Church of Scientology building in Montreal at risk of being seized by City

Church owes about $90,000 in back taxes, Radio-Canada report uncovers

CBC News/April 22, 2016

The Church of Scientology could have its Montreal building seized and sold by the city.

Radio-Canada has discovered that the Church owes about $90,000 in back taxes.

The church has owned the La Patrie building, which is a historic building on Ste-Catherine Street in downtown Montreal's Latin Quarter, since 2007.

The building, which was built in 1905 to house the newspaper La Patrie, is now abandoned. Church members had plans to renovate it, but no work has been carried out yet.

Last week, city officials sent the Church of Scientology a legal notice requesting it pay off debts from 2015 totalling $39,855. According to city spokesman,Gonzalo Nunez, if the amount is not paid off in the next few months, the building will be sold at auction in November.

The Church has paid $14,000 since receiving the notice.

According to municipal documents obtained by Radio-Canada, the Church of Scientology has not paid this year's property taxes either – $62,350 was due March 1.

That means that the Church owes just more than $88,000 to the City of Montreal.

In June, another bill of about $60,000 will be due.

Given that the building, evaluated at 3.4 million, is vacant, the organization cannot benefit from tax exemptions reserved for places of worship, such as churches and mosques.

This is not the first time the Church of Scientology has received a legal notice from the City of Montreal.

The same situation occurred in 2015, but the Church paid its back taxes at the end of the year thereby avoiding the sale of the building.

Radio-Canada contacted the Montreal Church of Scientology. Its spokesman, Jean Larivière, refused to comment.

Original story by Radio-Canada's Gaétan Pouliot

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