Despite receiving religious recognition and IRS tax exemption in the US, the Church of Scientology was denied charity status by the UK Charities Commission in 1999. This means Scientology’s UK operations are taxable by HM Revenue & Customs and the organisation is liable to pay Corporation Tax on its profits.
According to the government website Gov.uk, Corporation Tax is due on trading profits, investments and profits made on selling assets. It states “If your company isn’t based in the UK but has an office or branch here, it only pays Corporation Tax on profits from its UK activities.”
Scientology operates in the UK under an entity known as the Church of Scientology Religious Education College, Incorporated (COSRECI), which is registered with Companies House as an overseas entity. COSRECI is a charity registered with the Australian Charities and Not-For-Profits Commission and according to their filings there, operates exclusively in the United Kingdom.
COSRECI’s registered address is the location of a small Scientology building at 225 Pulteney St, Adelaide, SA, 5000, Australia, but it’s primary place of business is listed as Saint Hill Manor, Scientology’s UK headquarters in East Grinstead, Sussex.
Despite operating through a registered Australian Charity, COSRECI operate solely in the United Kingdom and as such under UK tax law, they are required to pay taxes on their profits. Charities in the UK are required to evidence a public benefit in order to receive tax exemption, which Scientology were unable to do when they applied to the Charity Commission in 1999.
The commission concluded that the organisation was not established for charitable purposes or for public benefit and so could not be registered as a charity. You can read the full report of the Charity Commission’s 1999 rejection below: