While the Church of Scientology describes itself as a religion and is recognized as such in countries like the United States, Spain and Australia, various governments have denied the organization charitable status for tax purposes, and some still regard the organization as a business.
The Church pays members 10% commissions, called FSM (Field Staff Member) commissions, on new recruits they bring in who take a course or get counseling. In addition, Church of Scientology franchises/missions, pay the Church roughly 10% of their gross income. Charges for auditing and other Church-related courses run to tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The Religious Technology Center maintains strict control over the use of Scientology symbols, icons, and names. It claims copyright and trademark over the "Scientology cross," and its lawyers have threatened lawsuits against individuals and organizations who have published these protected images without permission in books and on websites.
Because of this, it is very difficult for individual groups to attempt to publicly practice Scientology on their own, without any affiliation or connection to the "official" Church of Scientology. Scientology has sued a number of individuals who attempted to set up their own "auditing" practices, using copyright and trademark law to shut these competitors down.
The German government takes the view that Scientology is a commercial enterprise, and Belgium, France, United Kingdom, Ireland, Luxembourg, Israel and Mexico remain unconvinced that Scientology is a religion.
Courts of law have upon more than one occasion declared Scientology to be a business. One example involves the Founding Church of Scientology of Washington, D.C., which had obtained tax-exempt status in 1956 on the claim that it was "a corporation organized and operated exclusively for religious purposes, no part of the earnings of which inures to any individual". That status was revoked in 1958, on the grounds (as argued by the U.S. Department of Justice in subsequent proceedings) that the Church's "most extensive and significant activities are directed towards the earnings of substantial fees" and "the founder of the organisation [L. Ron Hubbard] remains in complete control and receives substantial remuneration and perquisites both from the taxpayer and a network of affiliates".
The findings of fact in the case included that Hubbard had personally received over $108,000 from the Church and affiliates over a four-year period, over and above the percentage of gross income (usually 10%) he received from Church-affiliated organizations. In addition, the Church had paid for Hubbard's car and for his personal residence, Mary Sue Hubbard had made over $10,000 renting property to the Church, and while the $3,242 paid to Hubbard's daughter Kay had been "generally designated as salary or wages", "the record is devoid of any evidence showing services performed by Miss Hubbard for [the Church]." The Court of Claims concluded "What emerges from these facts is the inference that the Hubbard family was entitled to make ready personal use of the corporate earnings."
In an interview on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation current affairs radio program The Current with Hana Gartner, former high-ranking Scientology official Mark Rathbun commented that the decision to convict the Church of Scientology of fraud in France would not have a significant impact on the organization. "On the France thing I don't think that's going to have any lasting impact, simply because they got a nine hundred thousand dollar fine I think - which is like chump change to them. They've got literally nearly a billion dollars set aside in a war chest," said Rathbun.
|Processing step||Intensives required (approximate)||Cost per intensive or course||Total cost (approximate)|
|Life Repair||2 × 12.5 hr||$5,600||$11,200|
|TRs & Objectives||2 × 12.5 hr||$5,600||$11,200|
|Drug Rundown||2 × 12.5 hr||$5,600||$11,200|
|ARC Straightwire||2 × 12.5 hr||$5,600||$11,200|
|Grade 0||3 × 12.5 hr||$5,600||$16,800|
|Grade 2||2 × 12.5 hr||$5,600||$11,200|
|Grade 3||2 × 12.5 hr||$5,600||$11,200|
|Grade 4||2 × 12.5 hr||$5,600||$11,200|
|New Era Dianetics||3 × 12.5 hr||$5,600||$16,800|
|Clear Certainty Rundown||1 × 5 hr||$2,800||$2,800|
|Total to Clear||$128,560|
|*Solo Course Part 1 -||$3,200||$3,200|
|*OT Preparations||2 × 12.5 hr||$3,300||$6,600|
|*Solo Course Part 2 -||$1,900||$1,900|
|*OT Eligibility||2 × 12.5 hr||$3,300||$6,600|
|OT IV||?2 × 12.5 hr||$6,500||$13,000|
|OT V||4 × 12.5 hr||$7,400||$29,600|
|OT VI set-ups||2 × 12.5 hr||$9,250||$18,500|
|Pledge Intensive||1 × 12.5 hr||$9,250||$9,250|
|OT VII C/Sing (per year) over 2 years||$3,200||$6,400|
|OT VIII auditing||?2 × 12.5 hr||$7,400||$14,800|
|Total to OT VIII||$277,010|
The above figures are discounted rates for members of the International Association of Scientologists (IAS).
The Flag Service Organization has its own auditing price schedule.
|“||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.
—L. Ron Hubbard, Ability, September 1955
According to the Church of Scientology, Field Auditors usually make a significant amount of their income from 15% FSM (Field Staff Member) Commissions. This is from referring their preclears to nearby (larger) Class V orgs or to the Sea Org orgs for advanced training and processing.
Here is an example: You send your preclear into a nearby org, and she buys an Academy Training package for $8,000. You receive a 15% commission on those services, which is payable when she arrives at the Org to do them, ($1,200.00).
If you were to send 20 preclears a year into the org for similar packages, you would have $24,000 in income just from selecting your public to train.
As well, Field Auditors charge for auditing services, which can also generate significant income:
You can make a very good living with as few as 3 paying preclears a week — though you will soon have many more. Just look at the chart below.
You audit two preclears for the IAS rate of $3,200* for a 12 1/2 hour intensive. You pay 10% to IHELP, which gives you 90%.
That’s $5,760 income for 1 week.
You audit three preclears for the IAS rate of $3,200* for a 12 1/2 hour intensive. You pay 10% to IHELP, which gives you 90%.
That’s $8,640 income for 1 week.
*a 12 1/2 hr intensive at a Class V Org costs $4,000. With a 20% IAS discount, it is $3,200.
Training courses in the Church of Scientology range from extension courses which cost US$35, to advanced courses in auditing and administration of Scientology organizations which cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. For example, the Organizational Executive Course and the Flag Executive Briefing Course are advanced administrative training courses, which cost US$32,000 and US$27,000, respectively .
- World Institute of Scientology Enterprises
- Hubbard College of Administration International
- Sterling Management Systems
- List of Scientology organizations
- Scientology as a state-recognized religion
- "What is Scientology?". http://www.scientology.org/en_US/religion/index.html. Retrieved 2008-01-15.
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- Finkelman, Paul (2006). Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties, CRC Press, ISBN 0415943426, p. 287: "Despite its legal setbacks, Scientology has achieved full legal recognition as a religious denomination in the United States."
- "Spanish court rules Scientology can be listed as a religion". November 1, 2007. http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5h-V0Ui506lPl-r8ImubpdUjFbuYA.
- High Court of Australia CHURCH OF THE NEW FAITH v. COMMISSIONER OF PAY-ROLL TAX (VICT.) 1983 154 CLR 120
- Behar, Richard (1991-05-06). "The Thriving Cult of Greed and Power". Time. http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,972865,00.html?internalid=ACA.
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- Cooper, Paulette Scandal of Scientology, Chapter 19, Tower Publications, NYC, 1971
- "Chilling Effects Clearinghouse Database". Chilling Effects Clearinghouse. http://www.chillingeffects.org/search.cgi?search=scientology. Retrieved 2007-09-01.
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- Understanding the German View of Scientology German Embassy, Washington, D.C.
- Sir John Foster, K.B.E., Q.C., M.P. (December 1971). Enquiry into the Practice and Effects of Scientology. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London. http://www.apologeticsindex.org/The%20Foster%20Report.pdf. Retrieved 2007-08-02.
- Enquiry into the Practice and Effects of Scientology, Report by Sir John Foster, K.B.E., Q.C., M.P., Published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London December 1971. Cited at http://www.cs.cmu.edu/~dst/Cowen/audit/fosthome.html .
- Behar, Richard (1986-10-27). "The prophet and profits of Scientology". Forbes 400 (Forbes). "Altogether, FORBES can total up at least $200 million gathered in Hubbard's name through 1982. There may well have been much more."
- Gartner, Hana (October 30, 2009). "Part Two: Scientology - Former Scientologist, Scientology - History". The Current (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation). http://www.cbc.ca/thecurrent/2009/200910/20091030.html. Retrieved 2009-11-04.
- Cost of Scientology Membership
- "Registration Donation Rates". American Saint Hill Organization, Church of Scientology. http://www.scientology-asho.org/registration_donationrates.htm. Retrieved 2006-08-06.
- Smith, L. Christopher (December 2008). "Scientology's Money Trail: Celebrities! Tax shelters! Bart Simpson! A glimpse into the finances of the secretive church". Condé Nast Portfolio (2008 Condé Nast Inc). http://www.portfolio.com/news-markets/national-news/portfolio/2008/11/19/Monetary-Value-of-Scientology. Retrieved 2008-11-19.