Dartmouth professor alleges ‘trifecta of tax avoidance’ burying Trump’s ex-wife on his golf course

Dartmouth professor alleges ‘trifecta of tax avoidance’ burying Trump’s ex-wife on his golf course

A researcher confirmed earlier media reports indicating former President Donald Trump may receive hefty tax breaks for having his ex-wife buried on the Trump-owned golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. Ivana Trump, 73, died in her Manhattan home on July 14 from “blunt impact injuries” to her torso, The Washington Post reported of an autopsy report from New York City’s chief medical examiner. Ivana was initially found unconscious on a staircase in her home after police got an emergency call around 12:40 PM, the Post reported. Her death was ruled an accident, and her remains were buried at the Trump National Golf Club. 

“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,” Brooke Harrington, a sociology professor at Dartmouth College, tweeted on Saturday. “So I checked the NJ tax code & folks … it’s a trifecta of tax avoidance. Property, income & sales tax, all eliminated.”

RELATED STORY: Ivana Trump passes away at the age of 73; Donald Trump attempts to fundraise off the announcement

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

Harrington cited New Jersey tax code and documents the ProPublica news nonprofit published indicating tax exemptions in place since May 2016 for what’s deemed a nonprofit cemetery service. The Trump Family Trust is located in Hackettstown, New Jersey, some 20 miles northeast of Ivana’s gravesite.

Still, the New Jersey Cemetery Act relieves cemeteries of “Real Property Taxes on lands dedicated to cemetery purposes; Income Taxes; Sales and Use Taxes; Business Taxes; and Inheritance Taxes.”

Cemetery property is also “exempt from sale for collection of judgments,” and cemetery trust funds and trust income are “exempt from tax and exempt from sale or seizure for collection of judgments against the cemetery company,” New Jersey law states.

It defines a cemetery company as “any individual, corporation, partnership, association, or other public or private entity which owns, operates, controls, or manages land or places used or dedicated for use for burial of human remains or disposition of cremated human remains, including a crematory located on dedicated cemetery property.”

As such, cemetery companies are prohibited from manufacturing or selling “vaults, private mausoleums, monuments, markers, or bronze memorials” and conducting “any funeral home” or “mortuary science” services.

Trump’s plans to use a portion of his 500-acre golf club as a burial ground were detailed in a 2012 NPR story. In that piece, journalist Nancy Solomon wrote that any member of the golf club “who pays about $150,000 to join and an additional $20,000 in annual dues” could be buried at the cemetery.

Former council member Sally Rubin worked out a deal with Trump to allow 500 graves on the golf club site as long as they weren’t visible. “If he wants a mausoleum and he wants to do it for himself and he wants to put that on the golf club proper, I didn’t have a problem with that,” Rubin told NPR. “It’s a large piece of property, and he has a lot more flexibility there, but I did not want it on a scenic rural road in our community.”

Ivana’s grave marker is a flat, rectangular piece with her name and dates of birth and death.

“I am very saddened to inform all of those that loved her, of which there are many, that Ivana Trump has passed away at her home in New York City,” the former president earlier wrote in a statement announcing her death. “She was a wonderful, beautiful, and amazing woman, who led a great and inspirational life.

“Her pride and joy were her three children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric. She was so proud of them, as we were all so proud of her,” Trump added, with a “Donate To Save America” link at the bottom.

Fundraising off this. pic.twitter.com/if4q50S9rR

— Andrea Mitchell (@mitchellreports) July 14, 2022

In the wake of Ivana’s death, depositions related to the civil fraud probe New York Attorney General Letitia James launched into the former president as well as his children, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, were postponed, the Post reported.

“In light of the passing of Ivana Trump yesterday, we received a request from counsel for Donald Trump and his children to adjourn all three depositions, which we have agreed to,” Delaney Kempner, a spokeswoman for the New York State Attorney General, told the newspaper on July 15. “This is a temporary delay and the depositions will be rescheduled as soon as possible. There is no other information about dates or otherwise to provide at this time.”

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