The Dutch tax authorities have closed a loophole in the law which allowed Scientology church members to get back tax on money they donated towards the building of a new headquarters in Amsterdam.
Donors to the church, which currently rents a building in the capital, will now have to pay tax on any such gifts, reports the Parool. It is even possible the new law will be back-dated, says the paper, with donors being sent tax demands for earlier gifts.
Organisations wanting tax deductible status have to fulfill certain criteria and be registered as deductible gift recipients (DGRs). The church does not have this status but set up a special sister organisation under the name To a better society (Nabesa) which does have DGR status. Gifts to the church were channelled through Nabesa.
Channelling donations through a subsidiary is no longer lawful and the tax authorities have also removed Nabesa's DGR status, says the Parool.
'We are a religious organisation and have been honest about our actions: collecting money for a new building,' a Scientology spokesman told the paper. 'Why can other churches do this and not us?'