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Scientologists file suit over tax exemption denial

Title: Scientologists file suit over tax exemption denial
Date: Friday, 8 June 1984
Publisher: St. Petersburg Times (Florida)
Author: Jack Reed
Main source:

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CLEARWATER — As it has for the past several years, the Church of Scientology has sued the Pinellas County property appraiser and tax collector because the organization was denied a tax-exempt status.

Property Appraiser Ron Schultz rejected the Scientology application for exemption of real and tangible property taxes for 1983, and the Property Appraisal Adjustment Board upheld his decision. The Church of Scientology, which filed two suits over those taxes last week, says it should not be made to pay taxes because it is a religious organization.

But Schultz said the Scientologists "provided no financial information whatsoever" to prove its case. "They have a responsibility to prove they are nonprofit."

In the past, the Church of Scientology has lost early rulings in its suits and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in back taxes rather than go to trial. A suit over 1982 property taxes is pending.

Paul Johnson, the Church of Scientology's attorney, said the two current cases will be taken to a trial. Johnson said he thinks his clients have provided Schultz with enough financial information to be granted the exemption. "That's one of the issues to be proven at trial," he said.