Timeline of Scientology versus the IRS


  • Dec 1953
  Church of Scientology, Church of American Science and Church of Spiritual Engineering incorporated in Elizabeth, New Jersey by L. Ron Hubbard. Co-signatories were Mary Sue Hubbard, L. Ron Hubbard Jr. and Henrietta Hubbard.
  • 2 Jan 1957
  The Internal Revenue Service grants a tax exemption to the Church of Scientology of California (CSC).


  • 18 July 1967
  The Internal Revenue Service revokes CSC's tax-exempt status, citing three reasons:
  • Scientology practitioners are profiting from the "non-profit" Church;
  • The Church's activities are commercial;
  • The Church is serving the private interests of L. Ron Hubbard (a practice known as inurement).

Scientology denounces the revocation, declares its intention to ignore the decision and withholds payment of taxes for the next 26 years.

Ref: Church of Scientology of California vs IRS, 24 Sept 1984 judgement


  • 20 April 1973
  L. Ron Hubbard devises the Snow White Program for Scientology's intelligence agency, the Guardian's Office (GO), in an effort to root out and remove "false files" about the Church and Hubbard held by governments around the world. This becomes a sophisticated worldwide espionage operation targetting 17 governments and three international organisations.

Ref: Guardian Order 732, 20 April 1973

  • Early 1974?
  Kenneth Urquhart, "LRH Communicator", overhears L. Ron and Mary Sue Hubbard discussing infiltrating the IRS in Washington, DC.

Ref: "A Piece of Blue Sky", Jon Atack (1992), p. 227

  • Summer 1974
  Cindy Raymond (Collections Officer in the US Information Bureau of the GO) in Los Angeles, California, sends a directive to Michael Meisner (Assistant Guardian for Information, Washington, DC) ordering him to recruit a loyal Scientologist to be placed as a covert agent at Internal Revenue Service in Washington, D.C. The agent is to obtain employment with the Internal Revenue Service for the purpose of taking from that agency all documents which dealt with Scientology, including those concerning pending litigation initiated by Scientology against the United States Government. A number of Scientologists are interviewed as prospective agents. However, none are found to be suitable.

Ref: Stipulation of Evidence, United States of America vs Mary Sue Hubbard et al, Oct 1979, p. 18

  • Sept 1974
  Gerald Bennett Wolfe is selected by Raymond to infiltrate the IRS on behalf of the Church of Scientology.

Ref: Stipulation of Evidence, United States of America vs Mary Sue Hubbard et al, Oct 1979, p. 18

  • 21 Oct 1974
  Jane Kember, the Guardian World Wide (based in East Grinstead in England) issues Guardian Order 1361. Its "operating targets" include the following:

10. Immediately get an agent into DC IRS to obtain files on LRH, Scientology, etc. in the Chief Council's [sic] office, the Special Services staff, the intelligence division, Audit Division, and any other areas.

16. Collect data on the Justice Dept. Tax Division for the org board, the current terminals, and the people handling Scientology.

17. When the correct areas are isolated, infiltrate and get the files.

It also calls for the planting of "an agent, trustworthy and well grooved in, to infiltrate the IRS LA office" (target 2). That agent is "to obtain any files on LRH, Scientology", etc. from both the Intelligence Division (target 3) and the Audit Division (target 4) of the Los Angeles IRS Office. It also calls for the location (target 20) and infiltration (target 22) of the IRS office at the US Embassy in London, England in order to "obtain all documents" (target 22).

Ref: Stipulation of Evidence, United States of America vs Mary Sue Hubbard et al, Oct 1979, pp. 19-21

  • 1 Nov 1974
  Michell Hermann, the GO's Information Branch I Director, plants an radio transmitting bug in the conference room of the IRS' Chief Counsel, where a confidential meeting is to be held concerning Scientology. The meeting is to discuss pending legal actions involving the various churches of Scientology and to establish general guidelines for determination of what constituted a "religious institution" entitled to exemption from taxation under the Internal Revenue Code. The entire meeting is recorded and transcribed by GO agents in a car outside the building.

Ref: Stipulation of Evidence, United States of America vs Mary Sue Hubbard et al, Oct 1979, pp. 23-24

  • 18 Nov 1974
  Scientology agent Gerald Wolfe obtains employment at the IRS as a clerk typist.

Ref: Stipulation of Evidence, United States of America vs Mary Sue Hubbard et al, Oct 1979, p. 18

  • 4 Dec 1974
  Using fake passes, Hermann and Meisner illegally enter the Exempt Organization Division of the IRS and steal a file on Scientology, which they describe in a telex as "two shipments from DC . . . about ten inches" thick.

Ref: Stipulation of Evidence, United States of America vs Mary Sue Hubbard et al, Oct 1979, p. 38

  • around 30 Dec 1974
  Hermann orders Wolfe to obtain all documents related to Scientology from the IRS office of Barbara Bird, an attorney in Refund Litigation Service.

Ref: Stipulation of Evidence, United States of America vs Mary Sue Hubbard et al, Oct 1979, p. 41

  • Jan - July 1975
  Wolfe steals thousands of documents, totalling some 10 feet in height, freom the offices of Barbara Bird and Lewis Hubbard of the Chief Counsel's Office and from the Chief Counsel's file room, as well as from other offices within the suite of offices comprising the Office of the Chief Counsel.

Ref: Stipulation of Evidence, United States of America vs Mary Sue Hubbard et al, Oct 1979, p. 53

  • May 1975

"Project Horn" is devised by Greg Willardson (Deputy Deputy Guardian for Information) and the order to implement it given to Meisner. Its aim is to "provide a cover for PR [Public Relations] and legal for the way they obtained IRS docs." This project further implements Guardian Order 1361, Target 6, which already provides for the creation or a "suitable cover" to disguise the true manner in which stolen documents have been obtained from the IRS so that the Public Relations Bureau can use them without fear of being connected to the thefts.

Meisner is ordered to steal documents concerning organizations other than Scientology. Thus, whenever any stolen IRS documents are later released, those other organizations will also be perceived as having received them and their publication will not point to the Church of Scientology alone. Additionally, the project orders the theft of IRS stationery so it might be used by the GO to draft false letters from a fictitious IRS employee disgruntled with the organization. Wolfe is tasked with the actual thefts and accomplishes them successfully.

Ref: Stipulation of Evidence, United States of America vs Mary Sue Hubbard et al, Oct 1979, pp. 48-49

  • 7 May 1975
  Willardson requests the Guardian's Office World-Wide to approve an additional expenditure of funds for the excerption, xeroxing and cross-filing of 15,000 documents stolen from the IRS. This is so that Mary Sue Hubbard and other senior GO personnel can be advised "as fast as possible as to the IRS's intentions in regards to the Church during the ongoing IRS tax exemption negotiations." The letter adds that "[t]his was a valuable action in that it resulted in a more real estimate as to the IRS scene than was visable [sic] from the Legal viewpoint."

Ref: Stipulation of Evidence, United States of America vs Mary Sue Hubbard et al, Oct 1979, pp. 55-56

  • 27 May 1975
  Mary Sue Hubbard writes a letter to her deputy, Jane Kember, on Scientology's "IRS Strategy". It states:

Our overall strategy with the IRS shall be as follows:

1. To use any method at our disposal to win the battle and gain our non-profit status.

2. To buy all the time we can in terms of years ... So we work to win, but also to delay as time works on our side, not theirs ...

Ref: Stipulation of Evidence, United States of America vs Mary Sue Hubbard et al, Oct 1979, pp. 65-66

  • 11 June 1975
  The GO gets wind of a major financial audit to be made by the IRS of the Church of Scientology of California. Accordingly, the GO decides to obtain as much inside information as possible on the IRS' "line of attack". Meisner devises "Project Beetle Cleanup" for obtaining "all DC IRS files on LRH, Scientology, etc., in the Intelligence section, OIO [Office or International Operations], and SSS [Special Services Staff]".

The project proposes the placement of "FSMs" (Field Staff members, or agents) in the "required areas or good access developed", and further that "Pitts" (the code name for Nancy Douglass - a GO agent who had infiltrated the Drug Enforcement Agency) and "Silver" (Wolfe) attempt to obtain employment at the Internal Revenue Service Intelligence Division and Office of International Operations respectively.

Ref: Stipulation of Evidence, United States of America vs Mary Sue Hubbard et al, Oct 1979, pp.70-71

  • July 1975
  The Church of Scientology brings a Freedom of Information Act suit against the IRS. Raymond orders Meisner to obtain information from the office of Charles Zuravin, the IRS attorney who would be defending the FOI case. This establishes a pattern: Scientology systematically sues the IRS and other Federal agencies, then penetrates the agencies' attornies' offices to steal the papers which Scientology was trying to access through FOI in the first place.

Ref: "A Piece of Blue Sky", Jon Atack (1992), p. 233

  • 5 Dec 1975
  L. Ron Hubbard orders the Guardian's Office to establish an "Early Warning System" to alert him of any moves by US Federal and State authorities against Hubbard personally. This is to be achieved through the planting of agents in dozens of different official bodies. The Assistant Guardian for Information (i.e. intelligence) in Washington, DC is ordered to "Place a separate agent into the IRS Office of International Organizations (OIO) (as this office has a case preparation or investigative action going on LRH personally for income tax evasion or something similar)."

Ref: Guardian Order 158, 5 Dec 1975

  • 3 March 1976
  U.S. Directorate Secretary World-Wide Michael Taylor informs Greg Willardson, that the IRS London targets have been "handled."

Ref: Stipulation of Evidence, United States of America vs Mary Sue Hubbard et al, Oct 1979, p. 21

  • 11 June 1976
  Meisner and Wolfe are caught by the FBI after a security guard at the US Courthouse becomes suspicious of their (forged) IRS credentials. Meisner escapes and is hidden from the FBI by the GO, but eventually turns himself in.

Ref: "A Piece of Blue Sky", Jon Atack (1992), p. 237

  • June 1977
  Wolfe is convicted of the forgery of credentials and is sentenced to probation and community service.

Ref: "A Piece of Blue Sky", Jon Atack (1992), p. 240

  • 7 July 1977
  The FBI raids Scientology's headquarters in Washington, DC and Los Angeles. The GO is taken by surprise and tens of thousands of incriminating documents are seized, including complete records of the infiltration and burglary of the IRS and other government departments.

Ref: Various, including Los Angeles Times and other newspaper reports

  • October 1979
  Eleven Scientologists, including Mary Sue Hubbard, are convicted of conspiracy and imprisoned for between two and six years. L. Ron Hubbard goes into hiding in California and does not reappear again until his death in January 1986.

Ref: Various, including Los Angeles Times and other newspaper reports


  • 1 Nov 1980
  The IRS places a lien on the Scientology's Los Angeles headquarters, the Cedars of Lebanon complex.

Ref: "A Piece of Blue Sky", Jon Atack (1992), p. 262

  • Mid-Nov 1980
  Scientology appeals against the IRS tax assessment for the years 1970-72.

Ref: "A Piece of Blue Sky", Jon Atack (1992), p. 262

  • October 1982
  The corporate structure of the Church of Scientology and associated entities undergoes radical restructuring. At a Mission Holders' Conference held in San Francisco, Warrant Officer Lyman Spurlock is introduced as the "Corporate Affairs Director of the Church". Spurlock starts his speech by saying "Prior to the end of 1981, a few of us from the CMO got together and took a look at the corporate structure of the Church with the view in mind of making it more defensible and more regular and particularly not understandable by the traditional enemies of the Church such as the IRS, and to make an overall improvement" [my underlining]. The phrases in italics are omitted in the transcript, but exist in the tape of the Conference.

Ref: Tape recording of the Mission Holders' Conference, San Francisco, 1982

  • 24 Sept 1984
  Scientology loses its appeal over the IRS tax assessment for the years 1970-72. The Tax Court judge documents in detail how huge sums were moved out of Scientology accounts into those of L. Ron Hubbard during the period in question. The judgement also describes the obstructionist tactics used by Scientology to thwart the IRS - for instance, deliberately jumbling two million pages of tax-related material, so that IRS officials would have to sort it out at the cost of a great deal of time and US tax-payers' money.

Ref: "A Piece of Blue Sky", Jon Atack (1992), p. 345

  • Late 1984
  The Church's new intelligence agency, the Office of Special Affairs (which superceded the discredited Guardian's Office), strikes back at the IRS with the creation of a front group - "The National Coalition of I.R.S. Whistle-blowers". According to ex-OSA member Stacy Young, Scientology's aim was to undermine the agency's credibility. The group's president, Paul J. DesFosses, says Scientology provided substantial financing, but denies that the church ran the group, which helped fuel Congressional hearings in 1989 into accusations of corruption at the I.R.S. Kendrick L. Moxon, a longtime church lawyer, acknowledges that the coalition was founded by Freedom Magazine. He says its work was well known and part of a campaign by Scientology and others to "reform" the IRS.

Ref: New York Times, 9 March 1997

  • Summer 1989
  Scientology hires private investigators to investigate the personal lives (and, as L. Ron Hubbard's theories on "suppressives" would have it, the "crimes") of senior IRS officials involved in the ongoing Scientology litigation.

According to Octavio Pena, a private investigator in Fort Lee, N.J., a Scientologist identifying himself as Ben Shaw visits him in the summer of 1989 to explain that the church was concerned about IRS corruption and would pay $1 million for Pena to investigate IRS officials. Pena refuses.

Two more PIs, Michael L. Shomers and Thomas J. Krywucki work for Scientology for at least 18 months in 1990 and 1991. Working from his Maryland office, Shomers sets up a phony operation, the Washington News Bureau, to pose as a reporter and gather information about church critics. He infiltrates IRS conferences to gather information about officials who might be skipping meetings, drinking too much or having affairs. Scientology lawyer Kendrick Moxon - one of those cited in the Snow White scandal in 1979 - admits the use of private investigators but claims that they are needed to counter lies spread by "rogue government agents".

Ref: New York Times, 9 March 1997


  • October 1991
  Scientology leader David Miscavige and Marty Rathbun, another senior Scientology official, claim to have held an unscheduled meeting with IRS Commissioner, Fred T. Goldberg Jr. Miscavige offers to drop all the suits against the IRS if Scientology is given tax exemption. Goldberg agrees and creates a special five-member working group under Howard M. Schoenfeld to resolve the dispute, bypassing the agency's exempt organizations division, which normally handles those matters - an exceptionally unusual arrangement.

Ref: New York Times, 9 March 1997

  • 19 Jan 1992
  John E. Burke, the assistant commissioner for exempt organizations, agrees to Scientology's demand that its the bulk of its financial details should be kept secret.

Ref: New York Times, 9 March 1997

  • 29 June 1992
  The US Claims Court upholds the IRS' longstanding denial of a tax exemption for Scientology's Church of Spiritual Technology. The ruling strongly supports the agency's concerns over the commercial nature of Scientology and other matters. It states that the corporate structure of Scientology was "something of a deceptus visus. Real control is exercised less formally, but more tangibly, through an unincorporated association, the Sea Organization..."

Scientology claims that the ruling has ignored the facts and is filled with "gratuitous comments".

Ref: New York Times, 9 March 1997

  • 13 Aug 1993
  The IRS agrees to grant tax exemptions to every Scientology entity in the United States, plus foreign entities based in the UK and Cyprus. The Church files new applications for exemptions as part of the agreement.
  • 10-14 Sept 1993
  Two IRS tax analysts write internal memoranda saying that they have been instructed to ignore substantive issues in reviewing the new Scientology applications.

Ref: New York Times, 9 March 1997

  • 1 October 1993
  The agreement comes into force. Scientology pays the IRS $12.5m in back taxes and drops all the lawsuits brought by Church entities and individual Scientologists against the IRS.

Ref: Closing agreement on final determination covering specific matters, 1 Oct 1993

  • 8 October 1993
  David Miscavige holds a "victory rally" attended by 10,000 cheering Scientologists in the Los Angeles Sports Arena. He declares that "the war is over" and explains that he has defeated the secret "master plan" of the psychiatrists - or rather, the "pea-brained psych-indoctrinated mental midgets" - namely, to use the IRS to destroy Scientology.

Ref: Speech of David Miscavige to the International Association of Scientologists, 8 Oct 1993

  • 15 October 1993
  In Washington DC, the IRS formally announces exemptions for about 150 Scientology entities. Remarkably, this includes at least one body which is an explicitly for-profit commercial organisation: the IRS accepts that the publication of Hubbard books by Bridge Publications is a charitable activity. The IRS declares the agreement secret, despite its legal obligation under Internal Revenue Code section 6104 to disclose information submitted to the IRS by tax-exempt organizations.

Ref: Closing agreement on final determination covering specific matters, 1 Oct 1993

  • 10 Nov 1993
  The consumer affairs group Tax Analysts submits a Freedom of Information request to obtain the exemption agreement.

Ref: Tax Analysts press release, 26 June 1995

  • 7 Feb 1994
  The IRS refuses the FOI request, and Tax Analysts files suit.

Ref: Tax Analysts press release, 26 June 1995

  • 15 March 1996
  The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia orders the IRS to release to Tax Analysts field service advice memorandums (FSAs) prepared by the IRS Office of Chief Counsel.

Ref: Tax Analysts press release, 21 Mar 1996

  • 30 Dec 1997
  The secret agreement is leaked to the Wall Street Journal, which promptly puts it on its Web site and leads with a front-page story. Newspapers across the United States report the story.

Ref: Wall Street Journal, 30 Dec 1997

  • 31 Dec 1997
  The IRS announces that it is to hold an internal inquiry into how the agreement was leaked. The Church of Scientology denounces the leak. Scientologists accuse unnamed participants in the Internet newsgroup alt.religion.scientology of being involved.

Ref: New York Times, 1 Jan 1998, alt.religion.scientology


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Last updated 14 January 1998
by Chris Owen (chriso@lutefisk.demon.co.uk)