HRWF (08.09.2022) – On 30 August 2022, after years of financial investigation, the Church of Scientology was granted the status of Public Benefit entity. It means that from now on its activities must be tax exempted like any other religion or belief system. This includes not only their social activities but also their spiritual counselling and their religious classes.
In 2013, the Amsterdam Court of Appeal recognized the Church of Scientology as a religious or belief community but the Dutch state authorities in charge of tax exemption for such legal entities challenged the implementation of this decision by its services. They did not apply the tax exemption the Church of Scientology was claiming to benefit from, having questions about the activities of the Church and its finances.
This led to an extensive review of all finances and financial flows of the Church of Scientology in the Netherlands, as well as a complete review of all its activities by the authorities. The investigation lasted nine years: lots of documents were requested and thoroughly checked, and there were a few onsite inspections in the Church itself.
Such proceedings usually take a lot of time with new religious movements applying for tax exemption after state recognition in many countries.
The Dutch state has the reputation of being a liberal country. In August last, it appointed a special envoy for FoRB attached to its Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It is also part of the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance, a network of like-minded countries fully committed to advancing FoRB around the world.
In Spain, a court in Madrid (Audiencia National) ruled in 2007 that the Church of Scientology was a religious or belief community but the state only recognized in 2015 that promoting the teachings and practices of Scientology is of public benefit.
In 2013 it was the UK Supreme Court that recognized the UK Church of Scientology as a genuine religion and granted it the right to perform official marriages.
In the last few years, the Church of Scientology in Mexico, Colombia, and North Macedonia. These recent recognitions add to the numerous dozens of recognitions that the Church has obtained since its inception in the 1950s.
The full list of state recognitions is available here.
Photo: The European Times News