Construction Confederation leads calls to pull out of Revenue negotiations unless April deadline is dropped

Construction representatives have threatened to walk out of negotiations with HM Revenue & Customs if it refuses to delay the introduction of the CIS tax scheme.

Officials at the department are meeting the CBI and accountancy specialists today in a final round of talks over the introduction of the revamped scheme. Industry representatives have warned that they may call it a day if the Revenue does not accept that the industry cannot be ready for the planned launch of the scheme in April.

Liz Bridge, the Construction Confederation’s tax director, who will attend the talks, said: “We are heading for a fiasco if the launch of the scheme goes ahead. There will be major bedlam. If this is not recognised, we may walk away from the table.”

This would put further pressure on the Revenue to delay the scheme, after software experts said IT packages could not be introduced in time. Bridge said that if the Revenue did choose to push ahead with the scheme in April, it would forfeit the support of industry bodies.

She said: “The Revenue can do its public launch without us in that case. There is no reason why we should be party to going ahead with the start of something that is completely unworkable.”

We will not be a party to something completely unworkable

Liz Bridge

The industry’s tax working group has compiled a survey to provide government officials with data on construction firms’ readiness to implement the scheme. The results of the survey were unavailable as Building went to press, but Bridge expected the results to confirm the views of the trade bodies.

Bridge said: “It’s possible, of course, that the survey may show otherwise, but I know of nobody who is in a position to be using the software.”

A Revenue spokesperson said: “Now more than ever, it is important that we maintain the dialogue with industry representatives. We will be taking them through key elements of the implementation this week, to help ensure a common understanding of what it looks like.”