Freedom From Religion Foundation urges IRS to investigate Ark Encounter

Nov 20, 2014

By Dan Arel

The Freedom From Religion Foundation has sent a letter to the IRS urging them to investigate Ken Ham’s Ark Encounter. Ham has continuously attempted to run a for-profit business behind his non-profit in order to benefit from as many tax breaks and discriminatory practices as possible.

In an email the FFRF states:

Answers in Genesis (AiG) is a Christian fundamentalist group that advocates a literal interpretation of the bible, and owns the Creation Museum. Through a subsidiary nonprofit, it also owns Ark Encounter, a for-profit LLC, and has fundraised extensively for the park.

Donations to AiG, a nonprofit, are tax deductible, while donations directly to Ark Encounter, a for-profit company, would not be. But AiG fundraising materials include a space for donations to Ark Encounter, and note that donations are “tax deductible to the fullest extent allowed by law.” On the AiG website, donors have the option to designate contributions to Ark Encounter.

A separate Ark Encounter website also states that sponsorship is tax deductible.

Thus it appears that AiG is taking tax-deductible donations and directly giving them to Ark Encounter, LLC, noted FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott.

Nonprofits can run for-profit companies that are related to a charitable purpose, including a religious purpose. But, in order to obtain tax breaks, AiG has taken great pains to assure the state of Kentucky and other government entities that Ark Encounter will be operated as a private, for-profit business. The Ark Encounter website admits, “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.”


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15 comments on “Freedom From Religion Foundation urges IRS to investigate Ark Encounter

  • AOP – A separate Ark Encounter website also states that sponsorship is tax deductible.

    Thus it appears that AiG is taking tax-deductible donations and directly giving them to Ark Encounter, LLC, noted FFRF Staff Attorney Patrick Elliott.

    With the god-blinkers of righteousness helping Ken with “interpretation” of the law – What would the IRS know????

    Some running creation “museums” and “Dinosaur parks”, have been down this path before!

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  • Alan4discussion,

    Context on this from inside the US – The threat of having the attention of the IRS aimed in one’s direction is the equivalent of a lightening bolt from heaven that is hurled down by God to smite the dirty rotten sinner. The attack will be seemingly arbitrary, fast and decisive. There is no way to win. Given the choice of fighting the IRS or fighting the charge of a crime in the US court system, I’d immediately choose the court system with great relief. At least I’d have a fighting chance of a fair outcome in a public court, imperfect as it is, with rights and protections and the best lawyer that money can buy.

    When I had my own business, it was an ever present fear that a competitor could call and report me to the IRS and effectively knock me out of the competition for good. Everyone in the field knew of cases where this had happened and when we all met on occasion, we were closed-mouthed about anything having to do with financial matters so as not to give any opportunity to a competitor.

    The IRS is omnipotent and omniscient. Be afraid.

    The FFRF is on the right track here in striking fear into these snake-oil salesmen in their almighty pocketbook. Kick em where it counts!

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  • I don’t know if this “ark” is located in flood country but wouldn’t it be ironic if a flood did come and drown the ark?
    It certainly can’t float. Well, not for long anyway……………

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  • The problem is understanding them and the risks of honest error. Tax calculations can defeat the brightest minds.

    One year while I was at his Princeton home preparing his return, Mrs. Einstein, who was then still living, asked me to stay for lunch. During the course of the meal, the professor turned to me and with his inimitable chuckle said: “The hardest thing in the world to understand is income taxes.” I replied: “There is one thing more difficult, and that is your theory of relativity.” “Oh, no,” he replied, ”that is easy.” To which Mrs. Einstein commented, “Yes, for you.”



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  • 13
    NearlyNakedApe says:

    The “ark”, is due to be located in Williamstown, KY 40 miles south of Cincinnati on a hilltop at a safe distance from the Ohio river or any other major body of water.

    I’m guessing the engineers in charge of the project may have considered the possibility and advised Ken Ham about the PR disaster a sunk ark would generate. Not to mention the relentless laughter and mockery from the media and the general public.

    So…. too bad eh?

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  • Republicans go purple at the idea of the government giving handouts. Why on earth should the government be funding a crackpot Ark project to confuse the public? Surely it has higher priorities for its money.

    The original idea was the deduction was for doing charitable acts the government would otherwise have to do. Today churches do very little in the way of charitable acts. The deductions they get should only apply to charitable works.

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  • You may be under a misconception about how taxes work, if that’s the right word.

    Al Capone paid vast amounts of money to all the right people, plus he had numerous armed guards to ensure he slept easy. Nevertheless he was eventually imprisoned on a minor tax technicality. It can be cheaper for authorities to tackle deviants on taxation matters than for more substantial infringements like serial murder etc.

    Much of the resources managed by any government are not obtained directly via taxation. But that’s a more complex area involving banking law and monopoly economics. Nevertheless taxes provide a great cover story to cloud the issue of where the money really comes from. It’s a form of money laundering in a way. Print monetary tokens and obtain real resources in return. Nothing inherently wrong with governments obtaining necessary resources to undertake important community functions, however the use of massive deception in the process may be of concern to some. (Idea being that if everything is good then why does what’s really going on need to be concealed from the general public. Generally when things are deliberately obfuscated it’s not a good indication of legitimacy.)

    To comprehend taxation there is only 1 book (to my knowledge) that that covers the entire historical context, without which most of current and past taxation history doesn’t make any real sense. Even the jargon employed in the tax industry has an ancient historical context. e.g. the words excise, exaction, extort etc. are associated with specific practices involving typically painful and often fatal inducement and example setting to induce prospective tax payers.

    The book is: ‘For Good and Evil: the Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization’ Charles Adams.

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