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Scientology in England faces huge tax bills on its properties, and keeps failing to evade them

[The staff at the swingin’ London Ideal Org]

In a recent blog post, Mike Rinder reports Scientology’s failure to obtain tax exemption for three of its buildings in England. On this side of the pond, an annual tax is paid on the ratable value of a building – whether domestic or commercial.

Scientology applied for this property tax not to be levied on the grounds that these buildings are used for public worship. The Valuation Tribunal for England turned down the original application and has now rejected an appeal against that decision.

Every property in England has a ratable value which is set every five years. Rates go to pay for local government – police, schools, roads, refuse collection and other council expenses. A percentage of the ratable value is levied every year. For larger businesses – like Scientology – the 2021 rate is set at 52.2 percent of the ratable value.

The London Church of Scientology at 146 Queen Victoria Street has a ratable value of £810,000, so Scientology will have to pay about £421,000 for last year. The Dianetic and Scientology Life Improvement Centre (no, really, that is what they call it) at 68 Tottenham Court Road, London, has a ratable value of £112,000, so will have to pay about £58,000. Finally, Scientology’s Manchester building at Deansgate has a ratable value of £51,500, so will have to pay about £27,000. This amounts to about half a million pounds, or almost $700,000 – enough to pay a billion years of wages to a Sea Org member.

As Scientology has been arguing this case since March of 2015, they will probably have to find a few million pounds to make good their debt. Tony asked me to clarify the situation regarding the petitioner in this case – the Church of Scientology Religious Education College Incorporated (COSRECI). Why are the UK outposts of Scientology registered in South Australia?

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From the outset, Ron Hubbard scattered corporations like confetti at a wedding. In 1950, there were five Hubbard Dianetic Research Foundations – all of which went bankrupt because Hubbard had his hands in their tills. These would be followed by the Hubbard Dianetic Foundation, the Hubbard College, and the Hubbard Association of Scientologists – which only takes us up to 1953.

Although his Navy service fell short of any act of heroism (or indeed combat), Hubbard learned that ships and submarines have water-tight compartments, so that flooding in one compartment does not lead to flooding in any other. Similarly, he learned not to put all his eggs in one basket. COSRECI was one of the many baskets through which money could be funneled into his Swiss bank account.

With the “corporate sort-out” of the early 1980s, Scientology split into hundreds of compartments, but retained the Australian COSRECI for use in the UK. In reality (as I argued successfully in several US cases from 1988 onward), Scientology is a “monolithic corporation”, controlled by a single individual. That individual is David Miscavige, who, it is alleged, retains signed undated resignations for every director in those many corporations.

Scientology was unable to gain tax exemption in the US during Hubbard’s lifetime, because while the Sea Org lived in abject poverty, money ‘inured’ to Ron Hubbard. The $648 million in his will was all taken from Scientology – and therefore from Scientologists (promotional costs for his fiction were greater than the profits). At the International Base, staff were denied toilet paper, but Hubbard had a property with a racetrack, a 24-track recording studio and owned 2000 camera pieces (and Hasselblads are not cheap). While Sea Org members often had to scrub a single set of clothes month after month, Hubbard’s handmade shirts were flown out from Savile Row in London. David Miscavige has continued this tradition of inurement, spending thousands on Egyptian cotton shirts, Italian leather shoes, expensive cars and fine imported liquor.

COSRECI was established in South Australia in 1977, probably because Scientology had achieved religious status there, making it more likely that an application for charitable tax exemption would be possible.

The Australian ruling granted religious status, “Regardless of whether the members of the applicant [the Church of Scientology] are gullible or misled or whether the practices of Scientology are harmful or objectionable.”

Scientology repeatedly tried to wriggle out of taxes in England, including property rates. In the 1960s, England’s most celebrated judge, Lord Denning, determined that Scientology was not a religion, because it had no act of worship, and denied exemption. Subsequently, Buddhism overcame that hurdle – by achieving religious status with no act of worship – and exemption was denied to Scientology on the grounds that it did not hold religious services. This is why exemption was denied by the Valuation Tribunal.

The situation was similar to that at Saint Hill during the 1970s. I was told that although there was a service every Sunday, no one but the “minister” ever attended (and to become a “minister” required only a one-week course). I was told that the service had to take place because of the application for tax exemption. In my nine years in Scientology, the only service I attended was to confirm the marriage of two Birmingham staff members.

Scientology continues to apply for charitable tax-exemption over here, but as yet has made no progress. The exception is Narconon, which has enjoyed tax exemption for many years, despite many reports of its activities to the Charity Commissioners.

 

 
I’ve had the pleasure of Mike Rinder’s company several times on my YouTube channel – jon atack, family and friends. Even after more than four decades of involvement, I was shocked by the account Mike gives of his arrival at the Flagship Apollo.

Although most of my time is taken up providing preventative material so that people won’t be seduced into abusive relationships or authoritarian cults, I still spend a fair amount of time talking about Scientology on the channel and on other people’s broadcasts (most recently Andrew Gold’s On the Edge podcast). I urge anyone who is interested in Scientology to read the unexpurgated and expanded edition of Let’s Sell These People a Piece of Blue Sky. Please don’t read the free Internet versions – they are expurgated and make no contribution for the six years I spent researching the book (or the 16 years of harassment I incurred). There are many excellent (and shocking) first person accounts of involvement with Scientology, and several subject or period specific books – including the proprietor’s fine books – but Blue Sky remains the only overview history of Scientology.

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My papers have been freely available on the Internet since they were written. These include Hubbard and the Occult, Never Believe a Hypnotist (Hubbard’s own advice), Possible Origins for Dianetics and Scientology, Scientology: the Church of Hate: An Anti-Social Religion Emerges in the Space Age and Scientology: Religion or Intelligence Agency. My short account for the Never-Ins is Scientology: The Cult of Greed, which is available in print or as an ebook. My advice to former members on the implanting system that is Scientology can be found right here at the Underground Bunker.

Most recently, I’ve published the latest iteration of Opening Our Minds, which frequently employs Scientology to exemplify the methods of coercive control and psychological enslavement which are rife in our world. I strongly believe that an ounce of prevention is worth far more than a ton of cure, and appreciate any help in promoting this work.

Hopefully, other government tax bodies will take note of this failure on Scientology’s part and review their own exemptions. Scientology is a system of psychological enslavement. It deserves investigation not tax exemption!

— Jon Atack

 
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Bonus items from our tipsters

A billion years. Is that so much to ask?

 

 
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Source Code

“Apparently transfers from the Galley without apprenticeship or replacement and Quadruple hatting the food purchaser so he simply used the food chandler ashore are some of the obvious whys back of the sudden recent drop in food quality. The WHYs being advertised are the wrong whys — low allocation is a wrong why. The food isn’t kept to allocation and has become VERY expensive for very low quality due to using a chandler. This would not remedy the increased allocation as the allocation is already not followed. Advertising this as the why or remedying it will not restore food quality.” — L. Ron Hubbard, August 12, 1971

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Avast, Ye Mateys

“SURVEY: A great job was done in the E/R, by D/Capt, Ship’s Rep and 1st Mate and others in passing the survey. Possibly we even get our Lloyd’s Yacht Class. We are a yacht by registry. A Lloyds yacht class is different and useful. But true enough, in dismantling working installations for survey and reassembly, when we tried to start up one engine just wouldn’t start. A valve had been reversed! And an injector bleed valve was leaking. Two tugs were on hand as a precaution. Our E/R guys put it right quickly. Must have been an awful shock to push the starting lever and have nothing happen. That’s how it goes when working installations get dismantled!” — The Commodore, August 12, 1970

 
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Overheard in the FreeZone

“I’m sure you have heard that Earth is a prison planet, and I feel that this is true since, in 40-odd years of spiritual counseling, I have never encountered a rebuttal to that story. Instead, I keep running into spirits who have been sent here as expatriated criminals from other civilizations. Most of these spirits seem to have been implanted and so reduced in awareness and capability that they are no longer capable of running a body. Instead, they seem to flock around beings who are running bodies and act as observers and occasionally as spirit guides or guardian angels. Those of you who are reading this article are among the fortunate few who still retain enough personality to run a body and behave as a human being while accompanied through life by a horde of discarnate spirits.”

 
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Past is Prologue

1997: The St. Petersburg Times reported this week that Scientology has launched a media campaign blitz larger than any other in their history. “The 18-month campaign is being sold to existing Scientologists as a turning point that could increase membership and bring the controversial church within reach of its ideal: a ‘cleared planet,’ where Scientology’s goals prevail. Skeptics of the campaign say it is more likely an effort by Scientology to counteract some recent bad publicity. While church officials would not disclose the cost of the campaign, they do reveal in a brochure that individual Scientologists are being asked to help finance it with donations ranging from $600 to $100,000. The church has mailed thousands of books profiling Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard to ‘people from all cross sections’ in Pinellas, said Brian Anderson, a church spokesman in Clearwater, where Scientology has its spiritual ‘mecca’ and is a major presence downtown. Also, a group of Clearwater Scientologists is working door-to-door to distribute a booklet containing Hubbard’s moral code, The Way to Happiness. Organizers have delivered about 45,000 copies so far and hope to get it into 126,000 households in Clearwater, Largo and Dunedin.”

 
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Random Howdy

“Refusal to accept one’s own mortality and a belief by humans that they are something more than just another species of animal is what drives this insanity.”

 
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Full Court Press: What we’re watching at the Underground Bunker

Criminal prosecutions:
Danny Masterson charged for raping three women: Next hearing set for November 10. Trial tentatively scheduled for February.
Jay and Jeff Spina, Medicare fraud: Jay sentenced to 9 years in prison. Jeff’s sentencing to be scheduled.
Hanan and Rizza Islam and other family members, Medi-Cal fraud: Pretrial conference August 21 in Los Angeles
David Gentile, GPB Capital, fraud: Next pretrial conference set for Sept 9.

Civil litigation:
Luis and Rocio Garcia v. Scientology: Oral arguments were heard on July 30, 2020 at the Eleventh Circuit
Valerie Haney v. Scientology: Forced to ‘religious arbitration.’ Petition to US Supreme Court submitted on May 26. Scientology responded on June 25.
Chrissie Bixler et al. v. Scientology and Danny Masterson: California Supreme Court granted review on May 26 and asked the Second Appellate Division to direct Judge Steven Kleifield to show cause why he granted Scientology’s motion for arbitration. Oral arguments scheduled for Oct 5.
Matt and Kathy Feschbach tax debt: Eleventh Circuit ruled on Sept 9 that Feshbachs can’t discharge IRS debt in bankruptcy. Dec 17: Feshbachs sign court judgment obliging them to pay entire $3.674 million tax debt, plus interest from Nov 19.
Brian Statler Sr v. City of Inglewood: Third amended complaint filed, trial set for Nov 9, 2021.
Author Steve Cannane defamation trial: Trial concluded, Cannane victorious, awarded court costs. Case appealed on Dec 23. Appeal hearing scheduled for Aug 23-27.

Concluded litigation:
Dennis Nobbe, Medicare fraud, PPP loan fraud: Charged July 29. Bond revoked Sep 14. Nobbe dead, Sep 14.
Jane Doe v. Scientology (in Miami): Jane Doe dismissed the lawsuit on May 15 after the Clearwater Police dropped their criminal investigation of her allegations.

 
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THE PROSECUTION OF DANNY MASTERSON

We first broke the news of the LAPD’s investigation of Scientology celebrity Danny Masterson on rape allegations in 2017, and we’ve been covering the story every step of the way since then. At this page we’ve collected our most important links, including our four days in Los Angeles covering the preliminary hearing and its ruling, which has Danny facing trial and the potential sentence of 45 years to life in prison.

SCIENTOLOGY: FAIR GAME

After the success of their double-Emmy-winning, three-season A&E series ‘Scientology and the Aftermath,’ Leah Remini and Mike Rinder continue the conversation on their podcast, ‘Scientology: Fair Game.’ We’ve created a landing page where you can hear all of the episodes so far.

LEAH REMINI: SCIENTOLOGY AND THE AFTERMATH

An episode-by-episode guide to Leah Remini’s three-season, double-Emmy winning series that changed everything for Scientology watching. Originally aired from 2016 to 2019 on the A&E network, and now on Netflix.

SCIENTOLOGY’S CELEBRITIES, from A to Z

Find your favorite Hubbardite celeb at this index page — or suggest someone to add to the list!

 
Other links: SCIENTOLOGY BLACK OPS: Tom Cruise and dirty tricks. Scientology’s Ideal Orgs, from one end of the planet to the other. Scientology’s sneaky front groups, spreading the good news about L. Ron Hubbard while pretending to benefit society. Scientology Lit: Books reviewed or excerpted in a weekly series. How many have you read?

 
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THE WHOLE TRACK

[ONE year ago] Valerie Haney’s suit against Scientology back to square one after court setback
[TWO years ago] My brother, the Scientologist: Trying to bridge the gap when Hubbardism is in the way
[THREE years ago] If Scientology is hurting, have its ‘expansion’ plans slowed down? Here’s our assessment
[FOUR years ago] Garcia case update: Has Judge Whittemore managed to fill a Scientology arbitrating panel?
[FIVE years ago] Former workers file EEOC complaints saying Grant Cardone forced Scientology on them
[SIX years ago] Scenes from the increasingly desperate straits Scientology finds itself in
[SEVEN years ago] Mark Bunker: Clearwater is being pressured to knuckle under to Scientology (again)
[EIGHT years ago] THIS IS THE SOUND OF SCIENTOLOGY’S FORCED DISCONNECTION
[NINE years ago] Scientology Sunday Funnies: Bowl With The Valley Girls!
[TEN years ago] Scientology Sees Fundraising Gold in the UK Riots: ‘We Have a Strategy’

 
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Scientology disconnection, a reminder

Bernie Headley (1952-2019) did not see his daughter Stephanie in his final 5,667 days.
Valerie Haney has not seen her mother Lynne in 2,390 days.
Katrina Reyes has not seen her mother Yelena in 2,895 days
Sylvia Wagner DeWall has not seen her brother Randy in 2,415 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his grandson Leo in 1,435 days.
Geoff Levin has not seen his son Collin and daughter Savannah in 1,326 days.
Christie Collbran has not seen her mother Liz King in 4,633 days.
Clarissa Adams has not seen her parents Walter and Irmin Huber in 2,501 days.
Carol Nyburg has not seen her daughter Nancy in 3,275 days.
Doug Kramer has not seen his parents Linda and Norm in 1,605 days.
Jamie Sorrentini Lugli has not seen her father Irving in 4,079 days.
Quailynn McDaniel has not seen her brother Sean in 3,395 days.
Dylan Gill has not seen his father Russell in 11,961 days.
Melissa Paris has not seen her father Jean-Francois in 7,880 days.
Valeska Paris has not seen her brother Raphael in 4,048 days.
Mirriam Francis has not seen her brother Ben in 3,629 days.
Claudio and Renata Lugli have not seen their son Flavio in 3,890 days.
Sara Goldberg has not seen her daughter Ashley in 2,928 days.
Lori Hodgson has not seen her son Jeremy and daughter Jessica in 2,641 days.
Marie Bilheimer has not seen her mother June in 2,166 days.
Julian Wain has not seen his brother Joseph or mother Susan in 521 days.
Charley Updegrove has not seen his son Toby in 1,696 days.
Joe Reaiche has not seen his daughter Alanna Masterson in 6,247 days
Derek Bloch has not seen his father Darren in 3,396 days.
Cindy Plahuta has not seen her daughter Kara in 3,716 days.
Roger Weller has not seen his daughter Alyssa in 8,571 days.
Claire Headley has not seen her mother Gen in 3,690 days.
Ramana Dienes-Browning has not seen her mother Jancis in 2,046 days.
Mike Rinder has not seen his son Benjamin and daughter Taryn in 6,349 days.
Brian Sheen has not seen his daughter Spring in 2,455 days.
Skip Young has not seen his daughters Megan and Alexis in 2,853 days.
Mary Kahn has not seen her son Sammy in 2,729 days.
Lois Reisdorf has not seen her son Craig in 2,312 days.
Phil and Willie Jones have not seen their son Mike and daughter Emily in 2,807 days.
Mary Jane Barry has not seen her daughter Samantha in 3,061 days.
Kate Bornstein has not seen her daughter Jessica in 14,170 days.

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Posted by Tony Ortega on August 12, 2021 at 07:00

E-mail tips to tonyo94 AT gmail DOT com or follow us on Twitter. We also post updates at our Facebook author page. After every new story we send out an alert to our e-mail list and our FB page.

Our new book with Paulette Cooper, Battlefield Scientology: Exposing L. Ron Hubbard’s dangerous ‘religion’ is now on sale at Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats. Our book about Paulette, The Unbreakable Miss Lovely: How the Church of Scientology tried to destroy Paulette Cooper, is on sale at Amazon in paperback, Kindle, and audiobook versions. We’ve posted photographs of Paulette and scenes from her life at a separate location. Reader Sookie put together a complete index. More information can also be found at the book’s dedicated page.

The Best of the Underground Bunker, 1995-2020 Just starting out here? We’ve picked out the most important stories we’ve covered here at the Underground Bunker (2012-2020), The Village Voice (2008-2012), New Times Los Angeles (1999-2002) and the Phoenix New Times (1995-1999)

Other links: BLOGGING DIANETICS: Reading Scientology’s founding text cover to cover | 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 | Shelly Miscavige, 15 years gone | The Lisa McPherson story told in real time | The Cathriona White stories | The Leah Remini ‘Knowledge Reports’ | Hear audio of a Scientology excommunication | Scientology’s little day care of horrors | Whatever happened to Steve Fishman? | Felony charges for Scientology’s drug rehab scam | Why Scientology digs bomb-proof vaults in the desert | PZ Myers reads L. Ron Hubbard’s “A History of Man” | Scientology’s Master Spies | 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

Watch our short videos that explain Scientology’s controversies in three minutes or less…

Check your whale level at our dedicated page for status updates, or join us at the Underground Bunker’s Facebook discussion group for more frivolity.

Our non-Scientology stories: Robert Burnham Jr., the man who inscribed the universe | Notorious alt-right inspiration Kevin MacDonald and his theories about Jewish DNA | The selling of the “Phoenix Lights” | Astronomer Harlow Shapley‘s FBI file | Sex, spies, and local TV news | Battling Babe-Hounds: Ross Jeffries v. R. Don Steele

 

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