Hambo May Lose $18 Million Sales Tax Kickback

This is good! As we reported in Ken Ham’s Latest Tax Maneuver, in an effort to evade the safety tax of fifty cents imposed by the city of Williamstown for every admission ticket sold by Ark Encounter, Hambo’s biblical tourist attraction, the company sold its main parcel of land — the one with the life-size Noah’s Ark — for $10 to their non-profit affiliate, Crosswater Canyon.

On the surface, it was a clever move — the city’s safety tax doesn’t apply to non-profit entities. But it may have catastrophic repercussions for Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the ayatollah of Appalachia, the world’s holiest man who knows more about religion and science than everyone else.

The latest news is in the Lexington Herald-Leader of Lexington, Kentucky, the second-largest city in the state. Their headline is Tourism officials suspend $18 million incentive for Noah’s Ark site over property transfer. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The Kentucky Tourism Arts and Heritage Cabinet has suspended an incentive agreement worth up to $18 million with a Noah’s Ark-themed attraction in Grant County because the park transferred its main property to a non-profit affiliate.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! We suspected something like this might happen. In Hambo’s Ticket Tax Battle Continues, we said:

Hambo wants it both ways — Ark Encounter is a for-profit corporation (so they could qualify for the sales tax kick-back), yet he wants to be exempt from the safety tax because … well, because he’s such a holy guy that everything he does should be exempt from taxes he doesn’t want to pay.

Hambo fought hard for that sales-tax kick-back, and it had to be a factor that encouraged the sale of bonds to finance the ark. Now the whole thing is in danger of collapsing. The Lexington Herald-Leader says:

The July 18 cabinet letter to Ark Encounter attorney James Parsons said the ark park’s recent actions put it in breach of the agreement with the state to refund a portion of sales tax collected at the site, which opened last July with a large-scale replica of Noah’s Ark.


Answers in Genesis, the group behind the Ark Encounter and the Creation Museum, disputed that the transfer of the property “created a default.” But [Answers in] Genesis co-founder Mark Looy pledged Friday in his prepared statement to “comply with concerns that the Tourism Department may have related to the transfer.

That will be difficult. The newspaper tells us:

The letter from Tourism’s general counsel B. Leigh Powers said the ark had several violations of the state agreement, including a failure to tell the agency of any change in ownership or get prior written consent to transfer assets. In addition, the agreement stipulated that the tax incentive, approved by the Tourism Development Finance Authority, was made for Ark Encounter. Non-profits can qualify for the tax incentive, but in this case, the agreement was with Ark Encounter, not its non-profit affiliate, Crosswater Canyon.

This next excerpt is fantastic:

The tourism letter also cites a statement on the Ark Encounter website that says: “The for-profit LLC structure also allows the Ark Encounter to be eligible for various economic development incentives that would not have been available with a non-profit structure.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! One last excerpt:

The letter asks Ark Encounter to comply with the existing agreement in 30 days, or request an extension in order to qualify again for the rebate. State officials said the sales tax rebate accrued before June 28 would depend on what the Ark does in response to the state’s concerns.

So there you are, dear reader. It’s not over yet. In fact, we think the fun has just begun. But don’t feel bad for ol’ Hambo. However things turn out, he’ll always have the rainbow.

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22 responses to “Hambo May Lose $18 Million Sales Tax Kickback

  1. Eric Lipps

    What it comes down to is that the Hamster is basically laundering money from his for-profit scams, er, operations through this “non-profit affiliate” while still trying to take advantage of a sales tax rebate not available to such entities. It looks to me as though he’s not just trying to have it both ways but actually is also breaking the law both ways. May he reap what he hath sown.

  2. Holding The Line In Florida

    I can think of a couple of verses to go along. Something along the lines of Render to Caesar and reaping what you sow come to mind. I am sure Hambone can come up with a few as well!

  3. Charles Deetz ;)

    Real businesses don’t behave this way. And aren’t this dumb. Sheesh, either they are cash-starved or full of hubris. Or both.

  4. Kinda remove$ any que$tion about what Ham i$ in it for, doe$n’t it?

  5. Dave Luckett

    I gave Ark Park five years from opening to closing. I think that might be an overestimate, now. But the best news is, it seems now that Ham won’t be able to separate himself and his own fortune from the wreckage. But please, kindly Yanks, don’t treat him as he deserves. Sure, he should have to pay back every penny of that rebate, plus all foregone taxes, plus all cleanup costs, but if he’s bankrupted, he might come back here.

  6. I wonder if part of Hambo’s impetus to make the Ark non-profit is so that he no longer has to issue reports of attendance. While it seems like he is losing a lot of money to save the safety tax, if attendance is low and doomed to go lower he can save face, avoid the tax, and while he loses the sales tax kick back it might end up being less than the safety tax if numbers are low.

  7. Based on Ham’s financial dishonesty throughout this whole ordeal as well as his general ignorance regarding large boats, I’m surprised Trump hasn’t made him the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

  8. I love the smell of schadenfreude in the morning….

  9. skmarshall


  10. Perhaps it’s time to consider other uses for the ark. Condominiums? Antiques mall? Fraud museum?

  11. Scientist suggests

    Perhaps it’s time to consider other uses for the ark.

    Sounds like a cue for another Curmudgeon Competition™!

  12. This won’t have any repercussions for Ol’Hambo at all. It will have repercussions for the Big Gay Wooden Box and those who were foolishly enough to invest money in it, ie not Ol’Hambo personally. Mark my words: however things turn out, he’ll always have saved a generous retirement fund. As we Dutch say: those who laugh last laugh best. And Ol’Hambo will laugh all the way to his retirement fund.

  13. I am disappointed by the sheer size of the cash flow Hambo has been able to dredge up from the depths of human gullibility. But then, this is his field of expertise.

  14. I really wonder what has become of the Ark around the middle of this century, with Ham long dead. If the Winchester Mystery House is now a de facto museum of eccentric spiritualism, may the Great Ark of Kentucky end up serving a similar function for creationism, a place where people come to shake their heads and chuckle a bit over these weird ideas that once had such an inexplicable appeal to a huge demographic?

  15. This is just another example of how the Conspiracy of Secularists have control, and all the more reason to send your dollars!

  16. @Megalonyx — I was going to make a similar comment, but I forgot how to spell schadenfreude.

  17. @hnohf I wonder if the Ark will be re-purposed as well. But I also have to wonder how well the thing is constructed. The wood already looks like there is water damage to it. Exposed out in the Kentucky winters, becoming even less attractive through the turn of the seasons, it is likely to lose all curb appeal. Since the belly of the beast has no protection it is possible that at some point it becomes a safety hazard. If aesthetics or safety become an issue it is likely that a controlled demolition will be the ultimate fate of the Ark Encounter.
    (An alternative, locals become so disgusted with evangelical Christianity they sell their collective soul to the devil and open it up as a casino.)

  18. Ham will dismantle the ark if he goes out of business. He wouldn’t want it to become a Mecca for ridicule of Christian stupidity. Especially one that he can’t profit from.

  19. No Ham won’t dismantle the ark, (or his heirs if he has passed on). If the Ark becomes unsustainable, it’ll end up getting sold during the bankruptcy process. Destroying the Ark is a multimillion dollar proposition. The Ark doesn’t have a lot of overhead (and now doesn’t even pay the tax man!) so it should be around for 5-10 years minimum. What looks like the most inane museum in the world, the Creation museum, is still going. Same thing, not a lot of overhead.

  20. Troy,
    The ark has a pre-weathered wood facade built on top of and next to a concrete building. It should last for quite a while with proper maintenance.
    The tax issue is another matter. Hammy may not have to pay property taxes, but the city of Williamstown can still impose an administrative fee (not tax) per visitor to the ark to pay for the necessary emergency services.
    So not only does Ham lose the 18M tax incentive by selling the ark to his non-profit, he is also in breach of contract. That means the I75 ramp and 2% TIFF are also a no go.
    If Hammy wants to keep his ark open, he’s going to have to pay.

  21. There’s also the matter of the sales tax to the IRS. He may have sold the property to himself for $10, but the value is several million The IRS is going to want their cut and they always win.