The county reports 412 kennels with a total of 8,737 dogs in 2009, down from 537 kennels with 9,809 dogs in 2008.Â Of course, some may simply be operating illegally withoutÂ licenses, but just maybe, there really are fewer kennels breeding dogs for profit.
In fact, 2008 was a banner year for the millers with an increase in mills in Holmes County from 485 in 2007.Â Ervin Raber, the president of the puppy mill group euphemistically called Ohio Professional Dog Breeders Association, bragged that the mills in Holmes County alone had revenues of $9 million.
Dog breeding kennels were on the rise in Holmes County with nearly 10,000 dogs living in squalor by 2008. So what happened? Why the steep decline in numbers of kennels and dogs this year?
The answer may well be Ohio’s Department of Taxation. A cash-strapped state hit hard by the recession, Ohio officials wondered if those millers in Holmes and other Ohio counties were paying their fair share of taxes. They really wondered about this when they heard breeding dogs for sale brought revenues of $9 million to millers just in Holmes County. Â
Under Ohio law, ORC Â§5739.01(B)(1) sales tax must be collected on "[a]ll transactions by which title or possession, or both, of tangible personal property, is or is to be transferred…"Â Â§5701.03(A) defines "personal property" to include "every tangible thing that is the subject of ownership, whether animate or inanimate…and that does not constitute real property". Â§ 5739.01(YY) defines "tangible personal property" for purposes of the Ohio sales tax, as, "personal property that can be seen, weighed, measured, felt, or touch, or that is otherwise perceptible to the senses."
This means sales of dogs are generally subject to Ohio sales tax.
The Ohio Dept. of Taxation has been issuing reminders to dog breeding kennel operators in Holmes County and all other Ohio counties:
"We have been notified that you are doing business in the state of Ohio, as a breeder of domestic pets, and may not be collecting and submitting sales tax….Be aware, any individual in the business of breeding for the purpose of selling falls into the category of Animal Production. Accordingly, after an animal is bred for the purpose of selling, title or possession of tangible personal property is transferred. This constitutes an Ohio taxable sale. As a result you are required to register as a vendor, collect the proper amount of sales tax, timely file tax returns with payment of tax collected, and maintain complete records of transactions".
There are also federal, state and local income taxes. The IRS is investigating….
Curiously, under state law Holmes County could levy sales taxes. The Holmes County commissioners have supported puppy mills, even opposing state regulation that would help minimize pollution from improperly disposed of carcasses and animal waste and improve sanitation, fire prevention and treatment of animals, many of which are likely to end up in the public shelter, a burden on the taxpayers.
Yet, these same commissioners, too busy pandering to the millers, have done nothing to make sure the county gets tax revenuesÂ from these businesses that take in $9 million annually. Maybe the other citizens of Holmes County would appreciate it if the commissioners acted to benefit all of the citizens of the county by collecting tax revenues from these multi-million dollar a year businesses.
Does the prospect of paying taxes, even sales taxes, have the millers on the run inÂ Holmes County?Â If so, you can thank http://www.holmescountyexposed.com/ with its more than 1,300 advocates who have alerted the state to the uncollected taxes.
Ohio is not the only state where sales and other taxes are going uncollected from commercial dog breeders. Indiana has announced it will begin collecting sales tax from puppy millers July 1. What about your state? Contact Animal Law Coalition for information about how your state can collect sales and other taxes from commercial companion animal breeders. Â Â Â Â Â