Scientology 'offended' by tax evasion accusation

The Advertiser, Australia/June 22, 2010

The Church of Scientology says allegations it is using Adelaide as an off-shore base for its international operations to avoid paying tax are "offensive".

An investigation by Channel 7's TodayTonight reporter Bryan Seymour alleged to have uncovered a ploy used by Scientology to dodge tax obligations in the United Kingdom and eight European countries.

Mr Seymour said he had details of how the Church of Scientology Religious Education College Inc registered those operations in South Australia, to a Cowandilla address, to avoid paying corporate tax under Britain's foreign company law.

He said documents filed with British authorities state COSRECI, which is an incorporated non-profit association, is registered in the UK as a South Australian charity and this has been confirmed by the Attorney-General's Department in SA.

No financial returns have been filed in SA, but unaudited returns are filed in the UK with the Cowandilla house still used as the registered address, he said. Given the return are unaudited, they did not provide any comprehensive information as to any incoming or outgoing funding.

"The only thing we do know for a fact is that they claim they are a South Australian charity," Mr Seymour said.

"SA has the most liberal laws regarding compliance in setting up and running an association".

Investigations have been launched by the Office for Consumer and Business Affairs as well as the Attorney-Generals Department and with UK authorities.

Church of Scientology spokeswoman Vicki Dunstan from the Office of Special Affairs yesterday told The Advertiser the Cowandilla property was the former postal address of teh Public Officer for the association.

"It is, of course, not the headquarters, but is merely to receive mail and clearly an error as the Public Officer moved from this address. I understand this point has been rectified since," she said.

"It is not a registered charity in South Australia or with the Australian Taxation tax benefits have ever been received by COSRECI as a result of teh fact it is registered in South Australia...there is no so-called "tax haven" and COSRECI is subject toi the UK laws with no special concessions by reason of it having been registeerd in South Australia".

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