Fun with IRS Form 990

Form 990 inset

One way to learn about the activities of a non-profit organization is to obtain copies of their IRS Form 990. As a critic of young earth creationism in Kentucky, I am always anxious to view the latest Form 990 of Answers in Genesis (AIG), Ark Encounter, and Twelve Stones Christian Academy. These organizations are non-profits that promote creationism in Kentucky and are part of Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis empire. One can also glean other information from these forms about for-profit shell companies under the AIG umbrella and businesses associated with AIG. Usually, information from IRS Form 990’s is more than a year old and available for free (you need to create an account) from Guidestar, as well as other organizations. For the last year, the most recent Form 990 for AIG, et al. at Guidestar were for the year ending June 2020. Thus, I looked at the forms at Propublica. The latest Form 990’s available at Propublica are for the fiscal year ending in June 2021 and were submitted to the IRS in May, 2022. Links to all three forms are given at the end of this document, in case you want to go look for yourself. Presumably, forms concerning the year ending June, 2022 have been submitted this year, but may not be available for quite some time.

There are interesting, frightening, sad, and sometimes humorous items in these forms describing Answers in Genesis’s (and AIG shell companies’) metastasis in Kentucky. Understanding the meaning of the Form 990’s by AIG, Crosswater Canyon, and Twelve Stones Christian Academy is complicated by the odd arrangement of non-profit and for-profit shell companies under the umbrella of Answers in Genesis. I should point out that I am neither a lawyer or an accountant. Someone familiar with non-profit tax law is needed to review these documents in detail (if you are a CPA or otherwise qualified, please volunteer!).

AIG Form 990 for the fiscal year ending 6/21

  • Employees – 1016 (plus 120 volunteers).
  • Assets – almost $82 million, up from ~$67 million for the previous year.
  • Creation Museum brought in $8,127,557.00 (expenses $7,046,399.00), for a $1,081,158.00 profit.
  • Books, DVDs, CDs, etc. brought in $5,775,844.00 (expenses $4,578,378.00), resulting in a $1,197,466.00 profit.
  • Answers Magazine brought in $705,839.00 (expenses $806,809.00), for a $100,970.00 loss.
  • Ark management fees (charged to for-profit Ark Encounter, which AIG owns) brought in $6,240,000 (expenses $10,952,928.00), resulting in a $4,712,928.00 loss. This is interesting and confusing since non-profit Crosswater Canyon oversees for-profit Ark Encounter.

Ken Ham’s salary for the period covered by this Form 990 was $230,911.00 plus $60,065.00 in other compensation from AIG and related organizations.

9 other AIG employees earned more than $100K during the year.

Ken has a lot of relatives on the AIG payroll! See:

  • David (Bodie) Hodge, Ken Ham’s son-in-law, $70,430.00.
  • Joseph Johnson, Ken Ham’s son-in-law, $50,305.00.
  • Renee Hodge, Ken Ham’s daughter, $64,957.00.
  • Jeremy Ham, Ken Ham’s son, $69,331.00.
  • Kristel Ham, Ken Ham’s daughter, $42,212.00

Schedule R has some interesting information concerning a business named “Answers Collective.” Earlier this year I found that in late 2022 that “Answers Collective, Inc.” had bought part ownership in a 1995 Cessna 560 Jet. Apparently, Answers Collective is considered an Unrelated Business that pays Income Tax (UBIT). Answers Collective controls something called “Parking Lot Ventures” located at 1 Ark Encounter Drive. It is probable that the $10/vehicle parking at the Ark is going to this side company and thus funds AIG’s corporate jet. The creationists may not have a good grasp of science, but I find this creative funding to own a corporate jet as nothing less than brilliant!

Crosswater Canyon Form 990 for the fiscal year ending 6-21

According to the Form 990, Crosswater Canyon (the non-profit portion of Ark Encounter) has 810 employees and 120 volunteers.

Net assets for the Ark total more than $143 million, but they had nearly $85 million in liabilities. Thus, the Ark has total assets in excess of $58 million.

Interestingly, the Ark is claimed to be losing money. In Form, Section 3, Revenue from Ark ticket sales totals $29,538,653.00, while expenses total $30,477,389.00, for a loss of $938,736.00. Revenue from sales at the Ark Encounter totaled $7,145,017.00, while expenses totaled $8,388,526.00, for a loss of $1,243,509.00. Bafflingly, the Ark has lost a total of $2,182,245.00 during the period the Form 990 applies to. This loss could be ascribed to low attendance during Covid, but one wonders where the money could have gone. The Ark apparently makes most of its money via gifts from donors, some of whom appear have deep pockets. Sadly, this means that no matter how few people buy Ark tickets, the Ark will never go out of business because of these donations.

On the balance sheet listing Crosswater Canyon’s assets, the value of land, buildings, and equipment totals $115,925,334.00. This is interesting because the Grant County PVA (Property Value Administrator) assesses the Ark Park as worth (and taxed for) only a value of $48 million. Thus, Williamstown and Grant County are receiving a low amount of tax revenue from the Ark to support local schools and other government endeavors. Yet, Crosswater Canyon is telling the IRS, and possibly entities lending them money, that the Ark and associated properties are worth at least twice as much as the PVA assesses and taxes them for. I reported on this discrepancy on The Panda’s Thumb here.

Also interesting is that Crosswater Canyon lists mortgages on the property totaling $47,458,306.00. I am not sure what this mortgage is for, so we can only speculate. In 2014 when the City of Willliamstown issued the $62 million in bonds for the Ark project to proceed, someone bought enough bonds at the end for the project to continue. Did Crosswater Canyon buy these bonds by mortgaging the property they already owned so the project could continue? How much are Ark bonds issued by Williamstown worth now?

Twelve Stones Christian Academy (now renamed Answers Academy) Form 990 for the fiscal year ending 6/21.

When the Form 990 was submitted, AIG’s elementary to junior high school was known as Twelve Stones Christian Academy and had 46 students. The school was located in a building adjacent to a church in Erlanger, Kentucky. Interestingly, the school lost money to the tune of $315,082.00 during the year ending in June, 2021. The Form 990 describes the school’s mission as, “With academic excellence, the Academy partners with Christian parents in their roles of educating and disciplining their children. We stand on the authority of God’s Word in all areas, and train students to think biblically and critically in all subjects.” Apparently, the school features many, many field trips to the Creation Museum and the Ark Encounter (see here. It is unclear who teaches the classes; the Form 990 in question surprisingly lists zero (0) employees. However, the following people are listed as officers and directors:

  • John Pinkston, President, no salary.
  • Renee Hodge (Ken Ham’s daughter), Treasurer, $65,295.00.
  • Dr. Georgia Purdom, Board Member, $109,622.00 (presumably this includes pay for other AIG activities).
  • John Pence, Secretary, $125,088.00 (presumably this includes pay for other AIG activities. He is AIG’s attorney).
  • Dr. Jennifer Rivera, Board Member, $73,974.00 (presumably this includes pay for other AIG activities).
  • Eric Thomason, Board Member, no salary.
  • Ken Ham, Board Member, $290,976.00 (presumably this includes pay for other AIG activities).
  • </ul> The school, according to their website, is, as exected, extremely conservative and fundamentalist in nature and emphasizes young earth creationist dogma. They state:

    The academic program at Answers Academy is grounded in Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” All subjects must start with the Bible as God is the author of all creation. It is the role of every Christian educator to shape the worldview of their students using the Bible as the authoritative guide. The teachers at Answers Academy teach all subjects from a biblical-worldview perspective and challenge students to think critically and biblically about every academic subject. The curriculum for Answers Academy is carefully chosen by our curriculum committee. They ensure that it is grounded in Scripture, apologetically sound, and academically rigorous so that it will equip the students with skills and knowledge to defend their faith, become good stewards of God’s earth, and be bold witnesses for Christ.

    Many of the textbooks used at Answers Academy are published by BJU [Bob Jones University] Press. We appreciate their biblical worldview stance and their consistency to look at each subject based on Creation, the Fall, and Redemption. In other words, these textbooks repeatedly look at subject material like literature, science, history, and so forth from a biblical viewpoint especially in light of the Creation Mandate, the Fall, and Redemption. This is especially important regarding science and history where the world is constantly attacking children with the false humanistic history of big bang, millions of years, and evolution. Answers Academy also supplements with Answers in Genesis and Master Books material which take a strong stance on the authority of Scripture.

    As kids learn the true history of what happened according to God's Word, they are better able to spot these common false claims and discern why they are wrong. These textbooks will also give students a chance to understand the nature of God and to have a deeper understanding of the world God designed for us that has been sadly marred by sin. …

    Science only works because God is upholding all things in a particular way and promises to continue to do so as long as the earth endures (e.g., Genesis 8:22). With God’s Word we can understand geology in light of the Flood, astronomy in light of Genesis 1, biology in light of God’s created kinds, etc. We also use science and the Bible to help us understand evidence. Everyone has the same evidence...the same earth, rocks, stars, DNA, etc., but the difference is the interpretation of that evidence. There are only 2 choices: God or man. A biblical worldview is where you start with God and His Word to understand the evidence (i.e. the worldwide Flood caused most fossils and rock layers). If you reject God, then you are relying on man’s fallible ideas and using that as your basis for looking at the evidence which is trying to explain the world without God - this is also called the religion of humanism which is sadly taught in the public school system today.

    History starts in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Therefore, there is no such thing as “prehistoric”! The Bible’s record of history is inerrantly revealed to us by a perfect God. It is the absolute truth and when the world’s rewritten history deviates from God’s Word, then it is that alleged history that is in error. We oppose the false views of history that is being articulated in our culture. False history like molecules-to-man evolution, millions of years (geological evolution), evolved from ape-like creatures in an “out-of-Africa” model, and big bang are challenged with the truth of history that uses God’s Word as the foundation. As kids learn the true history of what happened according to God's Word, they are better able to spot these common false claims and discern why they are wrong.

    English – where do languages come from? Language was created from God to communicate with Him and each other, but now we have a diversity of languages because of what happened at the Tower of Babel. Language families left Babel with various family groups being put to written script, whether pictorial, alphabetic, etc. Then languages continue to change—adding words, losing words, changing definitions, changing grammar, tonal adjustments, etc., to arrive at the various languages we have today (about 7,000 of them).

    Clearly, the school emphasizes Answers in Genesis’s dogma.

    So, why is AIG supporting the small school that is losing money? One possible explanation is that they hope to overcome financial losses with state money. There have been many political attempts in Kentucky’s legislature to partially fund non-public schools with public money. So far, attempts to fund private schools with Kentucky government money have been declared unconstitutional with respect to Kentucky’s Constitution by the Kentucky Supreme Court. AIG would be thrilled and financially boosted if their private school were to suddenly be eligible for public funding. Thus, they are continuing to support the school with the future prospect of making money and also having a number of well-indoctrinated young followers. Considering the continued ultra-conservative drift of Kentucky politics, the odds are increasing that someday public education money could be given to entities such as Twelve Stones. This is borne out by the announcement in February, 2023 that AIG has bought Toyota USA’s former headquarters in northern Kentucky for more than $31 million. AIG has announced that a substantial portion of this new piece of property will house an expanded Twelve Stones Christian Academy (now renamed Answers Academy . The new Answers Academy school will be expanded to include grades K-12 and have first class facilities. Amusingly, AIG recently advertised for a “science” teacher for Answers Academy; you may find the science teacher’s job description here. In any case, Answers Academy is scheduled to open for classes this fall.

    Answers in Genesis continues to expand in Kentucky, apparently with considerable financial backing from unknown sources. No matter how far below projections attendance at the Ark may be, AIG will continue to spread misinformation about science for some time.

    Appendix. IRS Forms 990 of

    Answers in Genesis

    Crosswater Canyon

    Twelve Stones Christian Academy

    Posted by Matt Young, who will be principal moderator of the comment thread.