This was originally posted under the title: Auditing Scientology: Reexamining Tax Exemption Eligibility which was the title of the article written by Taylor Holley.
I believe the ongoing public policy violations alone should be the immediate end of scientology’s tax exempt status. Taylor points out how “Public Policy” has been narrowly interpreted to mean discrimination, but this is not what the intent of this regulation is. Spending tax exempt money to spy on people, smear and destroy them is NOT in keeping with “public policy.” Scientology violates this every single day. The IRS sits on their hands simply because there has not yet been enough pressure brought to bear on them to act.
One of our commenters (ISNOINews) forward me a link to a wonderful piece by Taylor Holley, a Juris Doctorate candidate at Texas Tech University Law School written for the Law Review.
If you click on the link above, you can download the full paper — it is 27 pages long and summarizes all the facts and legal arguments as to why scientology should NOT enjoy tax exempt status.
Below I include her abstract summarizing the paper:
The Church of Scientology is one of the most discussed religions of the modern era, and its beliefs and practices have been shrouded in controversy since its emergence in the 1950’s. Shortly thereafter, the Internal Revenue Service recognized Scientology as a valid religion, thus granting certain governmental protections and benefits afforded to religious organizations in this country, including tax exemption. After a decades-long battle between the Church and the IRS, the IRS eventually granted a blanket tax exemption to all Scientology organizations under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
However, the Church’s current practices and activities raise significant concerns that warrant a reexamination of its tax exemption eligibility. The Church engages in activities that are substantially commercial by requiring payment from Scientologists to practice the religion and improve their spiritual standing. Additionally, the Church violates the fundamental national public policy that freedom of speech should not be suppressed simply because two parties disagree, a foundation of our nation that is trounced by Scientology’s Fair Game policy. Further, the Church facilitates private inurement of top executives and influential celebrity members by expending excessive funds for their personal benefit.
For these reasons, the IRS should reevaluate the tax exemption status of each individual Scientology organization, or risk undermining judicial decisions and creating the dangerous precedent that persistent attacks on governmental agencies will in turn lead to leniency and submission. Should the IRS investigate and determine that all Scientology organizations comply with the requirements of Section 501(c)(3), then retention of their tax exemption status would be completely warranted; however, to permit such activities to continue without question would undoubtedly defeat the principles behind tax exemption and raise legitimate concerns regarding the fairness of IRS decisions.
This is a terrific resource. Use it to brief elected officials. Send it to the IRS. To the media.
It lays out the arguments, with supporting citations to facts and law.