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Taxes

Ivana Trump's casket leaves church after Manhattan funeral service on July 21, 2022

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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 p.m., 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."


Harrington cited New Jersey tax code and documents that 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 for burial grounds 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 gravemarker 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.

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.”

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

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President Joe Biden

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- President Joe Biden's campaign promise to increase taxes on corporations and the wealthy as part of a battle against glaring income inequality in the United States got an unexpected boost on Wednesday.

Early proposals to increase tax rates from Biden and his fellow Democrats hit a brick wall in Congress after Republicans -- and some Democrats -- opposed them. But a sudden reversal by West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, a swing vote in the divided Senate, has given Biden's tax agenda a new lease on life.

The amount U.S. companies contribute to tax revenue that funds roads and schools has plummeted since the 1940s.

Biden has often said in office that companies should instead pay a "fair share," a contrast to deference to private markets begun by Republicans with former President Ronald Reagan's election in 1980, and buoyed by rounds of tax cuts and deregulation, by both parties.

The new compromise bill includes $430 billion in new spending on energy, electric vehicle tax credits and health insurance investments. It more than pays for itself by raising minimum taxes for big companies and enforcing existing tax laws, Manchin and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

Biden said during a speech on Thursday that the deal would "for the first time in a long time begin to restore fairness to the tax code - begin to restore fairness by making the largest corporations in America pay their fair share without any new taxes on people making under $400,000 a year."

The bill would impose a 15 percent minimum tax on corporations with profits over $1 billion, raising $313 billion over a decade, they wrote. Companies could claim net operating losses and tax credits against the 15 percent.

The U.S. corporate tax rate dropped to 21 percent from 35 percent after a 2017 tax cut pushed by then-President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans, but many companies pay much less than that, and some of the largest pay no federal taxes, research groups including the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy have found.

Biden proposed raising that rate to 28 percent last year as part of an infrastructure spending bill, but the tax component was struck from the bill.

The new Manchin-Schumer bill also aims to close the so-called carried interest loophole, long a goal of Democrats.

Carried interest refers to a longstanding Wall Street tax break that let many private equity and hedge fund financiers pay the lower capital gains tax rate on much of their income, instead of the higher income tax rate paid by wage earners.

Eliminating the loophole would raise $14 billion, the senators say.

Schumer said he expected the Senate to vote on the legislation next week, to "lower prescription drug prices, tackle the climate crisis with urgency and vigor, ensure the wealthiest corporations and individuals pay their fair share in taxes, and reduce the deficit."

The Manchin-Schumer measure is substantially smaller than the multi-trillion-dollar spending bill Democrats had envisioned last year.

But it still represents a major advance for Biden's policy agenda ahead of midterm elections on Nov. 8 that could determine whether Democrats retain control of Congress.

It came just as Biden celebrated Senate passage of a bill aimed at boosting the U.S. semiconductor industry, another key priority of his administration, and as he struggles with low job approval ratings and ebbing support from his own party after a series of conservative Supreme Court rulings.

"This bill will reduce the deficit beyond the record-setting $1.7 trillion in deficit reduction we have already achieved this year, which will help fight inflation as well," Biden said in a statement.

"And we will pay for all of this by requiring big corporations to pay their fair share of taxes, with no tax increases at all for families making under $400,000 a year," he said.

(Reporting By Steve Holland; editing by Heather Timmons and Mark Porter)