Somebody care to decipher some 990 forms?

Here are the very latest tax forms from Answers in Genesis — they’re from 2011, so they’re a bit behind. The 990 form from AiG has a bottom line loss of about $400,000 for that year; the 990 for Crosswater, the front company for the Ark Encounter project, has a net gain of about $400,000. That’s about all I can decipher from them, so maybe some more experienced money managers can puzzle it out more thoroughly than I can.

I do see that Ken Ham gets a yearly salary that’s way over twice what I get. Ignorance pays!


  1. chigau (違う) says

    So, you’re asking Americans, right?
    Because, first, no one, anywhere, understands their own country’s income tax forms.
    And, second, they cannot be expected to understand something from another country.

  2. Bill Brock says

    Ignorance would appear to be a viable business: AiG is a nicely-run nonprofit. The bottom line is partly explained by increase in deferred revenue & accumulated depreciation, neither of which require cash. (When this Ark wears out, God will provide for a new one.)

  3. Bill Brock says

    Seek and ye shall find: Destination Concepts on page 8 of the Crosswater 990 raised an eyebrow.

  4. Bill Brock says

    Address redacted

    The agent need not be the owner, of course, but Gourley owned the predecessor corp (all per IN Sec’y of State)

  5. bahrfeldt says

    These are both returns for the twelve month period ending June 30, 2012. The June 30, 2013 returns are likely not yet filed. They appear to be professionally prepared with nothing blatantly wrong. They know how to answer the questions and fill in the form with raising any warning flags. The IRS has few “exempt organization” examiners, fewer still will be qualified or allowed to expend the time required to audit even selected items of an organization of this size and volume of activity, especially one of a supposedly religious nature.

  6. cag says

    Looks as if they are losing about 3 million due to dropping attendance (costs about 7.8 mil, revenue 4.9 mil). They are making up the shortfall with selling kitsch to the rubes and scamming people for donations/grants. They would be more profitable just selling junk to the deluded.

  7. suttkus says

    I do see that Ken Ham gets a yearly salary that’s way over twice what I get. Ignorance pays!

    I cannot count the number of creationists who have told me that the reason creation “science” is so slow in progressing is that it doesn’t rake in the big bucks like EVILutionists do. Funny how that never seems to be reflected in EVILutionist pay.

  8. Nigel Appleton says

    I see they employ half a dozen Ham family members, too – AiG seems quite a trough to feed from

  9. Ogvorbis: Apologies Available for All! says

    I am shocked, shocked, I tell you! A right wing authoritarian religious grope engaged in nepotism and possibly shady financial dealings? Shocking. And still showing a major loss? Even more shocking.

    Of course, I was shocked when I twisted the cap off of my soda this morning and it went, pssssssh, so . . .

  10. prfesser says

    And I’m sure he’s not getting a travel allowance, company vehicle, per diem, etc. In real terms, at least three times what I make as a full professor.

    If only I could have lowered myself to blare the praises of gawd-his-wonders-to-behold, passing the plate afterward. Or could put together Prfesser’s Miracle Weight Loss Supplement ($39.95, cash check or money order, free shipping). Or write a book on how to contact your inner chai — no, wait, that’s tea, isn’t it?

    But like almost everyone who reads this blog with eye-of-reason instead of eye-of-newt, I chose rationality. Sigh.

  11. azpaul3 says

    The problem with the salary thing, Doc, is that you do not pass the collection plate around in every class and lab session. You also do not have your minions out on campus selling over-priced atheism pamphlets and octo-tentacled t-shirts, buttons, mouse pads, coffee cups, paper weights, book marks, belt buckles, key chains and notebooks.

    You know, a mid-level quality 8×10 color glossy of you with a confident almost smile (kind of a Mona Lisa thing) would go over pretty well at all those conferences you attend. And if they’re signed, well, you can triple the asking price.

    You can learn something from Ken here. It’s not the message … it’s the merchandizing.

  12. prfesser says

    It’s more like “Careful, cultivated ignorance, with a large helping of doublethink, pays. Pays big.”

    …sometimes wishing I had Carl Sagan’s ethics coupled with Joel Osteen’s income…

  13. carlie says

    The problem with the salary thing, Doc, is that you do not pass the collection plate around in every class and lab session.

    True. Telling people in class that they’ll get good results by giving you things is generally frowned upon as bribery. Sadly, the same standard is not applied to religion.

  14. chrishall says

    That reminds me, what’s Hovind up to these days? He must be due for release in a year or so.

  15. numerobis says

    You make less than $90k as a associate prof? Even Canadian universities pay better than that. You need a union.

    @prfesser: you make even less than that as a *full* prof, and you don’t get any travel money from research grants?

    As for the 990s, looks legit. Two of the board members claim to be working 70-hour weeks between the two charities, but whatever. All three paid board members pull in about $180k each, which doesn’t sound out of line for board positions for that size of a business. The museum loses money, as do pretty much all museums world wide. If it made a profit, this wouldn’t be a non-profit venture, would it?

  16. stwriley says

    Most of it seems to be on the up-and-up, though there are a few things that relate to the question PZ has asked about how AiG lost just under $400k and Crosswater gained just over $400k. None of it seems to be crossing the line into illegal behavior. Bill noted the “Destination Concepts” consulting fee of almost $500k from the Crosswater 990, but this is perfectly legitimate; Crosswater is the organization that actually runs the Ark Encounter project under its mission of “religious education” and can thus consult with an a company that advises of how to do just that. Ark Encounters LLC is the development corporation that is building the project and owns the land, but it seems they do not do the actual operation. That means the whole thing is cleverly structured but absolutely legal.

    The key part of AiG’s 990 for finding out why they lost money and Crosswater gained a very similar amount is all the way down on pages 35 and 37. Basically, Crosswater is a “controlled organization” that is run by AiG and can thus share certain things with the parent organization. What we find on page 37 is what that sharing consisted of: a loan of $231k and shared salary expenses of $493k. Both of these transfers between the organizations are legal, but it does help explain why the one with actual revenue (AiG) had a loss while the one without revenue (Crosswater) did not. Much though we’d all like to catch Ken dodging taxes and playing fast and loose with the law, it looks like he at least takes the biblical admonition to “render unto Caesar” seriously.

  17. carlie says

    numerobis – the only profs in the US who make close to 90k are business, engineering, and possibly some computer sci. Everyone else is far lower; average salary listings one can find suffer greatly from the “mean has a huuuge standard deviation” problem due to the skew of the above fields. Fun fact: I’m in a union, and that helps some, but not as much as you might think. They’re very, very good at ensuring benefits and the occasional cost of living increase, but they don’t play any role in starting salary, and once that’s set low everything else stays low after that (especially as cost of living and other salary increases are usually as a percentage of the salary you already make, so those that have more get more).

  18. carlie says

    “176k” is somewhat of an unfathomable number to me; what really puts it into a context I understand is that Ken makes fourteen thousand dollars per month. I don’t even know what I would do with that kind of money. Just one month of that salary instead of my own would be enough to wipe out the major debts I have, and one year of it would take care of all the debts I have, my mortgage, do all required home repairs, and bank up what I’d need to get my first kid partway through college. A second year of it would put both entirely through college, buy new cars for everyone, and still have some left over. I have no idea what I’d do after that.

  19. khms says

    @19 carlie:

    […] union […] They’re very, very good at ensuring benefits and the occasional cost of living increase, but they don’t play any role in starting salary […]

    Why not?

  20. says

    [blockquote]I understand is that Ken makes fourteen thousand dollars per month. [/blockquote]

    I live on less than that PER YEAR.
    $14k a month is unimaginable to me.

    I’d have to hire someone just to help me figure out how to deal with having that much income.

  21. says

    screwed up again.

    Don’t remind me how to do block quotes. I know how, all the methods for all the sites I use.
    I just forget which of the many methods apply to which sites.

    Standards are a good thing sometimes.

  22. numerobis says

    Pay scales at Mount Allison, where my father teaches:

    These are not averages; these are the contract. The minimum the university can pay is $66k for an assistant prof, but most profs get a couple steps up. You gain a step every year normally. You can’t stay an assistant for 14 years, that’s just allowing to hire music faculty at $66k and CS faculty at $86k, for instance. Adjuncts must be offered permanent positions within a couple years, and there’s a cap on the number of adjuncts.

    Data from all Canadian colleges and universities from a couple years back (add a couple percent to get today’s figures):

    If you’re making less than $90k as assoc then you are below the tenth percentile at most Canadian universities and below the median at all except the University of Regina… Which might be the closest Canadian university to Morris, MN. So maybe it’s just that people who grow wheat don’t pay their profs very well.

  23. gussnarp says

    @numerobis #16

    You make less than $90k as a associate prof? Even Canadian universities pay better than that. You need a union.

    Yeah, the vast majority of American associate professors make less than $90,000. The only people making that much money in American universities are full professors, and the only ones making much more have their own endowments or grants to cover ie. $66k for an assistant professor is not the minimum here, more like the maximum. My wife is making less than that as a tenured associate professor. And they have a union.

    But your universities probably still receive a reasonable amount of funding from the government and don’t have football teams to spend money on.

    This is why it drives me nuts when conservatives talk about rich ivory tower academics: academics, if they’re lucky enough to have tenure track positions, get good health insurance and a modest living. That’s it. Now the conservative pundits and fundamentalist preachers who attack them, they’re pretty rich.

  24. weldonribeye says

    @ 16 numerobis:

    The two other board members that I think you are referring to (Pence and Hatton) actually have compensation just under $100K, all from AIG. The 990 from Crosswater shows no income from that organization, but lists the AIG income in the “compensation from related organizations” column. The Schedule O for Crosswater notes that they each work a combined 50 hours per week for the two organizations.

    Of note in each Schedule O is that the other organization is said to be in the religious education business. Don’t they claim to be science educators?

  25. gussnarp says

    This is depressing. I just went to the website where salaries for public university employees in Ohio are listed to see if I could get some vague outlines. Unfortunately you can only sort by salary range or name, so it’s a little hard to use, but using salary ranges gives some ideas. What I found out that’s depressing is that my wife’s associate professor pay is less than a university police sergeant. Sheesh.

  26. numerobis says

    The history of MtA night be illustrative: it was among the least well-paid faculties in the early 90s, supposedly because the government cut subsidies. And yet administrator pay was increasing, enrollment was booming, and there was a lot of new construction on campus. Some union hard-liners got annoyed at this. Several faculty strikes later (about every 5-6 years), faculty pay caught up to the Canadian average; the average also rose because of strikes at other universities. Unrelatedly, oil prices rose, and thus the Canadian dollar, which makes comparison today much easier.

    If US faculty unions aren’t able to set decent working conditions, they need to try harder. Professionals deserve to be paid for their work!

  27. unbound says

    Glanced through the filings (I’ve filled out a couple of 990EZ forms and associated schedules in the past for a relatively small non-profit). Not a whole lot that is interesting (990 forms don’t provide *that* much information on what they are doing). Only couple of items that I thought was interesting:

    For Cross Water, apparently they had a few donations of livestock / animals (page 21 of that document).

    For AiG, family seems to be doing well overall (page 31 of that document). Various family members of Ken Ham are pulling in a total of $259,600 (above Ken Ham’s salary).

  28. magistramarla says

    We were just discussing this last night.
    While I was still teaching, the cons were hitting hard at making public school teachers and university professors into scapegoats. They successfully convinced the rubes that the university professors were rich fat cats in their ivory towers and that we public school teachers were paid entirely too much for our cushy jobs with easy work, short hours and long vacations.
    At that time, my husband still felt comfortable and wasn’t being harassed in his federal job.
    Well, I guess they feel that they have sufficiently scapegoated the educators now, so the federal workers are the new scapegoats.
    Today the cons are working hard to convince the gullible that “we the people” are paying these “leeches” way too much and that their retirement packages are way too generous. Lyin’ Ryan thinks that the budget talks need to be all about restructuring those retirement packages.
    When my hubby’s job was changed from an active duty job to a civilian job to save the government money he was told that he probably wouldn’t get to stay in, but that he could continue doing the same work as a civilian. He stuck with the federal job out of a sense of duty and also because those jobs are stable when raising a family and have decent benefits.
    So, they managed to change things before he could reach his goal of retiring from the military. Now that he is only a few years from retirement in the civilian job and I’m completely disabled (no disability pay, either) they want to change things up and ruin his retirement.
    It’s becoming more and more difficult in the US for a typical middle class worker to retire without being destitute.

  29. prfesser says

    Four years undergrad, five years grad school, 31+ years college or regional university (like PZ’s) teaching. Full professor six years. Salary: slightly over $70k.


  30. raven says

    FWIW, the loot take of Ken Ham and his half a dozen family members is a lot more than salary.

    At some point in salary, it makes more tax sense to take the loot in deferred income and perks. This is a highly developed science in the USA, employing the finest minds we produce. To take one example, how do you think Mitt Romney ended up with a $100 million IRA in Bermuda in a few years?

    This is the general procedure. You get a salary. Expense account for travel etc. A pension or 410(K) plan. IRA. Platinum medical insurance plan that continues for several generations.

    Cthulhu knows what the Ham consortium manages to pull out of AIG and the Fake museum. A huge amount. If you add it all up, it just screams, SCAM.

    I don’t have a problem with it though. Money donated to Ham et al. is money not spent tryingto overthrow their other hate, the US government. And makers of luxury goods need to eat too.

    So for any xian creationists out there. Check you bank balance. Send it all to Ken Ham.

  31. Anthony K says

    Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.

  32. carlie says

    What I found out that’s depressing is that my wife’s associate professor pay is less than a university police sergeant.

    Oh, never do that. It takes all of my willpower sometimes during particular group meetings to NOT sit and figure out how much per hour each person is getting to be there.

    If US faculty unions aren’t able to set decent working conditions, they need to try harder.

    The history of unions in the US is pretty dismal. At one point it was something like 25-30% of workers were unionized; it’s now down to about 5%. And many of the ones left are dealing with state governments; no amount of union pressure in the world can hold against a state legislature that is trying to cut the budget so as not to raise taxes and not get reelected. Look up the history of the University of Wisconsin v. their governor for the last few years – it’s pretty eye-opening.

  33. numerobis says

    I was pretty surprised when I got to the US to learn that so few faculties are unionized. The top schools are rich enough and depend sufficiently on staff quality to be forced to treat them well, but even the second tier I would expect would start to hire B managers, with the resulting degradation in working conditions.

    I have friends in Wisconsin (I lived in Chicago for a few years) who keep me appraised of the goings on. Walker is the GOP’s wet dream incarnate. Indiana is doing only slightly less terribly.

  34. torgoguy says

    I work for state government and our salaries are a matter of public record. I actually like it that way and wish talk of salaries wasn’t always so hush-hush. I did a quick search and PZ’s salary is in the public record too. If you must know, have a look here to find PZ’s salary:

    But I’ll save you the time–just under $60K in 2012 (the latest that site has) and only $580 more than in 2009. Yeah, much more lucrative, at least in this case, to spout nonsense (Ken Ham) rather than teach science.

    On the other hand, you’ve got to hand it to Ken Ham–he’s got a hard job–the thought of trying to convince people that the Bible is a science textbook sure sounds like a steep proposition.

  35. Rich Woods says

    @unbound #30:

    For Cross Water, apparently they had a few donations of livestock / animals (page 21 of that document).

    That’ll be the dinosaurs.

  36. says

    This may have been pointed out (I didn’t read all of the comments) but Crosswaters had an increase in assets (land/buildings/etc) of 6 million dollars. However, this was not paid for with donations. Their “secured mortgage and notes payable” went up by about the same amount.

    In other words, they aren’t getting enough donations to keep up with their plans, they had to take out a loan to move forward with their project.

    Now for some pure speculation; it’s worth noting they would have had to back their mortgage with something, so they must have some significant contracts for pledges or something….or maybe they used AiG assets to back their loans…?

  37. groschen says

    My mind just went blank for a while there, and then I just realised how lucky I am for not living in the states.

    No, we don’t pay our professors nearly enough, but they are way better off than what I just saw here in the comments. I just used a converter from danish kroner to $, and we pay our phd. students just around 56K in dollars a year… And well then my mind just went blank once again…

    Groschen, now very happy because she lives in Denmark…

  38. Bill Brock says

    Start a theme park (or whatever) against religion, and that nonprofit will probably be poorly funded.

    Start a theme park (or whatever) to promote real science (as opposed to this taxpayer-underwritten junk), and that nonprofit could do very very well.