The Underground Bunker has copies of some stunning documents that were just released by our old friend, Jeff “OTVIIIisgrrr8!” Augustine. They are 990-T returns for the 2011 tax year submitted by the Church of Scientology International and the Church of Spiritual Technology, and they show that CSI and CST — which are just two of Scientology’s many entities — have a combined book value of $1.2 billion.
Since 1993, Scientology has had tax-exempt status, and your tax dollars — your IRS — has helped the church amass huge wealth. Scientology puts constant pressure on its members to donate huge amounts, it pays its workers pennies an hour because it is exempt from labor laws, and the result are these incredible amounts.
SEE UPDATES below for explanations of the revenue figures in these documents and for a statement by Mike Rinder, Scientology’s former spokesman.
First, here’s the Church of Scientology International’s 2011 tax form, which shows in the upper left of the first page that its book value was $790,758,896.
Second, here’s the Church of Spiritual Technology — the odd organization that constructs underground vaults in order to store L. Ron Hubbard’s written works so they will survive a nuclear holocaust. CST’s book value is $434,487,317.
By comparison, Scientology’s Celebrity Centre International network is worth a smaller amount, $39,392,879.
Another whopper: The 2012 return for Scientology’s “Flag Service Organization,” which runs the “spiritual mecca” in Clearwater, Florida where wealthy church members go for high-level processing. Book value: $209,655,686
Now here’s a return for just one of Scientology’s many “continents,” which are separate organizations in the church’s alphabet soup of entities. In this case, it’s the Church of Scientology Western United States (COSWUS), and the book value is $45,265,237.
The Flag Ship Service Organization (FSSO) runs Scientology’s private cruise ship, the Freewinds, which is the only place that church members can receive the highest level of spiritual counseling, OT 8. Book value of FSSO: $26,705,235
2012 return for the Association for Better Living and Education (ABLE), the umbrella organization for Scientology’s “social betterment” organizations (Narconon, Applied Scholastics, Criminon, and The Way To Happiness Foundation). Of special note — see that Rena Weinberg is listed with an income of $3,420, which is curious, since she’s been in “The Hole” since 2004. ABLE’s 2012 total assets: $14,711,161
2012 return for The Way to Happiness Foundation (TWTF), the organization, under ABLE, that produces and disseminates L. Ron Hubbard’s 1981 pamphlet of anodyne life advice. Total assets: $139,902
2012 return for Applied Scholastics, Scientology’s front group that pushes L. Ron Hubbard’s “study technology” on unsuspecting school districts. Also under ABLE, and gross receipts: $3,953,293
2012 return for Narconon International, the umbrella group for Scientology’s drug rehab network, Narconon (also under ABLE). Gross receipts: $8,483,722
2012 return for the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), Scientology’s rabidly anti-psychiatry front group. Gross receipts: $2,673,443
UPDATE: Some of our readers are wondering why the revenues are so low in these documents — FSO, which runs Scientology’s Clearwater complex, for example, is reported to take in millions of dollars a week, which are not reflected in these documents. But these are 990-T filings, which the IRS requires exempt organizations to turn in regarding their “unrelated business income.” Here’s the IRS’s definition…
Even though an organization is recognized as tax exempt, it still may be liable for tax on its unrelated business income. For most organizations, unrelated business income is income from a trade or business, regularly carried on, that is not substantially related to the charitable, educational, or other purpose that is the basis of the organization’s exemption. An exempt organization that has $1,000 or more of gross income from an unrelated business must file Form 990-T. An organization must pay estimated tax if it expects its tax for the year to be $500 or more.
So we’re not getting a look at how much FSO or CSI are bringing in through their normal church activities. But the interesting thing for us is the book value that they are asked to reveal. We haven’t seen these before, not since Scientology went tax exempt in 1993.
UPDATE: STATEMENT BY MIKE RINDER, FORMER SCIENTOLOGY SPOKESMAN
We asked Mike Rinder for a statement about these documents and what they reveal. He sent us this message…
I suspect the figures listed as “book value” are the lowest valuations of assets they think they can get away with. But these are fascinating documents despite not listing income (other than ‘unrelated business income’).
The accumulation of assets is a problem with respect to exemption. The underlying theory of granting exemption is that the organization provides a public benefit, and things that benefit the public should not be taxed. But if instead of benefiting anyone it is accumulated by the organization, it violates IRS guidelines. Certainly a lot of this is property — and that is trickier to prove. Miscavige and his numerous lawyers will claim that the property is for the public benefit, because without it the church cannot provide that public benefit consisting of training and auditing. This is of course a lie, as most of the buildings are palaces that sit empty and are way beyond what is needed to deliver the alleged public benefit. As I have said before, this is one of the main reasons for the “Ideal Org” program (and for purchasing absolutely superfluous properties like KCET when there is a massive studio at Gold). While those assets could be liquidated relatively easily (if they needed to be liquidated the inevitable losses would not be relevant as most of them were from “found money” obtained through heavy handed fundraising), they make it very difficult for the IRS to go after. In effect, for purposes of the church, buildings are a tax shelter. It is why you see the obsession with buildings.
But of course these forms provide only a glimpse of part of the picture. Of course there is no weekly income included. And there is no International Assocation of Scientologists (IAS).
Even if there was a 990 for IAS Administrations, the money they collect is deposited into accounts nominally controlled by a “trust” (US IAS Members Trust). That is screened from any public scrutiny.
Similarly, assets are held in accounts nominally controlled by CSRT (Church of Scientology Religious Trust). I do not know which buildings may be in their name. Super Power could be, even though it is the main FSO delivery building…. It is possible that CSI has to include CSRT assets on its 990 book value as it is really “wholly owned” by Church of Scientology International.
This is all deliberately made confusing and opaque as there are other trusts and entities established to shield liability and keep the total wealth obscured.
What is not confusing is that these figures do not include the IAS, the single biggest repository of liquid funds in the Scientology hierarchy, known to have well in excess of a billion dollars, probably in excess of two billion by now. These documents also don’t include any of the organizations outside the US, nor even a lot in the US, including C of S NY, Wsahington DC, SFO, etc.
This confirms what many have said: Scientology Inc. is an astonishingly wealthy organization. It also confirms that given its assets, Scientology spends virtually nothing on its much ballyhooed “social betterment” and “human rights” programs. With this sort of money they could be doing more for disaster relief than the Red Cross. They claim they are, but in truth they spend a few thousands dollars to make it possible to shoot videos. They could have provided food and shelter for every victim of the Philippines hurricane and not made a dent in their accumulated wealth. Instead they flew in four people in yellow t-shirts to do photo ops.
Jeff has done a great job getting this information and making it available. It is a window into the haunted house of Scientology.
Posted by Tony Ortega on April 7, 2014 at 23:25
E-mail your tips and story ideas to email@example.com or follow us on Twitter. We post behind-the-scenes updates at our Facebook author page. Here at the Bunker we try to have a post up every morning at 7 AM Eastern (Noon GMT), and on some days we post an afternoon story at around 2 PM. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.
Learn about Scientology with our numerous series with experts…
UP THE BRIDGE (Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43
SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING (Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts) 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46