Builders Expenses Guide

As a builder, whether you’re paid through PAYE or work under the Construction Industry Scheme (CIS), you may be surprised at what expenses you can claim back. There are, however, some differences to what you can claim depending on whether you’re a CIS or PAYE worker.

Claiming Capital Expenses as a Builder
As a PAYE builder, you are unfortunately unable to claim capital expenses. However, if you’re a builder working under CIS, you are able to claim capital expenses providing they are purchased for business use. For example, if you buy a laptop that you use exclusively for work or a car that you use only for work-related travel.

Claiming Motor Vehicle Costs as a Builder
As with capital expenses, as long as the vehicle you buy is used exclusively for business use, you will be able to claim the tax back on things such as fuel, insurance, and road tax.

Claiming for Tools, Equipment, and Uniform
If you work PAYE, you are able to claim expenses for any tools or equipment that you have paid for, if the same or similar item was not available from your employer. As a CIS worker, you are able to claim the purchase or replacement of tools as an expense.
You may also be able to claim back for wearing a uniform or protective equipment as either a CIS or PAYE worker. For more information, see our uniform expenses guide.

Travel and Subsistence Expenses
As a CIS worker, you are able to claim back travel and subsistence expenses during your time at a temporary workplace. A workplace is considered temporary if your contract is below 24 months. If your contract length is uncertain, the workplace will be seen as a temporary workplace until you have been there for 24 months, it would then be considered permanent.
As a PAYE worker with one permanent place of work, you are unable to claim expenses on travel and subsistence. However, if you are required to temporarily work somewhere else (at another construction site, for example) you will be able to claim travel and subsistence expenses during your time there.

Builder Admin Costs
As a CIS worker, your ‘remaining admin costs’ are considered any expenses that aren’t incurred in any of the other categories but relate to your work. For example; phone, stationary or postage costs.
As a PAYE builder, you are unlikely to incur any admin costs and are therefore unable to claim expenses in this category.

General Business Expenses
As a CIS builder, you are able to claim expenses back on things such as public liability insurance, union fees or working in a home office, etc.
As a PAYE worker, you are able to claim expenses back for trade union and subscription fees, as long as they relate to your specific job.

Mileage
Mileage can be claimed as an expense as long as the miles are incurred when traveling to a temporary place of work. As a CIS worker, this means that you are able to claim expenses on the miles you have driven for your contracts. As a PAYE worker, you are only able to claim mileage costs when traveling to a temporary place of work.

What expenses can I claim tax back on as a builder?

Expense
Can I Claim as CIS?
Can I Claim as PAYE?
Capital Expenses
Eg. new vehicles, PCs/handheld devices
Yes - as long as they are purchased for business use
No
Motor Vehicle Costs
Eg. road tax, car insurance, fuel
Yes - as long as the costs are for a vehicle used for business use
No
Tools & Equipment
Eg. purchased or hired tools, protective clothing, uniform laundering (for PAYE)
Yes – however as a CIS worker, if you don’t have a standard uniform (and wear every day jeans/t-shirt etc to work) only compulsory protective wear can be expensed (eg. a high viz jacket)
Yes – if you have paid for the replacement of tools/equipment rather than your employer, and the same/similar item was not available to use from your employer, you can claim these expenses back
Travel and Subsistence
Eg. Costs of traveling, eating and staying overnight at a temporary site
Yes
Yes - if you are traveling to a temporary place of work
Remaining admin costs
For CIS, this covers expenses incurred as part of your work not belonging in one of the previous categories eg: phone costs, stationery, postage
Yes
No
General Business/Other Expenses
Eg. Public liability insurance, home office, trade license costs, union fees, etc.
Yes
Yes, for trade union and subscription fees relating to your specific job only
Mileage
The number of miles you've driven for work
Yes
Yes – if you are traveling to a temporary place of work