Donald Trump’s plans to build a grandiose family mausoleum with 19-foot stone obelisks on the grounds of his Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, were shot down in 2007 by local officials who found the design garish and out of character with the area.
Now there’s a single grave on the course — for Ivana Trump, the ex-wife of the former president and mother of his three oldest children. Following her July 20 funeral, she was buried not far from the clubhouse and behind the first tee in a bare plot with a spray of flowers and small granite plaque.
The grave appears to come with tax advantages for Trump and his golf course.
New Jersey tax code provides a “cemetery” with a “trifecta of tax avoidance,” with breaks for property, income and sales taxes, Brooke Harrington, a Dartmouth sociology professor and self-described tax researcher, wrote on Twitter. The state requires no minimum number of graves to qualify as a cemetery, she added.
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.
So I checked the NJ tax code & folks…it’s a trifecta of tax avoidance. Property, income & sales tax, all eliminated. pic.twitter.com/VDZBlDyuhQ
— Brooke Harrington (@EBHarrington) July 31, 2022
The tax code says any land dedicated to cemetery purposes is exempt from all taxes. Cemetery companies are specifically exempt from paying any real estate taxes or personal property taxes on their lands, as well as business taxes, sales taxes, income taxes and inheritance taxes.
In the New Jersey Law Revision Commission, a “cemetery company” is defined as “a person, corporation, association or other entity that owns or operates a cemetery, reported Business Insider.
It’s unclear whether Trump, who famously pays almost no federal income tax, intends to pursue the tax advantages and how much money is at stake.
The cemetery business idea has been kicking around for a while in the Trump family.
Tax documents from the Trump Family Trust, published by ProPublica, show the trust sought in 2014 to designate a property in Hackettstown, New Jersey, about 20 miles from the Bedminster golf course, as a nonprofit cemetery company.
Trump’s early mausoleum idea in 2007 got nowhere.
Bedminster’s then-Mayor Robert Holtaway argued before the city council that the over-the-top structure could attract the wrong kind of people, The New Yorker reported. He compared it to a place “in Austria where a Nazi war criminal was buried” that “became a tourist attraction,” according to the magazine.
Trump suggested the mausoleum could have versatile uses — such as a spot for weddings, and over the years submitted various other plans for cemeteries on his property.
In 2014, The Trump Organization filed plans to build twin graveyards at Bedminster, The Washington Post reported. One would be a 284-plot cemetery offering gravesites for sale. The other would include 10 plots overlooking the first tee for Trump and his family.
“Mr. Trump … specifically chose this property for his final resting place as it is his favorite property,” his company wrote in the plans.
Trump’s parents and his brother Fred are buried together at All Faiths Cemetery in Queens, New York.
Ivana Trump, the first person buried at Bedminster, died July 14 at age 73 in her Manhattan home after a fall down the stairs. Her death was ruled accidental.