The scientology organisation Church of the New Faith, yesterday asked the Victorian Supreme Court to declare it a religious institution.
This is believed to be the first time the question has come before a Victorian court. The issue has arisen in an appeal from a decision of the Victorian commissioner for payroll tax now before Mr Justice Crockett.
The commissioner refused to grant the organisation exemption from payroll tax and is defending the correctness of this decision in court. Section 10b of the Payroll Tax Act concerns exemptions that can be granted to religious or public benevolent institutions.
Mr Ron Castan, for the organisation, told the judge that it was also objecting to the commissioner's assessment, as well as his refusal to grant an exemption.
Mr Castan referred to a High Court decision that the YMCA was a religious institution, having religious motives or designs behind it.
"We say the applicant is a church; the religion of scientology originated early in the 1950s founded on the writings of Mr L. Ron Hubbard," he said.
The case will continue today.