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Happy Tax Day!

Here in the US, today is an important day — tax day. Personally, I’ve never really paid much attention to it since I never minded figuring out my taxes, even when I made the switch from always getting a refund to always paying. But this year, I’ve actually procrastinated until the very last day (I would have had them off last night if I owned a stapler. Dammit!) and I owe thousands of dollars. No, seriously, like $5,000. Which sucks.

Because of the extra stress this year, I’m even more inclined to rant about other people who don’t pay taxes. You know, like the Church of Scientology.

I know I’ve been ranting a lot about the Church of Scientology (CoS) lately, but I’m going to do it again anyway So sue me. (HA HA, not to be taken literally, Scientologists!)

Opponents of the CoS have long complained about the apparently for-profit business claiming to be a nonprofit enterprise. They pull in literally hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue through their “auditing” techniques. According to xenu.net, auditing classes can cost thousands of dollars, with the final amount to achieve the highest level hovering around $277,000 per person. As L. Ron Hubbard wrote in Ability in 1955,

Take it cash in advance. Guarantee nothing. Make sure you stress its spiritual slant and value. Steer clear of promising cures. AND DON’T rush them into auditing. They’ll beg for it soon enough.

Actually do this to be of service to man. Try to give it away. You’ll find you can’t. Don’t use this just because it’s a ‘preclear getter’, it’s a lot more than that. It will put you in financial condition and get your church going.

Check out this article from the New York Times, which asserts that the CoS engaged in a long, heated battle with the IRS to achieve their tax-exempt status back in 1993. Here’s just one point of many:

Scientology’s lawyers hired private investigators to dig into the private lives of IRS officials and to conduct surveillance operations to uncover potential vulnerabilities, according to interviews and documents. One investigator said he had interviewed tenants in buildings owned by three IRS officials, looking for housing code violations. He also said he had taken documents from an IRS conference and sent them to church officials and created a phony news bureau in Washington to gather information on church critics. The church also financed an organization of IRS whistle-blowers that attacked the agency publicly.

The CoS responded to defend against this criticism thusly:

Church officials and lawyers acknowledged that Scientology had used private investigators to look into their opponents, including IRS officials, but they said the practice had nothing to do with the IRS decision.

“This is a church organization that has been subjected to more harassment and more attacks certainly than any religion in this century and probably any religion ever, and they have had to perhaps take unusual steps in order to survive,” Ms. Yingling said.

(Emphasis is mine.) Let’s just take a moment to check some numbers:

    Number of Scientologists murdered by a government: 0 (in 54 years of existence)
    Number of Jews murdered by a government: 5 or 6 (million, 1939-1945)

Okay, glad to get that out of the way. Now go read the rest of the article for a fascinating account of a 25-year battle between the CoS and the IRS, which the CoS won. Big time.

Oh, and don’t forget to pay your taxes! Unless you’re a Xenu-fearing person.

Cross-posted at Skepchick.

5 comments to Happy Tax Day!

  • Unless you’re a Xenu-fearing person…. or Wesley Snipes.

  • Steve Page

    Can’t atheists get a tax-break, since we’re “not for prophet”?

    *cue tumbleweed*

  • Jim Shaver

    Steve:

    And crickets chirping…

    Rebecca:

    Here’s something else about which to think. Do you want to join a private club, one that has all manner of modern facilities, like gymnasiums, industrial kitchens, craft rooms, printing machines, and great meeting halls? Do you want to deduct your fees for this club from your income taxes? Do you want the club itself to pay no income taxes?

    You guessed it. Join a church. Hardly seems fair on a day like this, does it? (And I apologize if I’ve deepened your despair. Oh, well, I wrote two big checks to the gov’t, too.)

  • Jim Shaver

    Oh, one more thing, Rebecca:

    Here’s an interesting article, in case you may be considering arguments for not paying those taxes.

    The Straight Dope

  • MarshallDog

    I’ve considered switching to an always-paying mode- several of my much richer friends point out that always getting a refund means I’ve been giving the government an interest-free loan all year. I guess I could make money by putting that in a high-interest savings account and paying off my taxes at the end of the year, but I’m too afraid of screwing up my math and owing more than I saved at year’s end. If I were rich like my friends maybe I’d risk it and do it their way. I just don’t think I could handle that kind of pressure.

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the CoS lately, and before reading your post I wondered how the government decided what organizations qualified for tax-exempt status. It must have been easy at the beginning because there was a lack of skeptical thinking about a religion’s validity. In modern times I see it’s done the same way anything gets done in politics… by paying lawyers to throw around as much dirt as possible. That kinda dashes my hopes of seeing scientology lose it’s tax exempt status. Bummer.

    Oh well, at least I’m getting 600 bucks from the government to stimulate something… I’m not sure what.

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