The Scientology Church in Amsterdam should be treated in the same way as other church and faith-based organisations and allowed to claim tax breaks, the city’s appeal court ruled on Thursday.
The verdict overturns a lower court decision which said the tax office is right in the way it treats Scientology. The court case stemmed from a tax office refusal to grant Scientology ANBI status, which is applied to religious and spiritual organisations and allows them, for example, to benefit from gifts.
The tax office had argued Scientology does not qualify as an ANBI institution because it also charges members for its audit and training programmes. However, the appeal court ruled that other churches also charge for training, such as becoming a priest.
In addition, the appeal court said the Scientology movement’s training programmes are not the same as those offered by commercial companies because people who cannot afford them pay a reduced fee or get them free. In addition, the courses are aimed at spiritual and theoretical enlightenment.
This is not different to other religious institutions, the court said.