August 2, 2022
Donald Trump’s first wife Ivana was buried in a gold-hued coffin at the former president’s New Jersey golf club last month, following an Upper East Side funeral service at which she was remembered as a woman who was “adored,” reports Fortune Magazine.
However, the Trump family has been accused of having ulterior motives, Fortune says, for choosing the golf course as her final resting places—motives that could benefit the family patriarch’s finances.
Trump’s first wife—and mother to his three oldest children Donald Jr., Ivanka and Eric—passed away in July.
She was laid to rest at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, according to the New York Post, which reported that her grave was “not too far from the main clubhouse” and below the backside of the first tee.
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 now is buried—as a non-profit cemetery company.
Indeed, 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.
Cemetery property is also exempt from sale for collection of judgements, with cemetery trust funds and trust income exempt from both tax and sale or seizure for collection of judgments against the company.
Ivana Trump is the only known person to have been buried onsite at Trump National Golf Club, according to reports.
Brooke Harrington, a tax researcher and professor of sociology at Dartmouth, said in a tweet on Sunday, July 31, that using the golf course as a cemetery was “a trifecta of tax avoidance.”
She added that in New Jersey, there was “no stipulation regarding a minimum [number] 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,” she said.
A representative from the Trump Organization told Fortune in an email on Monday that links being made between Ivana Trump’s grave site and tax laws were “truly evil.”
Trump himself has previously expressed wishes to be buried at his New Jersey golf club, telling the New York Post in 2007 that he wanted to be laid to rest in the “beautiful land” of Bedminster.
“Mr. Trump … specifically chose this property for his final resting place as it is his favorite property,” his company wrote in a 2014 filing seen by The Washington Post.
The filing sought approval to build a ten-plot private family mausoleum at Trump National Golf Club.
Resistance from local decisionmakers reportedly led to withdrawals and resubmittals of proposed burial sites over the years, with Trump’s ideas ranging from a small but opulent family mausoleum to a 1,000-grave site that would see plots for sale to members of the golf club.
While registering the golf course as a cemetery would exempt it from taxes, the former president 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.
Trump reportedly owns several goats and farms hay at the resort, which reduced his tax bill by around $88,000 a year, according to a Huffington Postanalysis
Under this arrangement, the golf course was taxed at just over $6 an acre in 2019, rather than $462 an acre.
Research contact: @FortuneMagazine