UK-based Church of Scientology Religious Education College Inc registered as charity in Adelaide
The Adelaide Advertiser
March 2, 2016
Investigates the Church of Scientology and the official-turned-whistleblower on the Church's alleged dark secrets.
BRITISH Scientologists collecting tens of millions of dollars are using an Adelaide address as the base for a registered Australian charity, although it spends its money in the United Kingdom.
SA allows the COSRECI to try to avoid a 21 per cent corporation tax in the UK.
The UK-based Church of Scientology Religious Education College Inc is based in Pulteney St.
Religious charities are eligible for a range of exemptions, but crucially being based in SA allows the COSRECI to try to avoid a 21 per cent corporation tax in the UK.
It is not clear how successful the college, which has been in SA since 1977, has been in avoiding tax.
According to financial statements lodged with the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission, it made £10,805,637 (about AUD $21 million) in 2014 and £12,535,163 (about $24 million) in 2013.
It lists its primary activity as “advancing religion” and its places of operation as South Australia and the UK.
Scientology was established by science-fiction author L. Ron Hubbard. Devotees believe humans play host to immortal spirits called thetans, which have past lives.
The independent auditor’s report confirms that the money is spent overseas.
“The trustees have confirmed to us that the financial activities of CSRECI comprise solely the financial activities of the UK branch and therefore on this basis this report effectively covers the whole of the financial activities of COSRECI,” they say.
They also declared about AUD $54 million in assets.
“COSRECI was incorporated in SA as a religious charity, and is established in England for charitable purposes only,” the statements note. “The trustees consider that corporation tax should not therefore be applicable.”
Possible future tax has been “provided for”, however.
The ACNC began in recent years to track charity dealings.
The Church of Scientology said accusations in 2010 that it was using Adelaide as a tax haven were “offensive”. That was after its UK returns were discovered to be using a Cowandilla address.
A spokeswoman at the time said at that point it was not a registered charity and benefited from no special concessions by being registered in SA.
The Advertiser asked the Church of Scientology to detail the benefits of having an Adelaide base, what the money was spent on, and the details of the church’s assets but was told the time difference with the UK meant they could not respond by deadline, despite having local representatives.
Late on Wednesday night, church public affairs representative Sei Kato responded, via email, by saying the questions “suggest that you are doing a story based entirely on misinformation and disinformation”.
The rest of the church response follows verbatim:
“The fact that Church of Scientology Religious Education College Inc is an Australian charity responsible for Churches of Scientology in England comes about for historical reasons. There are no financial benefits from the arrangement. In fact it costs more money, because of the need to do filings in both countries.
The ordinary activities of this Church body are providing religious services and working to create better conditions in society as part of our religious mission.
This church body owns a number of places of worship in England.
One of the places of worship in England received a loan from Church of Scientology Celebrity Center International a few years ago to help it provide its religious services.
This church body pays UK taxes, based entirely on UK laws. It gets no advantage from South Australian laws in this regard. It sounds like someone is mischievously trying to upset people in Australia by creating such lies.”
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