Fact check: Did Trump bury his ex-wife at NJ golf course to reap tax break?
TRENTON – Former President Donald Trump is not getting a tax break for operating a cemetery by Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, contrary to what the online rumor mill spun up after his first wife was buried there two weeks ago.
At least not yet, that is.
Cemeteries do receive tax exemptions in New Jersey, and Trump does have township permission to provide nearly 300 gravesites on the grounds of the golf club in Somerset County.
But state Treasury Department spokeswoman Danielle Currie said as of Monday, the state has no records of a tax-exempt cemetery near Trump National Golf Club. She noted a portion of the property remains taxable while other parts have been granted a farmland assessment, sharply cutting the property's tax bill.
But to gain a cemetery tax exemption, the golf club apparently would have to shut down.
“In order to be tax exempt, state law requires cemeteries and other burial grounds to register as such and be solely dedicated to holding bodies and/or ashes of the deceased,” Currie said.
Trump’s Bedminster property is hundreds of acres and subdivided into multiple lots, so it’s conceivable a portion but not all of the property could get designated as a cemetery in the future.
According to most recently available records online, the golf club is comprised of four lots listed under the ownership of Lamington Farm Club. Close to 184 acres are listed as farmland while more than 320 acres are classified as a golf course.
The total annual estimated tax bill for the four lots is $462,700.
In 2007, Bedminster officials rejected Trump’s proposal to construct a family mausoleum with 19-foot stone obelisks on the golf club’s grounds. Years later, they ultimately OK’d a 284-plot cemetery with gravesites for club members, township residents and veterans and 10 plots near the first tee for Trump and his family.
Ivana Trump, who died July 14 in New York City at age 73 from injuries in what was determined to be an accidental fall down stairs, is the first person buried there.
The funeral stirred up speculation Trump buried his ex-wife at Bedminster in pursuit of a tax break.
Dartmouth College sociologist Brooke Harrington called it “a trifecta of tax avoidance” in a viral tweet over the weekend, noting cemeteries don’t have to pay income, sales and property taxes in New Jersey. They’re also exempt from business and inheritance taxes and can’t be sold for collection of judgments.
A representative of the Trump Organization told Fortune that speculation linking Ivana Trump’s gravesite with tax laws were “truly evil.”