Kentucky Officials Have Ended the $18 Million Tax Rebate Deal With Ark Encounter

This is a big deal. And you can read more of the back story here.

Quick summary: The Creationists behind Ark Encounter initially said they were building a for-profit attraction in order to get a lot of perks, including a tourism-related tax rebate from the state of Kentucky worth more than $18 million over ten years. But after the city of Williamstown said they would add a 50-cent surcharge to all tickets to pay for a safety fee, Ken Ham‘s team sold Ark Encounter to their own non-profit, Crosswater Canyon, because religious ministries are exempt from that kind of tax.

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Earlier today, the Freedom From Religion Foundation announced that they had sent a letter to the Kentucky Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet notifying them that, because of the sale and new non-profit status, Ark Encounter is violating the terms of the tax rebate deal.

Guess what? They didn’t need to do that. Because three days ago, a lawyer for the Kentucky Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet sent a letter to the lawyer for Ark Encounter saying the exact same thing.

It has come to our attention that your client, Ark Encounter, LLC, is in breach of its Tourism Development Agreement… with the Commonwealth. On July 10, 2017, the Tourism, Arts, and Heritage Cabinet… became aware of a quit claim deed transferring the Ark Project land, with all the privileges and appurtenances to the same, from Ark Encounter, LLC, a for profit company, to Crosswater Canyon, Inc. a non-profit company.

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. 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.”

Furthermore, as a the Tourism Development Agreement is between the Commonwealth and Ark Encounter, LLC, not Crosswater Canyon, LLC, the current owner, please be advised that no further incentives may accrue from sales tax imposed on sales generated by or arising at the tourism development project, as of the date of transfer of the property, June 28, 2017.

That last bolding is the state’s. They’re saying the deal is over as of June 28. Ark Encounter can reap the benefits of the tax rebate based on attendance up to that point (less than a year into its existence), but that’s it.

And I love how they quoted an excerpt from Ark Encounter’s website — from an FAQ that Ken Ham has since deleted — as evidence that the Creationists have always been fully aware that this could happen.

The Creationists running Ark Encounter just screwed themselves out of $18 million over the next decade because they didn’t want to pay a local safety fee worth about $700,000 a year.

We already knew Creationists were ignorant about science.

Turns out they don’t know how to do math, either.

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