As a Government department, you would think HM Revenue & Customs an unlikely place to find puppies – but actually, they have spent the last few years chasing down tax-avoiding puppy breeders! The HMRC puppy taskforce is the government’s own puppy patrol, if you will, which has not only recovered some tax but has improved animal welfare by uncovering cases of fraud and abuse. Here´s how it works, what you should take away from this story, and how even HMRC likes puppies!
The HMRC Puppy Taskforce: a force for good
The HMRC Puppy Taskforce takes a multi-agency approach to hunt down tax-avoiding puppy breeders and illegal puppy dealers by teaming up with other agencies such as the police and animal welfare charities (the Scottish SPCA, Irish SPCA, and the English RSPCA).
Personally, I think that this is a fantastic example of HMRC being used as a force for good! As a task force, it hasn’t recovered as much tax as some of the other task forces HMRC have set up. However, what it has done very well is become a force for improving animal welfare.
As a force for good, HMRC’s ‘puppy patrol’ taskforce has really achieved. They have uncovered several cases of fraudsters selling illegally imported puppies and other cases of appalling animal welfare. Kind of obvious, in hindsight, that if you are a criminal, then you typically don’t care about animal welfare law or tax law! And this led to prosecutions and the rescue of many puppies.
** If you have information about a suspect puppy dealer, contact HMRC’s helpline on 0800 788 887.
The financial impact of the taskforce
While the HMRC Puppy Taskforce may seem odd at first, it has actually been a successful initiative in tackling tax-avoiding puppy breeders.
Financially, the impact of the task force has been relatively limited so far, with only £5.3m recovered from the first 257 cases (a handful of which have been tax bills between £100,000 and £500,000). But clearly, puppies are big business! This is in stark contrast to other HMRC campaigns, such as the Let Property Campaign, which averages £20m in tax recovered each year since being set up.
By working with other agencies, HMRC has improved animal welfare and brought criminals to justice. However, there are many more tax-avoiding puppy breeders and illegal dealers to catch! For example, HMRC believes that around 1.5m landlords still need to ´fess up´ as only a very small proportion have done so. This means that more landlords must sort themselves and make a voluntary disclosure – or face an HMRC investigation! And the same goes for tax-avoiding puppy breeders!
Lessons learned and help available
The HMRC Puppy Taskforce’s focus on tax-avoiding puppy breeders serves as a reminder that illegal activities can have serious financial consequences. Not only can individuals and businesses face penalties and fines for non-compliance, but they can also damage their reputations and face criminal charges. As such, learning the right lessons from this story is important.
- Don´t be an illegal puppy breeder or dealer!
- If you have yet to tell HMRC about something, now really is the time to get it off your chest.
- Take a proactive approach to tax compliance and seek professional advice if you are unsure about your obligations.
This story is an unexpected but welcome example of how government departments can work together to achieve positive outcomes. By enforcing tax and animal welfare laws, the task force has made a real difference in the lives of puppies and their owners. However, the task force’s limited financial impact also highlights the need for greater tax compliance and disclosure, which individuals and businesses should address sooner rather than later.
Need help? Come to us
If you need help telling the taxman about previously undeclared income or if you have already received that little brown envelope and are in the throes of a tax investigation, then get in touch.
We can help you ´fess up´ before it´s too late or resolve your investigation with the best possible outcome. Don´t wait any longer and seek our professional advice today.
** Remember, if you suspect someone else of being an illegal puppy breeder or dealer, you can contact HMRC’s helpline on 0800 788 887 to report your concerns.