Ivana Trump's Grave Could Be a 'Trifecta of Tax Avoidance'

Cemeteries, even those on golf courses, are exempt from many New Jersey taxes
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2022 3:24 PM CDT
Ivana Trump's Grave Could Be a Tax Break
The clubhouse at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

Ivana Trump's gravesite at her ex-husband's golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, is pretty basic: a wreath of flowers at one end, and a flat, engraved marker on the other. It's just off the course but not in anyone's line of sight, set off by itself. In fact, photos of the grave have brought criticism of the site as disrespectful, TMZ reports. But it makes the Trump National Golf Club a cemetery, per the Guardian, which could exempt Donald Trump from a bunch of taxes under New Jersey law. A professor who looked into the matter tweeted that the gravesite could provide "a trifecta of tax avoidance. Property, income & sales tax, all eliminated."

The state's tax code exempts cemetery land from all taxes, rates, and assessments, as well as personal property taxes, business taxes, sales taxes, income taxes, and inheritance taxes, per Insider. Wreaths, flowers, and such can be taxed, however. Brooke Harrington, a professor at Dartmouth, said it appears that one grave would be enough to render the taxes moot. The cemetery designation might not provide exemptions for the entire property, per the Guardian. But Trump has used similar strategies to cut taxes modestly, such as registering the club as a farm.

The cemetery idea has come up before. The family trust has tried to register a property in Hackettstown as a nonprofit cemetery company; ProPublica posted the documents. Trump also proposed building a mausoleum for himself, then enlarged the plan to accommodate more than 1,000 graves. A couple of other plans also were considered. Trump told the New York Post in 2007 that a mausoleum at Bedminster would be a fine resting place. "This is such beautiful land," he said, "and Bedminster is one of the richest places in the country." Harrington sees Ivana Trump's gravesite as more depressing, saying she was surprised that Donald Jr., Ivana, and Eric Trump would let their father "treat their mother like this," adding, "Burying Ivana in little more than a pauper's grave disgraces them all." (More Donald Trump stories.)

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