Pickens writes: "The Guardian reports that the government is urging councils across the United Kingdom to stop giving hundreds of thousands of pounds in tax breaks to the Church of Scientology. In the first time a cabinet minister has intervened in the long-running dispute over the tax breaks for Scientology, communities secretary, Eric Pickles, says a majority of the public do not want the "controversial organization" to be given the kind of favorable treatment usually reserved for charities and questioned this use of public money. "Tolerance and freedom of expression are important British values, but this does not mean that the likes of Church of Scientology deserve favored tax treatment over and above other business premises," says Pickles. "The Church of Scientology is not a registered charity, since the Charity Commission has ruled that it does not provide a public benefit. Nor are its premises a recognized place of worship." However Scientology has won some victories to gain tax-free or low-tax status. In 2000, it persuaded Revenue & Customs that it should be exempt from VAT on payments received because its services were educational and non-profitable and in a test case before the VAT tribunal, the Scientologists' lawyers forced the taxman to return £8m in overpaid VAT."
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