LAS VEGAS, Dec. 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — By an overwhelming majority vote of the Nevada Tax Commission, the United States Raelian Movement (USRM) yesterday won its appeal for state sales tax exemption in Nevada, according to Thomas Kaenzig, Presiding Bishop of the United States Raelian Movement.
“The Nevada Department of Taxation initially declined to grant us sales tax exemption in 2010,” Kaenzig said. “Following our appeal to the Nevada Tax Commission that same year, we were finally granted that exemption, and it was renewed in 2015 without incident.”
He said that in 2020, the state once again refused to grant sales tax exemption for the USRM.
“It was declined even though there hadn’t been any changes in the law or the activities of the Raelian Movement in Nevada,” Kaenzig said. “But the state argued that because the USRM doesn’t operate a church, it doesn’t qualify for the tax exemption.”
Kaenzig said the ruling was clearly discriminatory toward smaller religions and others that don’t operate a specific physical place of worship.
Once again, the USRM appealed the decision.
“Raelians understand that our creators, the Elohim, created all plants, animals and human beings,” he said. “That means the entire planet is our temple, and that we can worship the Elohim anywhere on Earth.”
While the 2010 appeal ruling was a 4-3 close decision by the Nevada Tax Commission, only one tax commissioner opposed the USRM sales tax exemption in yesterday’s ruling.
“This renewed our exemption, and this time it’s very clear that the Nevada Tax Commission ruling is a great victory not only for the USRM but for all religions that don’t operate a specific place of worship in Nevada,” Kaenzig said. “After all, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, and the government cannot discriminate based on the size or nature of the religious practices.”
Kaenzig said he hopes the new ruling “will inspire members of other religions in Nevada that haven’t been granted the exemption due to the very narrow definition of the Nevada statutes.”
“Yesterday’s ruling in our favor is a clear signal that the Nevada Tax Commission recognizes the constitutional rights of non-traditional religions,” he said.
SOURCE Raelian Movement