We asked Mike Rinder for a statement about these documents and what they reveal. He sent us this message…
I suspect the figures listed as “book value” are the lowest valuations of assets they think they can get away with. But these are fascinating documents despite not listing income (other than ‘unrelated business income’).
The accumulation of assets is a problem with respect to exemption. The underlying theory of granting exemption is that the organization provides a public benefit, and things that benefit the public should not be taxed. But if instead of benefiting anyone it is accumulated by the organization, it violates IRS guidelines. Certainly a lot of this is property — and that is trickier to prove. Miscavige and his numerous lawyers will claim that the property is for the public benefit, because without it the church cannot provide that public benefit consisting of training and auditing. This is of course a lie, as most of the buildings are palaces that sit empty and are way beyond what is needed to deliver the alleged public benefit. As I have said before, this is one of the main reasons for the “Ideal Org” program (and for purchasing absolutely superfluous properties like KCET when there is a massive studio at Gold). While those assets could be liquidated relatively easily (if they needed to be liquidated the inevitable losses would not be relevant as most of them were from “found money” obtained through heavy handed fundraising), they make it very difficult for the IRS to go after. In effect, for purposes of the church, buildings are a tax shelter. It is why you see the obsession with buildings.
But of course these forms provide only a glimpse of part of the picture. Of course there is no weekly income included. And there is no International Assocation of Scientologists (IAS).
Even if there was a 990 for IAS Administrations, the money they collect is deposited into accounts nominally controlled by a “trust” (US IAS Members Trust). That is screened from any public scrutiny.
Similarly, assets are held in accounts nominally controlled by CSRT (Church of Scientology Religious Trust). I do not know which buildings may be in their name. Super Power could be, even though it is the main FSO delivery building…. It is possible that CSI has to include CSRT assets on its 990 book value as it is really “wholly owned” by Church of Scientology International.
This is all deliberately made confusing and opaque as there are other trusts and entities established to shield liability and keep the total wealth obscured.
What is not confusing is that these figures do not include the IAS, the single biggest repository of liquid funds in the Scientology hierarchy, known to have well in excess of a billion dollars, probably in excess of two billion by now. These documents also don’t include any of the organizations outside the US, nor even a lot in the US, including C of S NY, Wsahington DC, SFO, etc.
This confirms what many have said: Scientology Inc. is an astonishingly wealthy organization. It also confirms that given its assets, Scientology spends virtually nothing on its much ballyhooed “social betterment” and “human rights” programs. With this sort of money they could be doing more for disaster relief than the Red Cross. They claim they are, but in truth they spend a few thousands dollars to make it possible to shoot videos. They could have provided food and shelter for every victim of the Philippines hurricane and not made a dent in their accumulated wealth. Instead they flew in four people in yellow t-shirts to do photo ops.
Jeff has done a great job getting this information and making it available. It is a window into the haunted house of Scientology.