VAT changes for CIS Sub-contractors

Important changes to the VAT rules for building contractors and sub-contractors are coming into effect from 1 October 2019. In a nut-shell, if you are subject to the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS) and if you are registered for VAT, from the 1 October 2019 you may need to change the way you account for VAT on supplies between sub-contractors and their contractor customers.

At present, sub-contractors registered for VAT are required to charge VAT on their supplies of building services to contractors. From 1 October, this approach is changing and sub-contractors will not add VAT to their supplies to most building customers, instead, contractors will be obliged to pay the deemed output VAT on behalf of their registered sub-contractor suppliers.

This does not mean that contractors, in most cases, are paying their sub-contractors’ VAT as an additional cost. When contractors pay their sub-contractors’ VAT to HMRC, they can claim back an equivalent amount as VAT input tax; subject to the usual VAT rules. Accordingly, the two amounts off-set each other.

The change is described as the Domestic Reverse Charge (DRC) for the construction industry. It has been introduced as an increasing number of sub-contractors have been registering for VAT, collecting the VAT from their customers, and then disappearing without paying the VAT collected to HMRC.

However, the change to DRC may create cash flow issues especially if you use the VAT Cash Accounting Scheme or the Flat Rate Scheme. We recommend that all affected CIS readers contact us so we can help you make the necessary changes to your invoicing and accounting software and reconsider the use of VAT special schemes if your continued use would adversely affect your cash flow.

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