I thought I’d republish this little nugget from the K9 Magazine archives. I found it astonishing at the time and am just as disturbed by it now.
The super wealthy are being advised to get a pet to relieve their tax burdens, it has been revealed. British millionaires attempting to claim residence in another country for tax reasons have been told that owning a pet in another country will help convince the authorities in Britain that their claim of non-residence in the UK is true. One high street bank offered the advice to wealthy Brits at a seminar held in a swanky London hotel.
For years, wealthy individuals have sought ways and means of paying the least amount of tax they can legally get away with, but never before has a financial institution issued such potentially damaging advice.
Essentially, the advice was offered to those having trouble convincing HM Revenue and Customs that their overseas residence was legitimate. It was proposed that keeping a pet would help convince any sceptical investigators that the individual was definitely a non – resident Britain.
The advice has caused mixed reactions, with welfare campaigners branding it ‘irresponsible’. In order for the act of keeping a pet to be convincing and to serve it’s intended purpose, the pet needs to be one with which the individual would normally have an emotional attachment to. This clearly makes dogs an ideal choice.
But the concept of specifically choosing a social, pack orientated pet with a view to keeping it abroad clashes with the very basics of responsible pet ownership. However, the lure of lucrative tax relief will no doubt prove too tempting for some people.
The laws governing residency were described at the seminar as being “a bit floaty”, which is where the financial advisors, who were dishing out the advice in the plush surroundings of London’s Hyatt Regency hotel, expect the wealthy Brits to exploit the system.
It was reported by the Sunday Times newspaper that a lawyer from the firm Baker & McKenzie said: “It’s a very good thing if you’ve got pets there [abroad]. The Revenue gets the [right] impression.”
Whilst it may well be beneficial for individuals to keep a pet abroad in order to make the right impression, the message being sent out by the advisors in this instance is one of “get a pet and save money”. This is not a view that many who value responsible pet ownership would value or share.
Given the stringent laws governing quarantine and the movement of animals between the UK and other countries, it is unlikely that an animal bought for tax reasons would accompany its owner on return trips back to Britain. Taking into account the motivations behind such a purchase, it is unlikely that individuals with money saving on their mind would be keen to invest in pet care whilst they were not in the same country as their pet.
Whilst companies are benefiting from being dog friendly, other large institutions seem not to have grasped the value many people put on having a healthy and rewarding relationship with their pet.
Something interesting to read: why do dogs bark?