Did Donald Trump do it all for a tax break?!?! Not that we would be surprised…
Of course, we’ve been reporting on the sad death of Ivana Trump — the former President’s first wife and the mother to Donald Trump Jr., Ivanka Trump, and Eric Trump. She passed suddenly last month in New York City, and a service was held shortly thereafter on the Upper East Side. But just when the public grief after her death seemed to be quieting down, it appears controversy has come again: did her ex-husband bury her on his golf course JUST TO GET A TAX BREAK?!
According to the New York Post, Ivana was laid to rest at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. The outlet reported her grave is “not too far from the main clubhouse.” That seems… interesting… but, hey, let the family do what they wish during a tough time, right? Well, it turns out there’s more to it.
According to Fortune, New Jersey law states that land being used as a cemetery is “exempt from real estate and personal property taxes, as well as sales tax, inheritance tax, business tax, and income tax.” Cemetery land is also “exempt from sale for collection of judgments.” So hypothetically, if Trump gets sued and has to pay out a judgment, he now can not be forced to sell the golf club because Ivana is buried there.
According to ProPublica, the Trump Family Trust had previously been trying to designate a property in the nearby city of Hackettstown as a nonprofit cemetery company. Now, it would seem that the organization is moving forward with that plan in Bedminster. And even though Ivana is the only person known to be buried there, that may not matter: at least one tax expert notes that there is NO minimum requirement for a cemetery designation in New Jersey.
Brooke Harrington, a tax researcher and professor at Dartmouth College, argued this past weekend that using the golf course as a cemetery was “a trifecta of tax avoidance,” per Fortune. The tax expert shared:
“Property, income & sales tax, all eliminated. no stipulation regarding a minimum of human remains necessary for the tax breaks to kick in. Looks like one corpse will suffice to make at least three forms of tax vanish.”
On Monday, a Trump Organization rep pushed back on that possibility, though. In an email to Fortune, the spokesperson called the tax break allegations “truly evil.” There does at least appear to be some history on Trump’s side. Back in 2007, the former host of The Apprentice told the New York Post that he wanted to be laid to rest in the “beautiful land” of his New Jersey golf club when he died.
And in 2014, the Trump Org sought legal approval to construct a 10-plot private family mausoleum at the golf club. In a court filing that year, later uncovered by the Washington Post, the Trump Org stated:
“Mr. Trump… specifically chose this property for his final resting place as it is his favorite property.”
Of course, both things could be true. It can be true Trump really does think Bedminster would make a beautiful resting place. He clearly loves the golf club! He played there all the damn time when he was President… But it could also be true he wants the tax break one gets with cemetery land in the Garden State. TBH, we’re not particularly surprised by that possibility. Are y’all??
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