IRS Grants Tax Exempt Status to Church of Scientology
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The Internal Revenue Service says it has granted tax exempt status to the Church of Scientology, ending a lengthy battle with the organization founded by the late L. Ron Hubbard.
″We’re extremely pleased, we’re ecstatic, we’re thrilled,″ said Marty Rathbun, president of Religious Technology Center, an arm of the church that holds its trademarks.
The IRS granted the exemptions Oct. 1, IRS spokesman Frank Keith said Tuesday night.
″We were able to make this legal determination because over the last many months the church provided adequate and detailed information to the IRS to enable us to make the legal determination they were entitled to tax exemption - that they were organizations operated exclusively for religious and charitable purposes,″ Keith said.
The IRS said it granted tax exempt status to ″various entities within the hierarchy″ of the church, but Rathbun said essentially the entire church was affected.
″We can now end what was a 40-year war,″ he said.
The IRS recognized the Church of Scientology of California as a tax-exempt religious organization in 1957, but revoked that exemption in 1967.
In March, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously that the church could continue its battle to regain documents and tape recordings obtained in an IRS investigation of Hubbard.
Hubbard died in 1986. His writings, including the best-selling ″Dianetics,″ are used as church scriptures and have been translated into 25 languages.
The Los Angeles-based organization claims more than 7 million members. Critics put its global membership at about 50,000 and accuse the church of brainwashing and intimidation.