Dutch Scientology front group loses charity status

The Tax and Customs Administration (Belastingsdienst) of the Netherlands is taking steps against the Church of Scientology Amsterdam.

Local newspaper Het Parool reports that the Nabesa foundation, one of the cult’s front groups, has lost its status as a public benefit organization.

Earlier this year the paper reported that Scientologists were using loopholes to accept tax-deductable for a so-called ‘Ideal Org.’

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The Church of Scientology Amsterdam itself is not considered a charity or public benefit organization, and therefore donations made directly to the cult are not tax deductible.

Nevertheless, citing church documents it has seen, Het Parool said the Scientology Church Amsterdam sees the Netherlands as a tax paradise and is wildly enthusiastic about it.

In an internal letter the organization encouraged Scientologists to donate money not to the church directly, but rather to NaBeSa (an abbreviation for ‘To a Better Society), a foundation that had non-profit status.

The repeal of the so-called ANBI status will have major financial consequences for Scientology.

“In general I can say that this foundation did not meet the conditions of an ANBI,” said a spokesman for the Belastingdienst.

Nabesa was removed from the recognized charities list on July 19, and the decision is retroative to January 1, 2008 — the date the ANBI status came into force.

As a result the Church of Scientology Amsterdam, as well as a number of Scientologists, will receive additional assessments.

Questions in Netherlands House of Representatives over Scientology tax loopholes

Nabesa is not the only organization that collects money for Scientology, says Dutch newspaper Nederlands Dagblad, noting that ‘among others’ Narconon, and Weg naar het Geluk (the Dutch version of Scientology’s ironically-named Way to Happiness Foundation) have an ‘public benefit organization’ status.

Tax authorities refuse to divulge whether these foundations are also being investigated.

Scientology Amsterdam

Scientology’s Amsterdam base is currently housed in a rented building in the center of town. In 2010 the owners of the downtown building, real estate corporation Libra International, filed interim injunction procedures against the Church of Scientology for rent arrears in the amount of ‚¬78.000 ($103.000).

It was the second time that Libra had to resort to legal proceedings in order to get Scientology to pay.

In 2003 the Scientology’s Amsterdam base faced a mutiny in which ‘at least 50 of the 150 active core members’ left.

Even today passers-by usually do not notice much activity in the glass-fronted building.

In 2005 Scientology lost a long-running legal battle against freedom of speech in the Netherlands.

It is believed the organization has a few hundred ‘members’ in the Netherlands.

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Religion News Blog last updated this post on CET (Central European Time)