Tax break! Why Donald Trump buried ex-wife Ivana at a golf course

Buried at Trump’s New Jersey golf club
Ulterior motives
A nonprofit cemetery company
Cemeteries are exempt of many of taxes
Also exempt from sale for collection of judgments
A family mausoleum
Trump also wants to be buried at his golf club
Plots for sale for golf club members
A trifecta of tax avoidance
Skeptical of the rumors
Property, income and sales tax
Just one grave can qualify as a cemetery
Trump registered the club as a farm in 2019 to lower his taxes
Reduced tax bill by $88,000 a year
Various tax evasion techniques
Trump Organization accused of misrepresenting the value of its assets
Buried at Trump’s New Jersey golf club

Donald Trump’s first wife Ivana was buried at the former president’s New Jersey golf club last month. Mother to his three oldest children Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric, Ivana passed away in July.

Ulterior motives

However, the Trump family has been accused of having ulterior motives for choosing the golf course as her final resting place, motives that could benefit the family patriarch’s finances.

A nonprofit cemetery company

Documents published by ProPublica show that the Trump Family Trust previously sought to designate a property in Hackettstown, around 20 miles from the golf course where Ivana is buried, as a nonprofit cemetery company.

Cemeteries are exempt of many of taxes

Defining the golf course as a cemetery could grant the business a whole raft of tax breaks. Under New Jersey law, land being used for cemetery purposes is exempt from real estate and personal property taxes, as well as sales tax, inheritance tax, business tax, and income tax.

Also exempt from sale for collection of judgments

Cemetery property is also exempt from sale for collection of judgments, with cemetery trust funds and trust income exempt from both tax and sale or seizure for collection of judgments against the company.

A family mausoleum

Ivana Trump is the only known person to have been buried at Trump National Golf Club, according to reports. However, Trump’s company sought approval, in a 2014 filing, to build a 10-plot private family mausoleum at the golf club, according to The Washington Post.

Trump also wants to be buried at his golf club

The 2014 filing also said that Trump “specifically chose this property for his final resting place as it is his favorite property”.

Plots for sale for golf club members

Resistance from local decision makers reportedly led to withdrawals and resubmittals of proposed burial sites over the years, with Trump’s ideas ranging from a small family mausoleum to a 1,000-grave site that would see plots for sale to members of the golf club.

A trifecta of tax avoidance

Brooke Harrington, a tax researcher and professor of sociology at Dartmouth, said in a tweet on Sunday that using the golf course as a cemetery was “a trifecta of tax avoidance.”

Skeptical of the rumors

As a tax researcher, I was skeptical of rumors Trump buried his ex-wife in that sad little plot of dirt on his Bedminster, NJ golf course just for tax breaks”, she wrote.

Image: screenshot Twitter @EBHarrington

Property, income and sales tax

So I checked the NJ tax code & folks...it's a trifecta of tax avoidance. Property, income & sales tax, all eliminated”, she added.

Image: Olga Delawrence/Unsplash

Just one grave can qualify as a cemetery

She added that in New Jersey, there is no stipulation regarding a minimum of human remains necessary for the tax breaks to apply. “Looks like one corpse will suffice to make at least three forms of tax vanish,” she said.

Image: CA Creative/Unsplash

Trump registered the club as a farm in 2019 to lower his taxes

While registering the golf course as a cemetery would exempt it from taxes, Trump had already found a way to slash his tax bill for the New Jersey club by registering it as a farm, the Huffington Post reported in 2019.

Reduced tax bill by $88,000 a year

Trump owns several goats and farms hay at the resort, which reduced his tax bill by around $88,000 a year, according to a Huffington Post analysis. Under this arrangement, the golf course was taxed at just over $6 an acre in 2019, rather than $462 an acre.

Various tax evasion techniques

A year earlier, the New York Times reported that Trump had used various techniques to evade taxes on the fortune he inherited from his father.

Trump Organization accused of misrepresenting the value of its assets

Furthermore, documents filed by the New York attorney general earlier this year accused the Trump Organization of massively misrepresenting the value of some of its biggest assets in order to secure loans and insurance and tax breaks.

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