Millions raised from tax evading dog breeders

More than £5 million has been raised by a HMRC taskforce tackling dishonest dog breeders who sell puppies on the black market.

HMRC set up the taskforce in October 2015 after discussions with animal welfare groups suggested tens of thousands of puppies were being reared in unregulated conditions and sold illicitly every year.

Officers uncovered fraudsters selling puppies on a mass scale and for a huge profit, but because of the underground nature of the activity failing to declare their sales.

Using a full range of civil and criminal enforcement powers, HMRC has recovered £5,393,035 in lost taxes from 257 separate cases since the formation of the taskforce.

Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride MP said: “It is utterly appalling that anyone would want to treat puppies in such an inhumane way and on such a scale. It’s also deeply unfair to all of the legitimate businesses who do pay the right tax, and the total recovered by the taskforce is equivalent to the annual salaries for more than 200 newly qualified teachers.”

Of those breeders and traders targeted, they include:

  • two unconnected puppy breeders in the west of Scotland who were handed tax bills of £425,000 and £337,000.
  • a puppy breeder in the Midlands who was former Crufts judge, given a £185,000 bill.
  • a dealer in Northern Ireland told to pay £185,000 in tax.
  • a Somerset puppy breeder was given a £114,000 bill.
  • a puppy dealer in the east of Scotland was handed a tax bill in excess of £400,000.
  • a Swansea puppy breeder was given a £110,000 tax bill.

HMRC is also involved in Operation Delphin – a multi-agency collaboration across the UK and Ireland, designed to tackle illegal puppy smuggling and the consequences it brings. It is led by the Scottish SPCA and includes partners such as the RSPCA, Ulster SPCA, Dublin SPCA, Irish SPCA, HMRC, the Border Force and the police.

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