STUNNING LEAK: Scientology's entire asset portfolio the year it got IRS church status - 2020-10-03
It's one of those jaw-dropping moments in a jaw-dropping film.
In Alex Gibney's 2015 HBO documentary Going Clear: Scientology and the Prison of Belief, Marty Rathbun, Scientology's former top enforcer, explains the stark situation facing the organization and its ultimate leader, David Miscavige, at the end of the 1980s, after decades of the church refusing to pay any taxes and engaging in a war with the IRS.
"We were facing a tax bill of over a billion dollars, and the total assets, liquid and material, and property of the church was about a quarter of that at the time," Rathbun says. "And so just from a real simple accounting basis, it was life and death. If we don't get exemption, we die. If we get it, we survive."