Three Counties Dog Rescue fights to get back £61,000 in VAT

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A DOG rescue charity is fighting to reclaim £61,000 it has paid in VAT.

Three Counties Dog Rescue, which is based in Spalding Road, Bourne, is trying to claim back the money, which it paid over four years, from HM Revenue and Customs.

HM Revenue and Customs says it is not eligible to claim back the tax so the charity took its case to a tribunal, which was heard on Tuesday in Birmingham.

The £61,000 was paid between 2006 and 2010 on things like kennel payments and veterinary bills.

The tribunal was told during the one-day hearing that the charity expected people who were rehoming a dog to pay £150, which Three Counties referred to as a “donation”.

But HM Revenue and Customs says Three Counties it isn’t eligible for the refund, because to claim for VAT you need to make a charge for an item.

The charity accepts it should have been calling the £150 donation a charge and has since rephrased it as a “payment”.

But Three Counties argued that everyone who has rehomed a dog had paid the fee and received a dog in return. Several letters from satisfied people who had adopted dogs were shown to the tribunal panel.

Taxation director Phil Luty, from Dains chartered accountants, who is representing Three Counties, said after the hearing, that he was “hopeful” of a positive outcome for Three Counties.

A decision is expected in the new year.

Speaking to the Mercury this week, Three Counties’ treasurer and secretary Max Mauchline said that even if the charity received the money, it would still continue to struggle financially.

It costs more than £100,000 a year to run Three Counties, which rehomes dogs and cats, and relies heavily on fundraising.

Max, who runs the charity with his wife Gyll, said: “Of course, getting £61,000 would be of huge benefit but we don’t want to give the impression that Three Counties would suddenly be wealthy.

“It costs more than £100,000 every year to run Three Counties and the reality is that it runs at a loss, which we have to make up every year by the generosity of benefactors or from our own pockets.

“If we were successful and got the money back, the £61,000 would lessen the loss and mean that we wouldn’t have to rely on benefactors.”

Mr Mauchline said it was only because of the generosity of its benefactors that the charity has been able to continue running. Since Three Counties was set up 40 years ago, it has rescued and rehomed more than 5,000 animals within a 50-mile radius of Bourne.