Kentucky Noah’s Ark theme park loses $18 million after violations of tax law for refusing to pay a safety fee
The ongoing saga of creationist Ken Ham’s “Ark Encounter” theme park in Kentucky just took a hilariously unexpected turn.
According to Hemant Mehta of the Friendly Athiest (who’s been following Ham’s “Ark” for quite some time), Ham was sent a letter by the Kentucky Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet telling them a shady deed transfer violates the conditions of their sweet sales tax rebate deal secured for the failing creationist theme park.
The entire issue could have been avoided, Mehta argued, if Ham would have simply allowed the city of Williamstown, Kentucky (which houses the expensive theme park) to add a 50-cent surcharge to pay for a safety fee required of all parks in the state.
Rather than pay it, however, Ham decided to “sell” the deed of the park from Answers in Genesis, his for-profit LLC, to Crosswater Canyon, a non-profit he also owns — making the park tax-exempt in the process.
According to the tourism cabinet’s letter, the park “is in breach of its Tourism Development Agreement” now that it’s been sold to Crosswater Canyon — and in a brilliant display of pettiness, the tourism board accused Ham of being aware of the possibility of violating the rebate.
“We believe that your client is aware that they may not be eligible for state tax incentives if the Ark Project is owned by a non-profit legal entity,” the letter to Ham’s lawyers reads. “Answers in Genesis, the parent company of Crosswater Canyon, Inc., and Ark Encounter, LLC clearly states on its website: ‘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.’”
The text the letter quoted came from Ark Encounter’s FAQ, and has since been deleted.
The letter also stipulates that the park will be able to collect the tax rebate from the state up until June 28, 2017 — less than a year after its’ July 7, 2016 opening.
In short, Mehta wrote, the Kentucky tourism cabinet told Ham that “‘the deal is over'”.