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Labrador charity faces £11K tax bill

A welfare charity that rehomes rescues is facing a cash crisis after being told by the Inland Revenue that it has made improper use of the Gift Aid Scheme.

The Labrador Lifeline Trust said it had been told it could no longer claim Gift Aid on donations made when dogs were re-homed as they were deemed to be a ‘sale’ or a ‘service’. It was also told it owed £11,300 in unpaid tax.

"We have been dealt a devastating blow," said Anne Carter, the chairman of the Dorset-based trust, whose patrons include Penelope Keith, the actress.

She added: "The charity's reserves have been depleted by half. We will be struggling to help as many dogs as we have in the past. The numbers of Labradors needing rehabilitation are rising constantly, due to our throwaway society. Labradors are the most popular breed, according to Kennel Club statistics."

The charity has been claiming on donations since Gift Aid was introduced five years ago. The tax office has previously returned the money by cheque, and there has never been any suggestion of anything improper, Miss Carter said.

However, this year, following its first audit inspection, the eight-year-old charity says it has been told it can no longer claim Gift Aid.

The charity, which is run by volunteers, says it has been given 28 days to pay the £11,300 to the Inland Revenue.

Ann Britton, Labrador Breed Notes writer for OUR DOGS commented: "This could have potential implications for all breed rescues. I think in light of this, all rescues should carefully examine their constitutions to see that they are eligible for charitable tax rebates such as Gift Aid."