This is why it is time to end tax exemptions for non-profit religious organizations.
When creationist Ken Ham persuaded the town of Williamstown, Kentucky to help fund his Ark Encounter theme park, he did so on the promise that the park would generate revenue for the surrounding businesses. In order to get the tax breaks Ham was seeking, he classified his park as a for-profit business, which subjected him to the local and state tax laws.
Here’s where it gets shady.
The town recently decided to place a 50 cent tax on every ticket sold in order to fund repairs desperately needed by the town’s emergency services such as police and fire department.
One would think this would be no big deal considering each ticket to enter the park costs $40. Parking alone costs $10. It is estimated that 1.4 million people actually visit the park each year. That means the park brings in around $56 million a year.
The town was hoping to take in around $700,000 from the tax. But Ken Ham abused religious exemption laws to evade the taxes after whining that the tax was unfair. Ham actually tried to argue that the park is exempt from paying taxes by claiming that it’s a non-profit organization. Town officials rejected his request for exemption. And that makes sense considering Ham previously classified his own park as a for-profit business, subjecting him to the local tax laws.
So he sold the entire property, worth an estimated $48 million, to his religious non-profits for $10. Religious non-profits are exempted from paying taxes, so Ham literally screwed the town over out of sheer greed and selfishness.
According to city councilman Kim Crupper, the tax had been approved in April, but Ham pulled his stunt just a day before it was to go into effect.
“This ordinance was carefully thought out, this does not affect their bottom line,” Crupper told the Lexington Herald-Leader. “We have to make sure your police and fire and emergency services can assure safety. If you’re going to pay $40 for a ticket and $10 to park, I don’t think you’re going to argue over 50 cents.”
But Ham objected anyway and demonstrated perfectly why conservative “Christians” can’t be trusted and why it’s more important than ever before to repeal religious tax exemptions so this form of tax evasion can never again take place.
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