A short history of Animal Aid’s campaign to bring shooting tax dodgers to book

Posted on the 14th December 2006

Animal Aid's 'Feathering Their Nests' (2002) was the first exposé of fraud and tax evasion in the shooting industry. Since 2000, we have submitted numerous reports to taxation agencies detailing how the shooting industry was cheating the British taxpayer and the Exchequer.

Some six years later, HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) finally conducted a pilot study to confirm our findings. So far, HMRC has recovered an average of £19,000 in VAT from each of the 100 shoots in the study. Early results from an extended investigation of 1,200 shoots are revealing the same recoveries. This could provide an astonishing £20 million of unpaid VAT.

And there’s more; the VAT men have been liaising with their direct taxation colleagues. All of these details have been revealed in a leaked article from the in-house magazine oneHMRC: ‘It’s a wonderful project with spectacular results’ said HMRC Officer, John Spelling.

Animal Aid issued another major report on shooting industry tax evasion in July 2006. Cheap Shots was produced to reinforce how many in the shooting industry, amongst other taxation avoidance, dodged the payment of Non-Domestic (Business) Rates. Animal Aid was responsible for providing the information that brought the two biggest game farms in Britain into Non-Domestic valuation.

Our contribution to the recovery of shooting industry business rates has been verified in parliament by Paymaster General Dawn Primarolo. She also acknowledged that the majority of the game rearing industry remained out-of-sight from the government’s rating body, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA). Our next step is to persuade DEFRA to hand over to the VOA its Avian Flu Poultry Register detailing the size and location of every British commercial game rearing establishment. That DEFRA refuses to do this at present is indicative of the governmental confusion that exists between ministries on its own law and taxation criteria (See Feathering Their Nests).

In September 2006, the shooting industry published a report on its own financial worth. From a small sample of its own enthusiasts it deduced that 480,000 people spent £2 billion each year in an industry that was worth £1.6 billion to the national economy. Obscenely, it aimed to justify a cruel sport but instead shot itself in the foot. HM Revenue and Customs was reading its report.

With HMRC, Animal Aid will remain at the forefront of exposing the financial sham of the shooting industry. The HMRC aim will be to recover unpaid tax and bring the shooting industry into fair and impartial taxation. Our aim is to bring a deserved end to a cruel bloodsport.

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