If you're an agent needing to deal with the tax affairs of clients who are working under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS), you need to be authorised to act for them. You can get authorisation online using HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) Online Services if you're registered with the PAYE (Pay As You Earn)/CIS for Agents service.
This guide outlines the potential scope of your role as a contractor's agent under CIS. It also takes you through some of the administrative basics - including getting authorisation to act for a client and registering for Online Services - depending on whether you're a new agent or already dealing with your client's tax affairs.
On this page:
It's up to you and your client to agree together the extent of your involvement. For example, your client might ask you to act for them specifically in relation to CIS, or to handle all their tax affairs. You can also:
Whatever the scope of your role, you must usually be authorised to act for your client.
Any agent can file a return for CIS on a client's behalf, even if they're not authorised with HMRC for CIS. But as a 'filing only' agent you won't be able to correct an error on a return or undertake other services like verifying subcontractors unless you're authorised. And HMRC’s free CIS software doesn't support filing only agents, so you'd need to use non-HMRC software to do it electronically.
If your client has asked you to act for all their tax affairs, including CIS, they'll need to tell HMRC that they've authorised you to act on their behalf. They do this by completing and returning the form 64-8 'Authorising your agent', which they need to sign. They should also make a prominent note on the form 64-8, or attach a separate letter to the form, making it clear that your client also wants you to act in relation to CIS.
Once you're authorised to act as their agent, you can register to make online transactions on their behalf.
If your client only wants you to act specifically in relation to CIS and not all of their tax affairs, you should do one of the following:
To tell HMRC you're acting on a client's behalf for CIS, you can write to them at:
HMRC CIS Subcontractor Registrations
Benton Park View
Newcastle upon Tyne
Remember to include:
You'll need to get separate authorisation for each new scheme that your client wants you to handle. You can also write to HMRC at this address for authorisation to take on additional CIS work like receiving your client's monthly returns.
New agents can register to gain online authorisation.
To gain authorisation to act online on behalf of a client for PAYE and CIS you'll need to register to use the PAYE/CIS Online for Agents service. You can access this through the Online Services section of the HMRC website. If you're acting online on the client's behalf for other tax matters, you'll need to register to use the relevant additional online services too.
To register, you'll need an 'agent reference' from HMRC. You can get an agent reference online from the Agent Reference Service. It'll take HMRC a bit of time to process your reference, so once you've got it please wait at least four days before you register.
Alternatively, your client can complete and send back the form FBI-2 Authorising your agent to use PAYE/CIS online services (Internet). Or they can authorise you through the Government Gateway website if they're registered and enrolled for CIS.
If you already handle your client's PAYE online you'll automatically get access to the CIS Online service, and you can use your existing agent reference. However, you'll need to seek fresh authorisation from your client to act online for CIS, because any previous authorisation will only have covered PAYE business.
You can do this in three ways:
If you're already registered as an agent for Self Assessment or Corporation Tax, you'll still need to register separately for the CIS service. You can do this through the Online Services section of the HMRC website. The first step is to get a reference from the Agent Reference Service. Then allow at least four working days before registering.
You'll need to get separate authorisation if you're planning to:
If you're not going to conduct CIS business online, but you've agreed to handle specific CIS paperwork like monthly returns, then you or your client should ring HMRC’s CIS Helpline.