Daily Notifications
Sign up for free emails to receive the feature story every morning in your inbox at


Would you buy a used car from this man? Scientology and refunds — a primer


We always enjoy Jeffrey Augustine’s explorations of Scientology’s own internal rules and documents in order to explain how it really works. In this case, he exposes how Scientology is violating the promises it made the IRS regarding refund requests by its members. And if that’s the case, it should put Scientology’s tax exempt status into question. The best part? Former members who have been locked out of refunds may be in the best position to get the IRS to act. We’ll let Jeff explain…

In its third series of responses to the IRS in support of its application for tax exemption, the Church of Scientology complained in 1992 that it was misunderstood and not being treated fairly. In the paragraph below, the Church says that giving refunds, for example, may appear to seem “commercial,” but they are an important part of getting feedback from members…


The church went on to explain that this vital source of feedback was divided into two types — “refunds” made to those unhappy with a service, and “repayments” for those who had banked money for future courses but then changed their minds…



Scientology made it sound so simple: The “unhappy few” would be given refunds or repayments and would be permanently expelled from the Church so that the “very happy” could continue on in Scientology without being enturbulated by the unhappy few.

The Church has always solicited and encouraged its members to make advanced payments for future services. The Church pitches this as a way for its members to “open a flow” and make payments for its super-expensive services. These advanced payments are called “money on account.” However, the term “money on account” is so extraordinarily misleading as to be esentially meaningless. The moment any Scientologist puts “money on account” that money is treated as a donation and becomes Church property.

A Scientologist might, for example, over a period of time pay $100,000 toward an expensive process like the “L Rundowns.” But over that time, the person might have read negative things about Scientology on the Internet and may have a change of heart, and asks for that $100,000 back as a repayment.

Scientology told the IRS that in such a case, it has an internal refund process in place. One of the first things that happens is that it puts the money in question in a special place, the Claims Verification Board (CVB)…


In order to get that repayment from the CVB, you would first need to fill out a CVB routing form, which is fairly daunting in its complexity and number of steps, including personal meetings with various church officials to get their signature on the form. Each of them, we hear from people who have been through it, will do their best to talk you out of continuing with the quest.

Some of those officials will insist that you get sec checking (Scientology interrogations) or other auditing procedures in order to “handle” the upset that has caused the request for a refund to begin with. Those cycles can easily eat up $25,000 to $50,000 of the “money on account.”

And what happens to those who ask for repayment if they’ve been “declared” a “Suppressive Person?” Once a Scientologist has been declared an SP, they are not allowed to step foot onto Church premises to complete the CVB routing form.

In recent years, Scientology has spelled out this Catch-22 in the letters it sends out. We’ve seen numerous examples, like the following, where it’s spelled out pretty clearly — in order to get a refund, you need to fill out a CVB form, but since you’re an “SP,” you can’t come into an org and get one…


Now, consider how Scientology handles refunds in light of something founder L. Ron Hubbard said…

“First consider a group which takes in money but does not deliver anything in exchange. This is called rip-off. It is the ‘exchange’ condition of robbers, tax men, governments and other criminal elements.” – L. Ron Hubbard, HCO PL 10 Sep 82 – Exchange, Org Income and Staff Pay.

Hubbard could not have described Scientology’s refund process better if he’d tried.

And not only is Scientology taking in money with no intention of delivering anything if someone asks for a refund, it lied to the IRS in 1992 and said that its refund process was “exceedingly fair.”

In the leaked Final Closing Agreement between the IRS and the Church of Scientology, the IRS stated that the Church’s tax exemption could be re-examined in the event of “fraud, malfeasance, or misrepresentation of material fact.”

If you’re asking for a refund or repayment from Scientology and you’re running into this Catch-22, according to the rules of the IRS, the agency wants to hear from you. (We previously explained how to file a personal complaint with the IRS over Scientology’s actions.)

Finally, one important fact to know: Scientology leader David Miscavige’s attorney Monique Yingling is a Church of Spiritual Technology (CST) Special Director. As a CST Special Director, Yingling’s “prime directive” as a tax attorney is to ensure that the Church of Scientology International (CSI) does not act in any way whatsoever to risk its tax exemption.

Arguably the chief architect of Scientology’s tax exemption, Yingling wrote, or caused to be written, most of the application to the IRS in support of the Church’s bid for tax exemption. Yingling knows there is a contradiction between what the Church represented to the IRS in 1992 and what it is now practicing.

Therefore, Scientologists seeking repayments would do well to write to Monique Yingling in her capacity as a CST Special Director to express your concerns that CSI is risking its tax exemption by refusing repayments. David Miscavige should be copied as well as he licenses Scientology’s technology to CSI. The addresses:

Church of Spiritual Technology
Attn: Special Director Monique Yingling
419 Larchmont, No. 162
Los Angeles, CA 90004

Religious Technology Center International
Attn: COB RTC David Miscavige
1710 Ivar Avenuem Suite 1100
Los Angeles, CA 90028

— Jeffrey Augustine


Bonus photos from our tipsters

Saint Hill goes Ideal, and David Miscavige is there to celebrate a new coat of paint.




We didn’t get a chance to include photos in our book, so we’ve posted them at a dedicated page. Reader Sookie put together a complete index and we’re hosting it here on the website. Copies of the paperback version of ‘The Unbreakable Miss Lovely’ are on sale at Amazon. The Kindle edition is also available, and shipping instantly.

Tony Ortega’s upcoming appearances (and check out the interactive map to our ongoing tour)…

Oct 23: Sydney, Giant Dwarf Theatre (with Steve Cannane and Bryan Seymour)

Oct 25: Melbourne, The Wheeler Centre, 3 pm, free but reservations recommended (with Steve Cannane and Bryan Seymour)

Oct 28: Adelaide, Wheatsheaf Hotel, (with Sen. Nick Xenophon and Bryan Seymour)

Oct 30: Perth, Collins Street Centre, Collins St and Shaftesbury St, South Perth, 7 pm (with Bryan Seymour)

Past dates: Santa Barbara (5/16), Hollywood (5/17), Orange County (5/17), San Diego (5/20), San Francisco (5/22), New York (6/11), Chicago (6/20), Toronto (6/22), Clearwater (6/28), Washington DC (7/12), Hartford (7/14), Denver (7/17), Dallas (7/20), Houston (7/22), San Antonio (7/24), Austin (7/25), Paris (7/29), London (8/4), Boston (8/24), Phoenix (9/15), Cleveland (9/23), Minneapolis (9/24), Portland (9/27), Seattle (9/28), Vancouver BC (9/29)


Posted by Tony Ortega on October 19, 2015 at 07:00

E-mail your tips and story ideas to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT 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…

BLOGGING DIANETICS: We read Scientology’s founding text cover to cover with the help of LA attorney and former church member Vance Woodward

UP THE BRIDGE: Claire Headley and Bruce Hines train us as Scientologists

GETTING OUR ETHICS IN: Jefferson Hawkins explains Scientology’s system of justice

SCIENTOLOGY MYTHBUSTING: Historian Jon Atack discusses key Scientology concepts

PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | Scientology’s Private Dancer
The mystery of the richest Scientologist and his wayward sons | Scientology’s shocking mistreatment of the mentally ill
The Underground Bunker’s Official Theme Song | The Underground Bunker FAQ

Our Guide to Alex Gibney’s film ‘Going Clear,’ and our pages about its principal figures…
Jason Beghe | Tom DeVocht | Sara Goldberg | Paul Haggis | Mark “Marty” Rathbun | Mike Rinder | Spanky Taylor | Hana Whitfield


Share Button
Print Friendly, PDF & Email