A DOG breeder who evaded paying more than £80,000 in tax has been sentenced.

Kevin Knox, of Barrons Way, Burnhope, County Durham, ran dog breeding business Ivy Leaf Kennel and lied about his earnings to evade tax, an investigation by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) revealed.

The 58-year-old under-declared his income on tax returns to evade paying the correct amount of Income Tax and National Insurance. He also knowingly failed to register for or pay VAT despite trading over the threshold since October 2012.

Knox ignored warnings from his accountant that he needed to register his business for VAT. The eight-year fraud was uncovered by the HMRC Dog and Cat Breeder Taskforce, which explores tax evasion in the dog and cat breeding sector through data and intelligence received from third parties.

Knox, who ran Ivy Leaf Kennel from his home, pocketed Income Tax, National Insurance and VAT totalling £84,537 between April 2008 and April 2016. He was arrested at his home in February 2017 and officers found documents from his accountant advising Knox his firm should be registered for VAT.

Knox admitted Income Tax and VAT fraud at Newcastle Crown Court last September. He was sentenced to 20 months in prison, suspended for two years, and 230 hours of unpaid work, at the same court on Wednesday.