The continued survival of Scientology — although not guaranteed at this point due to the ongoing efforts of Leah Remini — depends largely on its tax-exempt status, which it receives through its designation as a
cult church. Many people argue that the organization is run much more like a business, for members are required to pay for ridiculously expensive auditing procedures and course materials to climb the golden ladder. Well, President Trump (who obviously knows how a business runs, along with how to run one into the ground) reportedly believes that Scientology should lose its tax-exempt privileges. This news arrives courtesy of a longtime Trump aide, Lynne Patton, who contacted Remini (via Twitter DM) with Trump’s thoughts.
In turn, Remini shared this information with the Huffington Post. Patton said that she told Trump that Scientology should lose their status, and he “couldn’t agree more.” Patton also vowed that this would happen “in the next 4 years or I’ll die trying.” So, Trump must have a beef with Scientology, and it’s not hard to figure out why. The organization preys upon celebrity status and wealth, so it’s virtually guaranteed that Chairman of the Board David Miscavige has tried to recruit Trump over the decades. Trump probably (and wisely) didn’t want to hand over his money or independence, so he never fell for it.
However, can a POTUS order the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status for a church? Nope, neither Patton nor Trump has the authority to request such an audit, according to the IRS website:
“The IRS may begin a church tax inquiry only if an appropriate high-level Treasury official reasonably believes, on the basis of facts and circumstances recorded in writing, that an organization claiming to be a church or convention or association of churches may not qualify for exemption.”