In what appears to be the most serious legal challenge to Scientology in several years, former high-level Scientologists Luis Garcia and his wife Rocio of Irvine, Calif., today filed a federal lawsuit against the Church of Scientology, alleging fraud over the way their contributions to the church were used. The suit was filed in Florida’s Middle District with the help of veteran attorneys Ted Babbitt and Ronald Weil, who plan to file additional lawsuits by other former church members.
The suit seems to come at a particularly inopportune time for Scientology as it struggles to counter a massive dose of bad publicity over the publication of Lawrence Wright’s damning history of the church, “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, & the Prison of Belief.” Among other things, Wright’s book raises questions about the way Scientology leader David Miscavige has amassed wealth in the organization.
In 1993, when the Internal Revenue Service granted Scientology tax exempt status, the church was able to escape a $1 billion tax bill. But it was still held to a Supreme Court decision which required Scientology to give refunds to members who asked for them.
The Church of Scientology has strayed from principle and devolved into a cash-hungry enterprise that misuses parishioner donations to protect itself from questions and to intimidate its own members, a California couple charged Wednesday.
The couple said in a federal lawsuit that the church had misused about $400,000 of their money, including donations meant for construction projects and for relief from natural disasters.
As Extortion day looms ever closer…. Death is the only recourse for many.
Death and taxes aren’t only certain, they also seem to share a same deadline in the U.S., according to a study that points to the role of stress in fatal accidents.
Deaths from traffic accidents around April 15, traditionally the last day to file individual income taxes in the U.S., rose 6 percent on average on each of the last 30 years of tax filing days compared with a day during the week prior and a week later, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
April 11 (Bloomberg) — In today’s “Off The Charts” Erik Schatzker reports that there is a 6 percent rise in fatal car crashes on April 15, tax deadline day in the United States. He speaks on Bloomberg Television’s “Inside Track.” (Source: Bloomberg)
Even allowing Americans to file their taxes electronically hasn’t negated the crash trend, lead researcher Donald Redelmeier said. The findings suggest stress, lack of sleep, alcohol use and less tolerance to other drivers on tax deadline day may contribute to an increase in deaths on the road, Redelmeier said.
“An increase of risk in this magnitude is about the same as what we observe on Super Bowl Sunday, a time notorious in the U.S. for drinking and driving,” said Redelmeier, a professor of medicine at the University of Toronto in Canada, in an April 6 telephone interview.
The research showed that there were 226 fatal crashes for each of the 30 tax days and 213 fatal accidents for each of the 60 control days.
“Our research suggests that stressful deadlines can contribute to driver error that can contribute to fatal crashes,” Redelmeier said. “People have, for a long time, speculated that psychological stress may contribute to real world crashes, but this is the first study to pin that down.”
The study, which appears as a research letter in the medical journal, looked at tax deadline data from the Internal Revenue Service and fatal traffic accident data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from 1980 to 2009. The researchers then used a database to identify crashes that led to deaths. For every tax day, they also identified a day one week before and one week after as a comparison.
Redelmeier said drivers who are stressed should remember to buckle their seat belts, obey the speed limit, avoid alcohol, minimize distractions and refrain from driving recklessly.
“Under normal circumstances, everyone nods their heads agreeable,” he said. “Under stressful circumstances, it’s when you tend to forget these pieces of advice.”
Here we go….
(credit: Sandy Huffaker/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A bill authored by a Southland lawmaker that could potentially allow the federal government to prevent any Americans who owe back taxes from traveling outside the U.S. is one step closer to becoming law.
Senate Bill 1813 was introduced back in November by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Los Angeles) to “reauthorize Federal-aid highway and highway safety construction programs, and for other purposes” .
After clearing the Senate on a 74 – 22 vote on March 14, SB 1813 is now headed for a vote in the House of Representatives, where it’s expected to encounter stiffer opposition among the GOP majority.
In addition to authorizing appropriations for federal transportation and infrastructure programs, the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” or “MAP-21″ includes a provision that would allow for the “revocation or denial” of a passport for anyone with “certain unpaid taxes” or “tax delinquencies”.
Section 40304 of the legislation states that any individual who owes more than $50,000 to the Internal Revenue Service may be subject to “action with respect to denial, revocation, or limitation of a passport”.
The bill does allow for exceptions in the event of emergency or humanitarian situations or limited return travel to the U.S., or in cases when any tax debt is currently being repaid in a “timely manner” or when collection efforts have been suspended.
However, there does not appear to be any specific language requiring a taxpayer to be charged with tax evasion or any other crime in order to have their passport revoked or limited — only that a notice of lien or levy has been filed by the IRS.
Boxer vowed last week to push House Republicans to pass the bipartisan transportation bill that would keep the Highway Trust Fund from going bankrupt.
“Thousands of businesses are at stake, and eventually we are talking about nearly three million jobs at stake,” she said in a statement. “There are many people on both sides of the aisle in the Senate who want to get our bill, MAP-21, passed into law, and I am going to do everything I can to keep the pressure on the Republican House to do just that.”
SACRAMENTO, CA (KXTV) - The federal government has filed a lawsuit to force anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan to provide her financial records to the Internal Revenue Service.
An IRS revenue officer said Sheehan refused to answer any questions about her finances after receiving a summons at her Vacaville home.
The U.S. Attorney’s office on Tuesday filed a petition to enforce the IRS summons.
The summons ordered Sheehan to produce bank account statements for the period from August through early November 2011.
According to IRS revenue officer Jose Arteaga, the financial information may be relevant to the collection of Sheehan’s federal income tax liabilities for tax years 2005 and 2006.
Arteaga said Sheehan first met with him on Nov. 22 and sought an extension to Jan. 17. It was during the January meeting that she refused to answer any questions or produce the requested documents.
Sheehan said she’s always been up front with the IRS and has no intention of paying her taxes. She says the government has already taken enough from her.
“If they (federal government), can give me my son back, I’ll pay my taxes, but that’s not going to happen,” Sheehan said