tax fraud

How to Simply and Effectively Report the Church of Scientology to the IRS

Alex.GibneyIn his outstanding op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times, director Alex Gibney took a bold public stand in demanding that the IRS and the US Congress hold the Church of Scientology accountable for its sweeping and documented abuses of tax exemption.

Gibney knows whereof he speaks for he and his colleagues  experienced firsthand the malicious and vindictive conduct of Scientology while making and releasing his acclaimed documentary Going Clear on HBO. The documentary garnered Gibney and his seven Emmy nominations and three Emmy awards, including Outstanding Documentary.

leah-remini1Leah Remini is now repeating Gibney’s call in her powerful new A&E series Leah Remini: Scientology and the Aftermath.

What can you do to help?

You can file a simple one page PDF form with the IRS and then e-mail to the IRS at:  eoclass@irs.gov.

IRS Form 13909 is a one page form that allows anyone – you don’t have to be an American citizen — to report the Church of Scientology and its related tax exempt entities for abuses of tax exemption. Download the form here. Scroll down for simple and easy instructions on how to fill out the form. As it states at its website, the IRS wants to hear from the public:


Sections 1 and 2 of Form 13909 ask for basic information including the address and the EIN number of the Scientology corporation about which you’re complaining. In the example below, I have filled out information for the Church of Scientology International (CSI). CSI is the actual corporate entity that manages the “Church of Scientology.”

csi-irs-13909

The EIN numbers and addresses for the six key Scientology corporations:

Church of Scientology International – EIN 59-2153393
6331 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 1100
Hollywood, CA 90028

Church of Scientology Flag Service Organization EIN 59-2143308
210 S. Fort Harrison Avenue
Clearwater, Florida 33756-5109

Church of Scientology Flag Ship Service Organization
118 North Fort Harrison
Clearwater, Florida 34615

US IAS Members Trust EIN 52-1840679
1311 New Hampshire Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90027

Church Of Scientology Religious Trust EIN 91-6254980
6331 Hollywood Blvd., Suite 1011
Hollywood, CA 90028

Religious Technology Center EIN 93-0801236
1710 Ivar Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90028


Sections 2, 3, and 4 ask for details.

What you can do: To make a general complaint, check the last box marked “Other” and demand that the IRS investigate Scientology for its violations of public policy: Spending tax exempt dollars to engage in spying, stalking, harassment of former members and critics — and the publication of hate websites that defame and libel former Scientologists, critics, and journalists.

Examples of the Church of Scientology using 501(c)(3) tax exempt dollars to engage in both propaganda and systematic violations of public policy:

• The Church of Scientology International spends tax exempt dollars to pay attorneys to hire private investigators for the purposes of engaging in systematic acts of spying, harassment, and intimidation directed against former members of the Church, critics, journalists, and filmmakers who expose Church abuses. Private investigators are paid tax exempt dollars to follow, photograph, and collect data on their “targets” and report this information back to the Church. This is part of a Church of Scientology conspiracy to attack, intimidate, silence, and destroy these people.

• Paying attorneys to hire private investigators who then illegally purchase the phone records of against former members of the Church, critics, journalists, and filmmakers who expose Church abuses. This illegal invasion of privacy is done in order to have Scientology-paid PI’s track the calls and contacts of former members of the Church, critics, journalists, and filmmakers.

• Using illegal means to obtain the flight and other travel information of former members of the Church, critics, journalists, and filmmakers in order to stalk and harass them.

• Making public the contents of private confessional data of former Scientologists in an attempt to smear, impugn, and humiliate former Church members who speak out against the abuse of the Church.

• The Church of Scientology’s Office of Special Affairs pays tax exempt dollars to hire writers, videographers, and social media specialists to create false, defamatory, malicious, and deceptive propaganda in the form of hate websites and publications. This malicious content is directed against former members of the Church, critic, journalists, filmmakers, and others who publicly expose Church of Scientology abuses.

• Paying for Google ad campaigns to promote Scientology’s malicious hate websites and smear campaigns directed against former members of the Church and critic, journalists and filmmakers who expose Church abuses

• Spends countless millions of dollars on lawyers to defend David Miscavige and the Church from the legal consequences arising from their own illegality, e.g. the Squirrel Busters.

• Deceptive and misleading fundraising activities. For instance, are monies raised by the IAS to “defend the Scientology religion” really meant to fund David Misavige as he spies on former Church members, critics, people in the media, and even his own father? Are these monies intended to fund Scientology’s malicious activities and then pay for endless lawyers to defend these activities as happened with the Squirrel Busters?

• Contrary to IRS Code, the Church of Scientology and its related entities do not make their 990 information widely available to the public. CCHR appears to be the only exception and publishes its 990’s online.


To make a specific complaint about the Church of Scientology — such as its refusal to issue repayments on “monies on account” or the way in which Scientology regges engages in misleading, deceptive, or manipulative fundraising practices, please include specific details:

1. Write a statement of facts and include relevant documents. Include these with the IRS complaint Form 13909. When I fill out the online 13909 PDF I save it. I then add documentation in the form of additional PDF’s, When complete, I combine multiple PDF’s into one PDF and e-mail it to the IRS: eoclass@irs.gov.

2. Be sure to date and sign the form and include your contact information. You may wish to check the box marked “I am concerned that I might face retaliation or retribution if my identity is disclosed” if you have concerns about Church retaliation. Note: You can submit the form anonymously.

3. Send it to the IRS by one of three methods:

• Email: Prepare your documents as PDF’s or web links, and send your complaint form with supporting documentation to eoclass@irs.gov.

• Fax: fax your documents to (214) 413-5415

• Mail: mail your documents to:
IRS EO Classification
Mail Code 4910DAL
1100 Commerce Street
Dallas TX 75242-1198

You can also write letters to the Ms. Tamera Ripperda, Director of Exempt Organizations, IRS. She is located at 1111 Constitution Avenue, Washington D.C. 20224.

Church of Scientology Policy Outlawing “Joking & Degrading”

Saturday Night Live has just done a magnificent parody of the Church of Scientology and its 1990’s promotional video We Stand Tall.

What must the Church of Scientology think?

I can tell you what the Church thinks: L. Ron Hubbard had absolutely no sense of humor and hated what he called “Joking & Degrading.” Hubbard formalized this into a policy outlawing Joking & Degrading (J&D) in the Church of Scientology.

One of the first things Scientology does to a person is to outlaw and destroy their sense of humor. As Hubbard wrote in KSW:

The whole agonized future of this planet, every man, woman and child on it, and your own destiny for the next endless trillions of years depend on what you do here and now with and in Scientology.

This is a deadly serious activity. And if we miss getting out of the trap now, we may never again have another chance.

Remember, this is our first chance to do so in all the endless trillions of years of the past.

Hubbard even made questions about J&D part of the False Purpose Rundown for Church executives.

J&D


Here is the actual Church of Scientology policy wherein L. Ron Hubbard outlaws joking & degrading:

Scientologists Are Not Jews in the Holocaust

Nuremberg

Led by violent narcissist David Miscavige, the psycho-terrorist organization known as the Church of Scientology has spent the past month hysterically attacking, defaming, and lashing out at everyone involved in HBO’s documentary Going Clear. Millions of tax exempt dollars were spent by Scientology to create and promote hate websites; purchase Google ads; pay for twitter campaigns; and finance Facebook attacks. There were also Scientology-paid PI’s seeking to intimidate people, threat letters sent out from Scientology’s attorneys, and other forms of Scientology intimidation.

Having failed to stop Going Clear, the cosmically insane Church of Scientology is now taking its usual fallback position: It is screaming that Scientologists are exactly like the Jews in the Holocaust. This is an outrageous and highly offensive propaganda card Scientology has played for decades. Scientologist Bodhi Elfman tweeted this obscenity today:

Bodhi Elfman

Notice the pattern: When Scientology’s vicious Fair Game fails, it hypocritically plays the Holocaust card and acts like a victim. This is an outrage because Scientology secretly considers itself the Master Race. In 1979, several Scientologists dressed up in Nazi uniforms to protest after the Clearwater Sun newspaper wrote a critical piece on Scientology.

Making this Scientology farce even more bizarre is the fact that the Church of Scientology and the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam essentially merged in 2012.

Bodhi Elfman is a wealthy man living a life of luxury in an upscale Los Angeles neighborhood. Elfman should publicly apologize for comparing himself and the multibillion dollar Church of Scientology, its lavish and marble-laden Ideal Orgs, and $360,000+ Bridge to the Jews in Holocaust.

The Church of Scientology and Bodhi Elfman are not Jews locked up in a Nazi concentration camp and never were.

This is the Holocaust:

Tony Ortega reposted images posted by Scientologists in social media. These photos show affluent public Scientologists  in 2015 indulging in every possible luxury at Flag:

Scientologist Jim Mathers posing in front of a model of the L. Ron Hubbard Hall the Church is wants to build in Clearwater at a price in excess of $100,000,000:

No one is stopping the Church of Scientology from doing anything. What is happening, however, is that the lies, greed, inherent violence, and the inhumanity of the Church of Scientology are being exposed. Scientologists can’t confront or handle this reality because it would mean admitting that they have been lied to and conned by their own Church.

Affluent public Scientologists like Bodhi Elfman are viewed as deluded Cult members for a reason: While they live in luxury, spend millions of dollars getting audited, and receive trophies and applause for donating money to the IAS, they want to drape themselves in the Holocaust when their Church is called out for its atrocious conduct.

If Bodhi Elfman truly cared about human suffering he could begin by cleaning up his own house and calling for an end to the brutal slave-like conditions inside of Scientology’s Sea Org. How can Elfman live in luxury when Sea Org members live lives of grinding poverty and are virtual prisoners of Scientology? Elfman should denounce RPF, Fair Game, Disconnection, and the financial rape of Scientologists by the Church. Elfman needs to take responsibility for these matters and quit pretending he is a victim.

The IRS needs to revoke Scientology’s tax exempt status. Scientology is a business and not a religion.

Bodhi Elfman needs to pull his head out of the sand.

How Did the Church of Scientology Wiretap Nicole Kidman?

Tom.CruiseIn the HBO documentary Going Clear, former #2 Scientology executive Mark “Marty” Rathbun reveals that Tom Cruise drifted away from the Church of Scientology in the 1990’s.

During the fifteen month period when Cruise was making the 1999 Stanley Kubrick film Eyes Wide Shut  with then wife Nicole Kidman, Rathbun describes how Cruise was not in contact with Church leader David Miscavige for about a year.

This greatly displeased Miscavige who ordered Rathbun to recover Tom Cruise and bring him back into the Church of Scientology.

A Scientology analysis of the situation indicated that Kidman was the problem as she was not inclined to do any Scientology nor was she pushing her husband to do any.


nicole_kidmanAccording to Going Clear, Cruise insinuated to Rathbun that Kidman should be wiretapped.

Rathbun relayed this to Miscavige who ordered it be done.

What are the ways in which the Church of Scientology could have arranged for  Nicole Kidman to be wiretapped?

We offer some interesting context and perspectives for Scientology watchers in this installment of the Scientology Money Project where our goal is to unravel the Church of Scientology’s money and legal labyrinth. In doing so, we seek to expose the ways in which Scientology is a law unto itself and routinely acts in violation of public policy.

The surprise that emerges in our look at how Scientology might have wiretapped Nicole Kidman is how Tom Cruise became entangled in this sordid matter for ten years due to a dirty private investigator.


Captain David Miscavige, Scientology dictator

Before we proceed to our timeline of Scientology, wiretapping, and Nicole Kidman, we must ask if Scientology dictator Captain David Miscavige has the capabilities to have people wiretapped.

The answer is yes.

Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard certainly had the capabilities to wiretap both individuals and government agencies and  he did. Specifically, the Church of Scientology under Hubbard had its own private Mafia called the Guardian’s Office or GO. Arrows in the Dark, a new book by former GO spy Merrell Vannier describes the illegal and covert activities of the GO.

The GO engaged in dirty tricks, stalking, harassment, wiretapping, and anything else Hubbard ordered. This is why the Church of Scientology was raided by the FBI on July 8, 1977 in the largest ever raid conducted by the FBI. The raid was in response to a series of burglaries, theft of documents, and wiretapping Scientology had engaged in against US Government agencies. This Scientology program of domestic espionage was called Operation Snow White and it led to Hubbard’s wife and ten other top Scientology-GO officials being sent to prison.

The Scientology GO was melted down and reformed into the Office of Special Affairs, or OSA. Despite Scientology telling the IRS that everyone in the GO had been purged, there are still former GO members working in OSA.


Guaranty_Building,_Hollywood,_California

Scientology Spy HQ (OSA) is located on the 10th and 11th floors (the two top floors) of the Hollywood Guaranty Building located at 6331 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA.

OSA is Scientology’s private Mafia and secretly reports to David Miscavige through intermediaries. This is done to maintain the fiction that Miscavige does not manage the daily affairs of the Church of Scientology.

OSA conducts both overt and covert psycho-terrorism operations against those who speak out against the Church.

OSA is directing the malicious and sleazy attacks upon Alex Gibney, HBO, and everyone involved in Going Clear.

OSA is doing so using 501(c)(3) tax exempt dollars.


In a shady attempt to keep Miscavige from being deposed in the Rathbun v. Miscavige case, the Church of Scientology has admitted in legal filings that it was behind the notorious Squirrel Busters operation and that Miscavige had nothing do with it.

Orchestrated and managed by OSA, the Squirrel Buster operation was an extended campaign of Scientology psycho-terrorism campaign of sustained harassment, stalking, and malicious hate websites and magazines aimed at former Scientologists, but primarily Marty Rathbun and his wife Monique. Liz Hayes of 60 Minutes offers an excellent short piece about the Squirrel Busters:

Rathbun and his wife Monique have had to endure years of OSA psycho-terrorism.

The attacks on HBO and Alex Gibney are simply more OSA psycho-terrorism.

So long as the Church of Scientology has religious protection it will continue to conduct its systematic programs of psycho-terrorism against those it deems enemies.

Scientology insanity will never end until the Church of Scientology is dismantled in its present form. Specifically, the IRS must revoke the 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status it gave to Scientology and all of its organizations in 1993. When this happens, Scientology will no longer exist in its present form.


One answer to the question “how can good people be involved in such a horrendous group like Scientology?” is this: Scientology is highly compartmentalized. Unless a Scientologist is involved in one of the criminal departments of Scientology such as OSA they would never know about the crimes and atrocious conduct of the Church — or at least this is the way the Church wants it.

Scientology acts to isolate its members from critical information; this is why Church-imposed-censorship and self-censorship is such an integral part of the Scientology experience. Scientologists are punished harshly if they read critical information.


female silhouette

Linda Hamel demanded that members of Anonymous remove their masks even as she remained in complete hiding. Ever the coward with evil purposes to destroy others, Linda Hamel is in hiding which is -8.0. Scientology Tone Scale.

OSA is managed by a Scientology Sea Org member named Linda Hamel. No known photo of Scientology Spy Master Linda Hamel exists. Hamel formerly worked for the Guardian’s Office where she was “Programs Op” for Operation Snow White.

Miscavige and OSA have the capabilities to wiretap people using dirty private investigators.

Lawyers filter information back to OSA and David Miscavige in ways that give Scientology deniability and protection from lawsuits or arrest.

Acting upon secret orders relayed from Miscavige by Rathbun, it is possible that someone in OSA could have covertly arranged for the wiretapping of Nicole Kidman.

Alternately, and more likely, Marty Rathbun may have bypassed OSA on the wiretapping of Nicole Kidman and went directly to the unnamed “Scientology consigliere” who had the power to order wiretapping on behalf of David Miscavige. If so, the unnamed consigliere was very likely an attorney working for the Church of Scientology. In true Scientology fashion, the lawyer would have hired another lawyer who hired a private investigator to wiretap Nicole Kidman.

While Scientology always seeks to do its dirty work at a remove, the identity of a private investigator who wiretapped Nicole Kidman has been known for many years. Whether he worked at the behest of the Church is presently unknown.


  Timeline

1999-2000: Efforts begin inside of the Church of Scientology to recover movie star Tom Cruise. David Miscavige orders Marty Rathbun to arrange the wiretapping of Nicole Kidman.

February 2001: Scientologist Tom Cruise files for divorce from Nicole Kidman. Cruise retains divorce attorney Dennis Wasser. When asked why he was divorcing Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise cryptically repeats to those who ask, “Ask Nicole. She knows.” This suggests that wiretapping had already taken place and Cruise had been provided with information about his wife’s behavior.

February 2001: ABC News reports that Tom Cruise is playing hardball in his divorce from Nicole Kidman. ABC News quotes the New York Daily News as having reported that Cruise had hired the infamous private investigator Anthony Pellicano:

Megastar Tom Cruise isn’t looking to play the good guy in his divorce from wife Nicole Kidman, according to People magazine.

Cruise, 38, reportedly shocked Kidman, 33, by rushing to file for divorce only two days after the pair announced their separation. “Nicole is not upset,” an unidentified friend tells the magazine, “she is devastated.”

“He is playing hardball,” family-law attorney Lynn Soodik, who is representing Meg Ryan in her divorce from Dennis Quaid, tells the magazine, referring to Cruise’s divorce petition, which reportedly spells out the actor’s intention to block Kidman from making any alimony claims.

Private Investigator Reportedly Hired

No lawyers actually working for Cruise or Kidman will comment to the press, but the New York Daily News reports that the Mission: Impossible star is hiring private-investigator-to-the-stars Anthony Pellicano.

Pellicano, whose client list includes Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Sylvester Stallone, James Woods, and notorious former LAPD Detective Mark Fuhrman, has been labeled “the Big Sleazy” by GQ magazine, according to the Daily News.

“I always start out by being a gentleman. I only use intimidation and fear when I absolutely have to,” he told People magazine in 1993, when he was working for Michael Jackson during the pop star’s molestation trial.

As of February 2001, then, there is a news story linking Cruise and Pellicano.

November 21, 2002: The FBI raids the office of Los Angeles private investigator Anthony Pellicano and finds C-4 plastic explosives and hard drives containing hundreds of hours of wiretapped phone conversations. These hard drives include conversations Nicole Kidman had with various people. The evidence seized by the FBI offers irrefutable evidence that Nicole Kidman was wiretapped. This confirms Rathbun’s statement that Kidman was wiretapped. However, there is no concrete evidence linking Pellicano to Scientology. Perhaps there is a grassy knoll situation here and a second wiretapper. Going Clear leaves the question hanging in the air.

It would take the FBI years to analyze the evidence seized in the raid on Pellicano’s office. In the interim, Pellicano is charged for illegal possession of C-4 plastic explosives.

October 2003: Pellicano pleads guilty to the explosives charge and is sentenced to thirty months in federal prison.


Anthony Pellicano. Photo" Hollywood Reporter

Anthony Pellicano. Photo:  Hollywood Reporter

November 2003: Tom Cruise’s lawyer Bert Fields publicly acknowledges that he is the subject of an FBI investigation into Anthony Pellicano and wiretapping. Fields denies any wrongdoing. People wonder if Tom Cruise will be pulled into the Pellicano wiretapping investigation.

February 2006: Upon his release from prison on the explosives conviction, Pellicano is immediately re-arrested on 110 counts that include wiretapping, racketeering, conspiracy, witness tampering, and identity theft.

March 2006: NY Daily News reports that Tom Cruise was questioned by the FBI about Anthony Pellicano and the wiretapping of Nicole Kidman.

March 2006: The New York Post reports that Nicole Kidman was questioned by the FBI about her having been wiretapped by Pellicano.

April 2006: The FBI names Cruise’s divorce attorney Dennis Wasser as a person of interest in the Pellicano case. From The New York Times article of April 26, 2007:

 Pellicano.1.NYT

The New York Times article concludes with attorney Kolodny remarking unfavorably upon the character of Mr. Pellicano; this while Tom Cruise’s divorce lawyer extolled the virtues of Mr. Pellicano:

Pellicano.2.NYT


July 2006: In an article about Pellicano, the New Yorker confirmed that Tom Cruise had hired Anthony Pellicano:

It was known, for instance, that Pellicano had been retained to work for Tom Cruise to suppress possible tabloid stories during his divorce from Nicole Kidman.

January 2009: Anthony Pellicano sentenced to fifteen years in prison.

December 2009: Michael Sapir sues Tom Cruise for $5,000,000. Sapir alleges that Cruise hired Pellicano to illegally wiretap his phone in 2001. From TMZ:

There is a long history between Cruise and Sapir. In 2001, Cruise sued Sapir for $100 million after Sapir claimed to have video evidence that Cruise “engaged in a homosexual relationship.” That lawsuit settled later that year. In the settlement, both parties issued a statement saying that no such tape existed.

In the latest suit, filed Friday in L.A. County Superior Court, Sapir claims Pellicano illegally wiretapped his phone during the time the 2001 lawsuit was active.

Sapir claims in the suit that Cruise, Fields and Pellicano were all in cahoots.

March 2013: Tom Cruise escapes the Sapir lawsuit when his attorney Bert Fields wins a motion for summary judgment. Hollywood Reporter:

…Sapir’s lawsuit against Cruise and Pellicano had other salacious tidbits. For example, Sapir also alleged that Pellicano taped recordings between Cruise and Nicole Kidman while the actors were going through their divorce.

But the lawsuit hasn’t survived.

On Monday, a Los Angeles Superior Court ruled from the bench that the allegations weren’t brought within the statute of limitations.

…Cruise joins Brad Grey as escaping Pellicano-related lawsuits thanks to the claims being time-barred. Many other lawsuits proceed, including one against Michael Ovitz for allegedly hiring Pellicano to intimidate Anita Busch. Recently, the same judge ruled that Ovitz has failed to show that he’s entitled to summary judgment on statute of limitation grounds.


The Scientology Mafia offers protection to Scientology celebrities. OSA can even make certain very difficult people problems go away. However, like all services offered by the Mafia, these services can be very expensive.

 

Scientology Cult Leader David Miscavige Seeks to Hide His Lies About the Death of Founder L. Ron Hubbard

LRHIt certainly appears that Captain David Miscavige and his inner circle entered into a conspiracy to publicly lie to Scientologists about the facts surrounding the death of L. Ron Hubbard.

This blog made a detailed post concerning the Church of Scientology’s lies to its members about the death of Mr. Hubbard. This post included the Sheriff-Coroner’s report and described details of Hubbard’s death. Hubbard did not “causitively drop the body” as Church officials claimed. Rather, Hubbard was in poor health and had a series of strokes that killed him. End of story.

The report also included the fact that Hubbard had been treated with the psychiatric drug Vistaril in the days before his death.

In support of our claims, we posted a link to a YT video of the LRH Death event held by the Church at the Hollywood Palladium on January 27, 1986.

This video had been widely available online for ten years and the Church has never done anything to take it down.

CDM.2Now, however, the Church had its Bridge Publications arm file a copyright complaint and had the video of the LRH Death event taken down.

We take this copyright complaint to mean that David Miscavige knew he had been caught — at a very inconvenient time given the HBO documentary —  participating in a past conspiracy to tell outright lies about the death of L. Ron Hubbard. True to form, Miscavige has acted to conceal the evidence of his lie.

L. Ron Hubbard did not discard a healthy body as attorney Cooley claimed. Moreover, Pat Broeker — who was assumed to have been placed in charge of the Church along with his wife Annie — was on stage making claims about future OT Levels.

The Church even issued “The Sea Org & The Future” Flag Order 3879 which placed Pat and Annie Broeker in charge of everything (see below). However, David Miscavige quickly eliminated Pat Broeker as an opponent and then claimed to all Scientologists that the “Loyal Officers”issue was a fraud. And yet, incredibly, if the Loyal Officers issue was a Broeker fraud how is anyone to believe the OTIX – OTXV levels shown on the Church’s “Bridge” are not also Broeker frauds?

If Miscavige seriously plans on releasing OTIX and OTX then the question of Pat Broeker and fraud arises. Add to this the fact that Captain Miscavige spent $12,000,000 Church dollars over twenty-five years to have two PI’s secretly follow Pat Broeker and there could be an interesting approach to matters here.

The Church of Scientology distributed this news article discussing the LRH Death event:

*****

L. Ron Hubbard’s death certificate, autopsy results, and the San Luis Obispo Sheriff-Coroner’s report:

J. Augustine — Chart 4

Intended to be read from bottom to top, this is the latest draft copy in my series of wall charts that attempt to explain the Church of Scientology.

Chart 4 argues that the weak link in the Church of Scientology is the Sea Org.

Jpeg on top; scroll down for PDF version.

Swift.Chart.1

__________________________________________________________________

PDF:

The Church of Scientology and Tax Exemption — Part 2

WHAT DOES “RELIGIOUS TAX EXEMPTION” MEAN IN AMERICA?

Thanks to free speech, any group in America can call itself a religion. However, only the IRS is allowed to make a determination on behalf of the US Government that a particular group is organized for religious purposes, operates for the public benefit, and therefore qualifies for religious tax exempt status. Under the IRS code, qualifying religious and charitable groups receive 501(c)(3) status.

Not all religious groups in America have tax exemption — and not all religious groups want tax exemption. Some religious groups want nothing whatsoever to do with the US Government and so refuse to file the required application for 501(c)(3) status. The application is called a Form 1023.

Some Evangelical groups argue that any religious group in America is automatically tax exempt and does not need to file a 1023 with the government. This view was basically correct until US tax law changes in 1954. Most religious groups in America, however, voluntarily file a 1023 as part of their formal incorporation process. Formal standing as a 501(c)(3) can also help a religious group avoid unwanted IRS attention that may arise from not having such standing.

Charitable groups with 501(c)(3) status must to file annual 990 forms with the IRS. However, religious groups are exempt from filing annual 990’s. This allows religious groups to be extremely secretive about their financial activities.

Nevertheless, if a religious group has unrelated business income in a given tax year it must file 990-T. These forms were private until a change in US law in 2006 which required 990’s and 990-T’s be made publicly available. This change in tax law allowed me to find $1.5 billion in Church of Scientology book value filed in its 2012 990-T’s. Click here to see $846,314,618.00 in Scientology book value.

Heal Our Land Ministries is one of many American religious groups with a highly critical  and anti-government view of 501(c)(3) tax exemption. For example, groups with 501(c)(3) status are legally prohibited from either endorsing or opposing candidates in American political elections. This anti-electioneering prohibition is controversial to say the least.

How did this happen? Why are tax exempt religious groups in America forbidden from engaging in political activities? The answer is twofold:

1. The Revenue Act of 1954 created 501(c)3 status.

2. The Johnson Amendment to the Revenue Act of 1954 prohibits tax exempt organizations from using tax exempt monies to either endorse or oppose candidates in political elections. Many religious groups maintain Senator Johnson of Texas, who in 1954 was the Senate minority leader, put his amendment into the Revenue Act to prevent Christian voters in Texas from using church monies to fight his reelection efforts and vast political ambitions. Johnson went on to become Vice President under President Kennedy.  Johnson then became the 36th President of the United States when President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963.

As a fairly new addition to the US tax code, section 501(c)(3) has been, and continues to be, the subject of intense litigation. For example, after the recent Hobby Lobby victory at the US Supreme Court, American Evangelicals are now sharpening their knives in search of a test case to overturn the Johnson Amendment. Many Christian churches in America have taken to openly and flagrantly violating the 501(c)(3) political prohibition each year on Pulpit Freedom Sunday.

The key argument for religious groups is this: Does the 501(c)(3) prohibition on political activities violate First Amendment protections?

Amendment I

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

In response to the willful and deliberate violations of the 501(c)(3) rules such as Pulpit Freedom Sunday, the atheist group Freedom From Religion successfully sued to compel the IRS to enforce the anti-electioneering  Johnson Amendment. Moreover, the group American Atheists is suing the IRS for what it alleges is the preferential treatment granted religious 501(c)(3) groups as opposed to secular 501(c)(3) groups, e.g. religious groups are exempt from filing 990’s whereas non-religious 501(c)(3) groups are not. Does this unequal treatment violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment?

 In the context of American political life, then, IRS Code 501(c)(3) is inherently controversial.

The controversial nature of IRS Code 501(c)(3) has engendered a great deal of litigation and disputation in America. This is the key point I wish to emphasize when discussing 501(c)(3) and the Church of Scientology. 

THE THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF AMERICAN RELIGION

Relative to IRS Code 501(c)(3) , one can say that there are three different types of religious groups in America:

1. Those that have tax exemption.

2. Those that do not have tax exemption.

3. Businesses pretending to be religions that have obtained 501(c)(3) religious tax exemption by making false representations to the IRS. These business are typically quasi-religious, or pseudo-religious, and consider they are entitled to tax exemption and other religious protections.

One example of a business pretending to be a religious group was the Music Square Church (MSC), formerly known as the Alamo Christian Foundation. From Wikipedia:

“Music Square Church was granted 501c tax-exempt status in 1981,[6] but this was retroactively revoked by the IRS on April 5, 1996.”

“The IRS Commissioner found that “MSC was so closely operated and controlled by and for the benefit of Tony Alamo that it enjoyed no substantive independent existence; that MSC was formed and operated by Tony Alamo for the principal purpose of willfully attempting to defeat or evade federal income tax; and that MSC was inseparable from Tony Alamo, and failed to operate for exclusively charitable purposes.”.[6] MSC sued and lost in the US Court of Claims. They lost on appeal to The United States Court of Appeals in 1999.[6]”

“In June 2013, the federal government filed forfeiture and collection actions in federal court on 27 properties owned by members of Tony Alamo Christian Ministries in an attempt to pay $2.5 million in restitution that Alamo was ordered to pay his victims. The U.S. Attorney’s Office argued that the properties remained in Alamo’s control and that the owners were “owners in name only”.[7]”

In America, the penalties are very harsh for any business pretending to be a religion. And this is exactly what happened to the Church of Scientology of California (CSC), the “Mother Church” of Scientology from 1954-1981.

The short and tortured history of the Church of Scientology of California ended in both the IRS and US courts finding that CSC was organized solely for the benefit of L. Ron Hubbard and his family.

In other words, CSC was a business pretending to be a religion.

This is the truth of the matter.

We examine the Church of Scientology of California, a business pretending to be a religion, in Part 3 of this series.