Sunday, 15 July 2012

IRS - Scientology "Thirty Years War"

IRS Scientology "Thirty Years War" -Village Voice Legal Expert Argues "Treaty" is Unconstitutional.

The IRS instead considers whether the organization maintains a “religious purpose,” which the IRS attempts to divine by asking (1) whether the beliefs of the organization are “truly and sincerely held,” and (2) whether the practices associated with the organization’s beliefs are not “illegal or contrary to clearly defined public policy.” Crudely restated, a qualifying religious organization must not be a sham, and it must not be morally repugnant.

Before considering how Scientology fares by this analysis, let’s first look at its tumultuous history with respect to the question of tax exemption.

The history of the Scientology religion is peculiar in that it began not as a religion but as a self-help therapy—a psychotherapeutic process designed toward self-betterment, as detailed in L Ron Hubbard’s 1950 book, Dianetics. Hubbard gradually refined Dianetics, which urged readers to audit themselves, to become Scientology, which administers the auditing under its strict auspices.
Sixteen years after Hubbard successfully foisted Scientology on the world, the advantages in labeling it a religion dawned on him when he was confronted with the problem of transferring assets from one non-exempt corporation to an exempt but inactive one. He wrote in 1966:
So we’re getting all straight now, it seems. And good news! As all auditors will be ministers, ministers have in many places special privileges including tax and housing allowances. Of course anything is a religion that treats the human spirit. And also Parliaments don’t attack religions. But that isn’t our real reason – it’s been a long hard task to make a good corporate structure in the UK and Commonwealth so the assets could be transferred.
– HCO Executive Letter Of 12 March 1966

This reconceptualization from psychotherapy to religion afforded Scientology a few distinct advantages: (1) protection against government regulation (with respect to Hubbard’s quasi-medical claims); (2) immunity from liability against claims of fraud; and (3) the monetary benefits of the tax exemption. Whereas most religious beliefs predate the tax exemption, Scientology grew in its enticing shadow, and indeed seems to have been molded by its allure.

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