Noah’s Ark Attraction Back in Kentucky’s Good Tax Graces

Daily Tax Report: State provides authoritative coverage of state and local tax developments across the 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, tracking legislative and regulatory updates,...

By Alex Ebert

The nonprofit religious organization that owns a $92 million Noah’s Ark attraction ended a tax-incentives showdown with Kentucky officials by transferring the ark back to a for-profit subsidiary this week.

Tourism officials claimed two weeks ago that Answers in Genesis, which owns Ark Encounter, had broken an $18 million tax incentives deal when the religious group transferred the ark property from its for-profit subsidiary to a nonprofit subsidiary for $10 on June 28.

While Answers in Genesis wouldn’t confirm, the move appeared to be an attempt to leverage negotiations with the city of Williamstown over a 50 cent ticket tax the city enacted to raise emergency service funds. The June property transfer to the nonprofit subsidiary occurred while Answers in Genesis was seeking an exemption to the tax. But state officials got wind of the sale and notified the company that it wouldn’t receive incentives unless the transfer was reversed.

Answers in Genesis spokesman Mark Looy issued a statement July 25 confirming the sale back to the for-profit entity, but denying that the organization had refused to pay the ticket tax. Looy said the organization had requested the city council cap the ticket tax at $500,000, but the council refused. The organization started collecting the ticket tax July 1.

“Ark Encounter leadership has agreed to meet the requirement of the ordinance,” Looy said in the statement. “Ark officials have tried to negotiate what they believed was a fair approach, rather than an open-ended one to the safety tax, and still meet the city’s needs.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Ebert in Columbus, Ohio at aebert@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Jennifer McLoughlin at jmcloughlin@bna.com

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