Criminals are cashing-in on the demand for dogs by selling them on the black market. According to HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), dealers are failing to pay any tax on their earnings from the trade, while in many cases the animals are mistreated.
HMRC is targeting the dishonest minority of traders that cheat the system and last year set up a taskforce to tackle tax evasion in the industry.
Dogs and puppies fetch considerable sums of money on the illicit market and HMRC’s research suggests that it’s a multi-million pound industry, with tens of thousands of animals sold each year.
In a black or illicit market, sales are generally not declared because of the underground nature of the activity. When dishonest breeders and sellers don’t pay the tax they owe, they make it difficult for the honest majority of traders to compete in the marketplace.
HMRC cracks down on fraudsters
HMRC’s taskforce is tackling those fraudsters who breed puppies and sell them on for a hefty profit –but don’t declare their sales – with a full range of civil and criminal enforcement powers.
“What we are looking at is the black market where people aren’t paying any tax on the sale of hundreds of thousands of puppies, and some of them are being reared in unregulated conditions”, says HMRC’s taskforce project lead Graeme Mutter.
“Our taskforce teams are investigating these cases and we are using our civil and criminal enforcement powers to tackle the people behind it. We are supported by animal welfare charities RSPCA and Scottish equivalent, the SSPCA and the police.”
The UK’s tax authority is also working with a number of external partners to cause disruption to this industry, making it less attractive for anyone who might either be involved or thinking about becoming involved.
The intention is to target individuals known to be involved in the trafficking and selling of dogs which have originated outside the UK.
HMRC’s role is to assess intelligence received following stops/seizures at various ports, with a view to tackling tax evasion and to participate in joint operations where appropriate.
Anyone with information regarding tax evasion is encouraged to contact HMRC’s hotline on 0800 788887.