Ken Ham’s Latest Tax Maneuver

Our clandestine operative in Kentucky (code named “Blue Grass”) has alerted us to the most recent news in the tax battle between the city of Williamstown and Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else. He’s the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia.

For background on Hambo’s tax battle, our last post about it was Hambo’s Ticket Tax Battle Continues. Essentially, the city of Williamstown wants to impose a safety tax of fifty cents for every admission ticket sold by Ark Encounter, the bizarre, land-locked “replica” of Noah’s Ark, the biblical tourist attraction run by ol’ Hambo. Ark Encounter is a subsidiary of Answers in Genesis (AIG) — Hambo’s creationist ministry. The tax doesn’t apply to non-profit, religious, or charitable events and organizations, and the city is well aware that Ark Encounter is a for-profit corporation. Nevertheless, ol’ Hambo doesn’t want to pay the tax.

The latest news is in the Lexington Herald-Leader of Lexington, Kentucky, the second-largest city in the state. It’s titled Could a $10 sale mean no more taxes for Noah’s Ark theme park?, and they have a comments section. Here are some excerpts from the news story, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

On June 29, Williamstown City Attorney Jeffrey Shipp sent a letter to the Biblical amusement park Ark Encounter, rejecting their request to be exempted from a new safety tax because they are a religious organization. Shipp said it was clear that Ark Encounter is a for-profit entity, which is how it has been listed with the Secretary of State’s office since 2011.

We know all that. Here’s the latest development:

But the day before, Ark Encounter LLC sold its main parcel of land — the one with the life-size Noah’s Ark — for $10 to their non-profit affiliate, Crosswater Canyon. Although the property is worth $48 million according to the Grant County Property Valuation Administrator, the deed says its value is only $18.5 million.

Whoa! Now the ark is owned by a non-profit corporation, so maybe it’s exempt from the tax — at least that’s the general idea. But — unless we’re missing something — Ark Encounter LLC will still be selling tickets, and it’s a for-profit corporation. This is getting interesting. The newspaper tells us:

That’s the latest salvo in an escalating argument between local officials and Ark Encounter, but some are worried Ark Encounter’s maneuver is a precursor to declaring itself exempt from all taxes, including property taxes that help fund Grant County schools. “I believe this is the first step,” said Williamstown City Councilman Kim Crupper. “The impact would be far larger than just Williamstown.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! That’ll teach those politicians to mess with ol’ Hambo. He’s the holiest man in the world — and holy men don’t pay taxes! The news story continues:

The council is scheduled to meet Tuesday night with Ark officials to continue talking about their differences, but Crupper and Mayor Rick Skinner said they think a lawsuit is imminent.

Then they give a brief summary of the tax breaks ol’ Hambo has already received:

Ark Encounter officials worked out a series of incentives with state and local officials, including a controversial sales tax rebate under the state’s Tourism Development Incentive Program that could return as much as $18 million over 10 years to Ark Encounter. The state also pledged about $2.4 million to improve the Interstate 75 interchange near the Ark.

In addition, the city and county created a tax increment financing district for Ark Encounter. The deal means Ark Encounter gets back 75 percent of the increase in property taxes within the TIF district, encompassed by the Ark’s 800 acres, for 30 years. The property started with an assessment of $1.3 million in 2011.

Slick, huh? One more excerpt:

[Williamstown Mayor] Skinner said losing all of Ark Encounter’s property taxes would hurt the city, county, and most of all, schools. “It would be a huge hit to the schools,” he said. Skinner said he is “disappointed” in how much the town’s relationship with Ark officials has deteriorated, but said he would wait to comment further until Tuesday’s meeting.

We have no idea how this will end, but we’re learning a lot about ol’ Hambo. So is the city of Williamstown.

Copyright © 2017. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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17 responses to “Ken Ham’s Latest Tax Maneuver

  1. SC commented:
    “That’ll teach those politicians to mess with ol’ Hambo.”

    I’d go much further than that because messing with these religious self-righteous people, greedy as they are, will do everything they can to subvert and twist the laws in their favor. Religion to them is a base to make money but also to discriminate and harass anyone who dares disagree with them.

  2. Sorry SC, got a new computer and need to log in w/my id.

  3. “We have no idea how this will end, but we’re learning a lot about ol’ Hambo. So is the city of Williamstown.”

    Called it.

    https://sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com/2017/07/09/kan-hams-battle-for-morality/#comment-114565

  4. I hope somebody is looking into whether they can indict Ham on a charge of fraud.

  5. Who issues their operating permit/license?

    Oh right, that would be persecution….

  6. It is sneaky and underhanded but as long as it is legal I guess there is no recourse. The only issue I can see is aren’t there bondholders that need to be repaid?
    For example if I have a mortgage on my house, before I can sell my house I need to take the money from the sale and pay the bank what I owe on the mortgage. $10 isn’t going to pay off the loan.

  7. Charles Deetz ;)

    Troy, I was wondering the same thing. And if the sale was just the land, but not the building, err ark. So maybe the bonds holders still own that. This petty wrangling is going to kill the Ark faster than low attendance or debt calls.

  8. They’re junk bonds. If the Lark Encounter declares bankruptcy and defaults on the loan, don’t they get off?

  9. Ken Ham demonstrates that he doesn’t have a shred of decency, honesty, or honour. He’s in it for the money.

  10. I guess Ken Ham wants to have his ducks in a row before the ship strands.

    (This works much better in Dutch, btw)

  11. jimroberts

    “It would be a huge hit to the schools,”

    Surely this in Ham’s eyes is a great benefit. Schools are indoctrinating innocent children with with the religion of evolution and its damnable doctrines of millions of years, big bang and climate change: they should all be closed. Get the children back to honest work, as the good lord intended.

  12. Eric Lipps

    Wow. I’m with Neil Rickert. Kids, can you say “tax fraud”?

    Even if it isn’t fraud, it would be . . . entertaining .. . to see the details laid bare in court. I’m sure the bondholders would be fascinated.

    So might the IRS, especially if the Hamster tries for immunity from all taxes. They don’t take kindly to what amounts to using nonprofit operations to hide money derived from for-profit enterprises. Even if what he’s known to be doing is legal, who knows what else a thorough investigation might turn up?

  13. Shuffling assets around is a early step before bankruptcy. Watch for Ken and family to position themselves to be on the first run on the ladder to get paid.

  14. Hans Weichselbaum

    When it comes to failing to pay taxes, the Kent Hovind saga comes to mind ….

  15. techreseller

    Once a huckster, always a huckster……..

  16. Too easy. Since Hammy doesn’t want to pay property tax, increase the ticket tax from $0.50 to $5.00 to make up the shortfall. What the Hamster doesn’t realize is that he can’t win. It’s not like he float his ark down the river to a new town and he can’t close up shop. Bond holders have rights.

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