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Trump Memorial Gardens: New Jersey Cemetery Exemption

A few days after Ivana Trump’s burial, we received our first call asking about Missouri law and tax breaks for cemeteries.  The first caller had descendants buried on grounds that had been taken over by a golf course, and he was inquiring whether the Missouri golf course could be receiving tax benefits by virtue of his family’s burials.  The easy answer was no because Missouri does not provide cemeteries the tax benefits that New Jersey does.  But as we explained to that caller, all the speculation about the former president’s motives for burying his ex-wife near the tee box on No. 1 is probably for naught.  New Jersey cemetery law is very similar to those states that grant tax benefits to cemeteries (like Kansas) in that to receive the tax exemptions the land must be dedicated for cemetery purposes.  That rules out the continued use of the property as a golf course.

News reports were quick to assume that a single burial could satisfy New Jersey law and turn the golf course into a quasi-cemetery and shelter income from the golf course.  Reporters suggested that New Jersey law does not impose a required number of burials for the tax exemption.   But what the law does require is a dedication of the land for burial purposes.   The Trump National Golf Club would have to be re-dedicated as a cemetery, and that would bar revenues from golfing activities.

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