What is exempt from CIS?

There are a few activities within the construction industry that are exempt to the CIS, but there are also a number of anomalies. The principle activities that are exempt from the CIS include the professional work of engineers, draughtsmen, scientists and technicians, architects and surveyors, plus consultants in building, engineering, landscaping and interior or exterior design, plus the manufacture or delivery of materials to site, or the transport of spoil away from site. Note that this exclusion applies to all surveyors and architects, even if their role includes supervisory or executive function or responsibility, unless they are acting as a developer, which means they are in CIS!!

For all other professionals the exemption only applies to those whose services are consultative, not executive; so if any one of these other roles is actively engaged in the day to day running of a construction operation the work is in CIS!

In addition, whilst that the following operations are within the scope of the CIS,

‘installation in any building or structure of systems of heating, lighting, air-conditioning, ventilation, power supply, drainage, sanitation, water supply or fire protection’

This provision is straightforward but you should note the following points

  • only ‘systems’ of a type listed in the subsection above are included. It does not, therefore include other systems that may be found in a building or structure such as, public address, security, IT and so on.
  • More importantly, it only applies to installation of these systems, not their repair or maintenance. Neither does it apply to their alteration or extension(s).
  • However, the replacement of a system, for example, complete electrical rewiring, amounts to installation!

 Here is the definitive extract from HMRC’s CIS reform manual guide:

“ Repair of systems

The legislation regarding building service systems only refers to their installation. Therefore, repairs to any of these systems are outside the scope of CIS. Soldering a leaking pipe or patching a leaking boiler, replacing a defective tap, rewiring a single defective circuit, replacing a burned-out ventilation fan motor, replacing a broken wash basin, fixing a leaking radiator or replacing standard radiator valves with thermostatic valves, are all plainly repairs to a part of the overall building system.

Even where the repaired/replaced item may represent a significant component part of the overall system, such as a central heating boiler, its replacement does not constitute ‘the installation of a system of heating’ and therefore will not fall within CIS.

Repairs/replacements to building service systems will be caught, if they are carried out as part of a mixed contract of works, for example, a payment under a single contract to repair both a broken gutter (normally excluded) and replace broken roof tiles will all be caught under the scheme.”

In addition, the CIS does not apply if your work is:

paid for by a charity or trust, or paid for by the governing body or head teacher of a maintained school on behalf of the local education authority, or on the subcontractor’s own property and is worth less than £1,000 excluding materials – but you must call the CIS helpline to get an exemption for that!

The following list is taken directly from HMRC’s guide to operations that are exempt from the CIS:

  • manufacture or offsite fabrication of components or equipment, materials, plant or machinery and delivery of these to the site – for example:
    • traditional building materials
    • prefabricated beams and panels
    • ready-mixed concrete
    • manufacture and delivery of prefabricated site facilities
    • running of site facilities such as canteens, hostels, offices, toilets and medical centres or the supply of security guards
    • installation or replacement of telecommunication or computer wiring through pre-existing ducting in buildings
      delivery of road-making materials
    • setting out traffic cones
    • hire of scaffolding equipment (without labour)
    • delivery, repair or maintenance of construction plant or hire equipment without an operator – for example
      • concrete mixers, pumps and skips
      • installation of fire alarms, security systems, including burglar alarms, closed-circuit television as part of a security system, and public address systems, but not any preparatory works on the land such as digging, building/erecting concrete posts on which to install the CCTV
    • transport of materials from site to site on the public highway
    • assembly of temporary stages and exhibition stands including lighting
    • external cleaning (other than painting or decorating) of buildings and structures
    • drilling for, or extraction of, oil or natural gas
    • extraction of minerals, boring or construction of underground works for this purpose
    • manufacture, delivery, repair, servicing or maintenance of these items:
      • systems of heating
      • lighting
      • air-conditioning
      • ventilation
      • power supply and distribution
      • drainage
      • sanitation
      • water supply and distribution
      • fire protection works
      • lifts, plant or machinery needed by the specification of a building under construction or alteration
        replacement of system parts not involving other construction operations (for example, taps or a radiator)
        stairlifts requiring no alteration or repair to the building
      • tree planting and felling in the ordinary course of forestry or estate management
      • manufacture and delivery of lamp standards – routine maintenance such as cleaning and general replacement
      • manufacture offsite and delivery of flooring materials
      • manufacture and delivery of:
      • glazing materials
        computer and instrumentation systems
        thermal insulation materials
        heating and ventilation systems
        doors and rolling grills
        painting or decorating materials
        manufacture, delivery and installation of seating, blinds and louvered shutters
        manufacture, installation and repair of artistic works (for example sculptures and murals) which are wholly decorative in nature (not functional items caught by the scheme which incidentally have artistic merit)
        manufacture and installation of solar, blackout or anti-shatter film
        signwriting and erecting, installation and repair of signboards and advertisements
        carpet fitting.


Need some advice? Our knowledgeable, friendly team are ready to pick up the phone.

Put the kettle on and give us a
call on 01245 493832

Get a Free Quote for your Construction Payroll

"*" indicates required fields

EEBS needs the contact information you provide to us to contact you about our products and services. You may unsubscribe from these communications at anytime. For information on how to unsubscribe, as well as our privacy practices and commitment to protecting your privacy, check out our Privacy Policy.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Nick Pilgrim

M.D. | CIS Payroll Expert
01245 493832

Nick loves nothing more than chewing the fat over CIS payroll queries – actually that’s not strictly true; he likes playing golf and driving round Europe, but pick up the phone to him anyway!

Who are we, anyway?

EEBS clients are covered by our cast iron guarantee, providing you with 100% HMRC compliance

Our ongoing review process to keep them one step ahead of both current and proposed legislative changes

Uniquely, our service has never been challenged by HMRC in over 20 years of operations.