Scientology's amazing tax break

2008-02-13 23:21

Go to the search engine of your choice, and enter these keywords:

scientology tax deduction religious training

Unlike any (other?) religion, the Church of Scientology gets a special tax break — money paid for their “training” is tax-deductible. No one else can claim this. Why can Scientologists? When this “training” is a substantial chunk of their income (and boy, do they get a lot of income), and is used to fund all sorts of health resorts and the like, it seems odd that it’s considered tax-deductible.

Why? It came about, somehow, during the IRS’s clash with the CoS organization over their tax-exempt status, which they apparently did not qualify for — until something mysterious and undocumented happened to cause the IRS to settle. Read more about Scientology’s mysterious, and perhaps unjustified, tax breaks.

But wait, aren’t they a religion?

Here’s what L. Ron Hubbard said about the decision to pitch the CoS as a “religion”:

Scientology 1970 is being planned on a religious organization basis throughout the world. This will not upset in any way the usual activities of any organization. It is entirely a matter for accountants and solicitors

In short: They are a “religion” only insofar as it gets them tax breaks. In other documents, in other places, they avoid the label. But in the US, where it allows them to avoid paying taxes on very large amounts of money, they are a “religion” — and indeed, one which gets special privileges that religions normally don’t get.

Peter Seebach



  1. There is one other reason that Scientology is now a religion even though Hubbard's original Dianetics organization was not. In the 1960's the FDA was starting to crack down on Dianetics practitioners for practicing psychiatry without a license and was moving to regulate the "tech" such as e-meters and so forth. Changing the organization into a religion got both the FDA and the IRS off Hubbard's back because if the e-meter is a "spiritual" device it is not legally considered medical.

    — Scott Stenwick · 2008-03-04 16:19 · #