to pay the difference.

This hypothetical case study of John highlights the process of calculating turnover, understanding the impact of VAT, managing CIS deductions, and preparing for income tax liabilities under the CIS in the UK. Each step is crucial for compliance and financial planning for subcontractors working within the construction industry. This simplified example provides a foundational understanding, but real-life scenarios could be more complex, involving additional factors such as expenses, other income, and different rates which might affect the final tax calculation.

How Can a CIS Tax Accountant Help You With CIS?

In the UK, the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) sets out special tax rules for contractors and subcontractors in the construction sector. Navigating CIS requirements can be complex, involving detailed record-keeping, regular submissions to HMRC, and strict compliance procedures. This is where a CIS tax accountant can be invaluable. Here’s a detailed look at how such a specialist can assist.

Ensuring Compliance with CIS Regulations

  • Understanding and Implementing CIS Regulations: A CIS tax accountant is well-versed in the specific requirements of the CIS, including which types of work are covered, how payments should be handled, and the necessary deductions to be made. They ensure that contractors correctly classify and verify their subcontractors to avoid penalties from HMRC for non-compliance.

  • Handling Verification Process: Tax accountants can manage the verification process for new subcontractors, which is essential before payments are made under CIS. This involves checking whether subcontractors are registered with HMRC and determining the correct rate of deduction, which can be 20% for registered subcontractors or 30% for those not registered.

Optimizing Tax Liabilities

  • Minimizing Tax Liabilities: One of the key benefits of hiring a CIS tax accountant is their ability to help you legally minimize tax liabilities. This includes advising on allowable expenses that can be claimed against income to reduce the tax burden.

  • Claiming Refunds: Subcontractors often overpay tax through CIS deductions. A CIS tax accountant can review the amounts deducted throughout the year and prepare a tax return that accurately reports income and taxes paid, potentially resulting in a tax refund.

Streamlining Record-Keeping and Reporting

  • Accurate Record-Keeping: CIS tax accountants ensure that all CIS records are accurately maintained. This includes records of gross payments, materials, and deductions for each subcontractor. Accurate record-keeping is essential not only for compliance but also for resolving any disputes with subcontractors or audits by HMRC.

  • Efficient Reporting: They also manage monthly returns that need to be submitted to HMRC, detailing payments made to all subcontractors and the deductions withheld. Failing to submit these returns on time can result in significant penalties.

Advising on Business Decisions

  • Strategic Advice: Beyond compliance, CIS tax accountants can provide strategic advice tailored to the construction industry. This might involve insights into better cash flow management, deciding whether to expand the subcontractor base, and navigating the financial implications of large-scale projects.

  • Technology Integration: They can recommend and help implement accounting software solutions that are compliant with Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT. These systems can streamline the calculation, reporting, and submission of VAT and CIS deductions through digital records, reducing errors and saving time.

Handling Disputes and Inquiries

  • Dispute Resolution: Should there be any disputes over CIS deductions or status, a CIS tax accountant can act as a mediator between subcontractors and contractors or between the business and HMRC. Their expertise can be crucial in resolving these issues quickly and favorably.

  • HMRC Inquiries: In the case of HMRC inquiries or audits, having a CIS tax accountant ensures that your business is well represented and that all documentation is in order. They can effectively communicate with HMRC on your behalf, easing the stress associated with tax audits.

Training and Continuous Support

Ongoing Support and Training: CIS tax accountants can provide ongoing support and training to your financial team, ensuring they stay updated on any changes in CIS regulations and best practices. This is crucial for maintaining compliance and optimizing financial management over the long term.

A CIS tax accountant plays a crucial role in ensuring that construction businesses not only comply with the intricate requirements of the Construction Industry Scheme but also leverage these rules for financial advantage. From handling the nuts and bolts of daily compliance to strategic planning and dispute resolution, their expertise provides peace of mind and can significantly impact the business’s bottom line. For any contractor or subcontractor in the construction industry, investing in the services of a CIS tax accountant is a wise decision that promotes financial health and regulatory compliance.


Q1: What are the financial thresholds for turnover under CIS for individual contractors and subcontractors?

A: The financial thresholds for turnover under CIS to qualify for Gross Payment Status (GPS) are at least £30,000 per director or partner, or over £100,000 for the whole company or partnership.

Q2: What specific VAT errors can impact the Gross Payment Status (GPS) after April 2024?

A: Significant VAT non-compliance such as fraudulent VAT returns or late submissions can lead to the withdrawal of GPS.

Q3: How often will compliance checks be conducted under the new CIS rules from April 2024?

A: The first compliance check for new GPS holders will be brought forward to six months after registration, with subsequent checks typically occurring annually.

Q4: Are there specific types of construction work or transactions excluded from the CIS after the reforms?

A: Payments involving landlords and tenants for construction work, which were previously ambiguous under CIS, will mostly be excluded from the scheme following the reforms.

Q5: What digital changes are being introduced to the CIS registration and compliance processes?

A: From April 2024, CIS registration and compliance processes will predominantly move online, simplifying and speeding up the procedures for contractors and subcontractors.

Q6: How does a subcontractor apply for Gross Payment Status (GPS) under the new CIS rules?

A: Subcontractors will need to apply digitally under the new rules, except in cases where they are exempt from digital requirements.

Q7: What happens if a subcontractor loses Gross Payment Status due to VAT non-compliance?

A: If GPS is withdrawn because of VAT non-compliance, the subcontractor will face standard CIS tax deductions from their payments until they can reapply and regain GPS after rectifying their VAT issues.

Q8: Can subcontractors still use manual processes for CIS compliance after the 2024 reforms?

A: Only subcontractors who qualify for a digital exemption will be able to use manual processes; all others will be required to use digital methods for CIS compliance.

Q9: What are the penalties for failing to meet the new CIS VAT compliance requirements?

A: Penalties can include the withdrawal of GPS, financial penalties for late or incorrect VAT filings, and increased scrutiny from HMRC on future filings.

Q10: How does the reform impact the handling of VAT for contractors using subcontractors under CIS?

A: Contractors must ensure that subcontractors are VAT compliant to avoid disruptions and potential liability for incorrect handling of CIS deductions.

Q11: What specific measures are being introduced to combat VAT fraud in the construction sector?

A: The reforms include stricter monitoring of VAT compliance, immediate cancellation of GPS for fraudulent activities, and more rigorous checks at the point of GPS application.

Q12: Are there any specific documentation or records that subcontractors must maintain under the new CIS rules for VAT compliance?

A: Subcontractors must keep detailed records of all VAT transactions, invoices, and receipts to support their compliance and facilitate any audits by HMRC.

Q13: How does CIS affect the tax treatment of subcontractors who are not registered for VAT?

A: Subcontractors not registered for VAT are still subject to CIS tax deductions, and their payments are treated similarly under CIS, though they do not face the additional compliance checks for VAT.

Q14: How will the changes to CIS in 2024 affect subcontractors with existing Gross Payment Status?

A: Existing GPS holders must ensure ongoing compliance with the new VAT rules to maintain their status; failure to do so could result in the loss of GPS.

Q15: What are the expected impacts of these CIS changes on the overall tax liability of subcontractors?

A: The changes could potentially increase the tax liability for those unable to maintain GPS due to increased deductions, but compliant subcontractors will benefit from continued payments without deductions.

Q16: How can subcontractors ensure they remain compliant with the new CIS and VAT rules?

A: Subcontractors should regularly review their VAT filings, stay informed of changes, and possibly seek professional advice to ensure ongoing compliance.

Q17: Are there any specific training or resources available to help with the transition to the new CIS rules?

A: HMRC and various professional bodies are likely to offer training and resources to help businesses understand and adapt to the new CIS regulations.

Q18: What role does digital technology play in compliance under the new CIS rules?

A: Digital technology will be central to compliance, with digital applications for GPS, online compliance checks, and the requirement for digital record-keeping.

Q19: Can errors in VAT filings be corrected without losing GPS under the new rules?

A: Yes, minor errors in VAT filings can often be corrected without losing GPS, as long as they are rectified promptly and do not indicate a pattern of non-compliance or fraudulent behavior.

Q20: What future changes or updates should subcontractors be aware of in relation to CIS and VAT compliance post-2024?

A: Subcontractors should stay informed through HMRC updates, industry newsletters, and professional advisories, as tax laws and compliance requirements can evolve based on economic conditions and legislative changes.

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