Sklars Lose Case Involving Scientology Tax Exemptions

488px-scientology_symbolsvg125px-star_of_davidsvgThe Sklar litigation relating to the Church of Scientology was delivered another blow by the Ninth Circuit. Marla and Michael Sklar have been waging a rather lonely battle for 15 years to claim tax deductions for a portion of the tuition they pay to Jewish schools attended by their children. They are relying on the fact that the Internal Revenue Service granted Scientologists deductions for 80% of fees they pay for auditing and training. The IRS decision was viewed as the government knuckling under after litigation from Scientology and has raised legitimate concerns over equal treatment.

The panel (in an opinion written by Judge Kim Wardlaw) held: “We… conclude that tuition and fee payments to schools that provide secular and religious education as part of one curriculum are quite different from payments to organizations that provide exclusively religious services.”

Wardlaw’s does not fully explain why Scientologists receive such a huge deduction but Jews cannot receive deduction for such things as after-school classes in Jewish Oral Law, or Mishna.

The greatest problem is that it remains unclear if anyone can challenge this type of alleged constitutional abuse. The Supreme Court has been trashing the standing of citizens to challenge the government, leaving some areas without clear ability of citizens to seek judicial review and remedy. This is becoming extremely serious since our system of constitutional guarantees mean little if people cannot bring such matters to an independent court for action. Congress needs to look into the loss of standing for citizens in this country as a priority of the new Congress and the new Administration.

For the opinion, click here and the concurring opinion, here.

For an account of the ruling, click here.

5 thoughts on “Sklars Lose Case Involving Scientology Tax Exemptions”

  1. This was a terrible decision, made even worse by the fact that the IRS continues to refuse to release the full details of Scientologist’s tax exempt status.

  2. Yes rafflaw and it certainly has gone astray with Bush saying not to necessarily take the Bible literally 🙂 I think you’re right about the constant denial of standing. It appears to be the escape pod whenever the court knows full well the administration or a corporation has done something blatantly wrong and if they ruled on it, they’d have to rule against their BFFs.

  3. What happened to the maxim, What is good for the Goose is good for the Gander? The Supremes have been usurped by the Bush administration and Professor Turley is correct that the incoming Obama administration has the difficult job of returning some sense to the court as well as insuring that Americans have the actual ability to challenge the government when it goes astray.

  4. Psychologists and psychiatrists need to incorporate as, “The Church of Scientolgy Too” so people may write off their treatment for being “cleared” of PTSD, etc. I bet we’d get mental health parity sooner if they did that.

    This couple has an honest case. I don’t see the legal distinction. Perhaps they should just call it Jewish auditing and then it would be covered!

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