What is the significance of the IRS ruling regarding Churches of Scientology?
The battle with the Internal Revenue Service was finally and favorably resolved on October 1, 1993. On that day the IRS issued letters recognizing the Church of Scientology International and its related Churches and organizations—all 150 of them—as tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
This recognition marked the end of a forty-year conflict between the Church and the IRS. It followed a two-year examination of unprecedented scope and depth, encompassing all the Church of Scientology’s worldwide activities. It culminated with the issuance by the IRS of ruling letters recognizing the tax-exempt religious and charitable status of the Church of Scientology International, the mother church of the Scientology religion, and 150 affiliated Churches, missions and social betterment organizations.
The IRS rulings established that:
1. The Churches of Scientology and their related charitable and educational institutions are operated exclusively for recognized religious and charitable purposes.
2. The Churches of Scientology and their related charitable and educational institutions operate for the benefit of the public interest rather than the interests of private individuals.
3. No part of the net earnings of these Churches of Scientology and their related charitable and educational institutions inures to the benefit of any individual or noncharitable entity.
4. No part of the activities of the Churches of Scientology involve participation in any campaign for public office.
5. The purposes of these organizations do not violate fundamental public policy.
The IRS also determined that the Churches of Scientology qualify as a church under criteria which requires the existence of an established religious doctrine, religious literature and religious history, the qualification and ordination of ministers, and a religious community of believers.
The applications, supporting materials and IRS questions and correspondence for the 1993 exemption rulings are available for public inspection and have been available since the exemption rulings were issued on October 1, 1993. These documents occupy more than fourteen linear feet and in fact represent the largest administrative record of any exemption applicant.