The Church of Scientology has denied that its leader and another official had an unscheduled meeting in October 1991 with Fred T. Goldberg Jr., then the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service.
A statement released by the church said that its leader, David Miscavige, did not have an impromptu meeting with Goldberg and that all meetings between church representatives and IRS officials were attended by many people and were scheduled.
The church's statement differed from an account of the session presented in an internal Scientology publication in 1994. The publication's version formed part of the basis for a description of the meeting in an article on March 9 in the New York Times.
The article said that, after the meeting with Miscavige and another church official, Goldberg formed a special committee to negotiate a settlement with Scientology in its long-running fight to obtain tax-exempt status from the IRS. In a ruling that surprised many tax experts, every Scientology entity in the United States was granted a tax exemption in 1993.
The IRS has refused to say whether Goldberg, who left the agency in 1992, had an unscheduled meeting with Miscavige.
In its new statement, the church said, "While an internal publication of three years ago does recount Miscavige approaching the IRS, it never states he was granted an unscheduled meeting on demand."
In a separate letter to the New York Times, Marty Rathbun, a church official, said he and Miscavige walked into the reception area at the IRS building in Washington and requested a meeting with the commissioner. Rathbun said they were put in touch with the appropriate officials and met with Goldberg and other IRS officials approximately one month later.
In 1994, International Scientology News, an internal Scientology publication, said Miscavige and Rathbun were in Washington with time to spare and decided upon "an impromptu visit" to the IRS.
It said they asked a security guard to see Goldberg. When asked if they were expected, according to that church account, the Scientology officials replied: "No. But if you phone him on the intercom and tell him we are from the Church of Scientology, I'm sure he'd love to see us."
Germany to mark entities owned by Scientologists
COLOGNE, Germany _ Germany will identify companies owned by Scientologists with an "S" in employment office data banks, saying job-seekers have a right to such information.
A spokesman for the U.S.-based Church of Scientology, Sabine Weber, criticized the plan as further evidence of government harassment, saying the "S" label was similar to a "computerized Star of David."