Magazine article Church & State

Newark Archdiocese Not Paying Taxes on Monument Business

Magazine article Church & State

Newark Archdiocese Not Paying Taxes on Monument Business

Article excerpt

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark, N.J., knows that it owes quite a bit in state taxes thanks to its lucrative headstone and mausoleum business, and yet it hasn't paid a dime of that money. Now it's embroiled in a lawsuit that could reportedly have a major impact on the funeral business in the Garden State.

The Newark Star-Ledger reported that the archdiocese allegedly racked up tens of thousands of dollars, perhaps even more than $100,000, in use taxes, which account for seven percent of the wholesale prices of monuments and private mausoleums.

But in the past eight years, New Jersey has yet to see any of that money.

Records show that in December 2012, the archdiocese expected its headstone business would bring in about $500,000 annually.

A lawsuit, Monument Builders of Jersey, Inc., The Lincoln Monument Company, and Joseph Urns Monuments, Inc., v. Archdiocese of Newark, alleges that the archdiocese has turned its burial grounds into a cash cow--a potential violation of state laws regarding the use of cemetery revenue.

Although religious non-profits are generally tax-exempt, the archdiocese may have run afoul of the state tax code because it is buying monuments and private mausoleums for the purpose of making a profit and in direct competition with private corporations, the lawsuit claims.

In a response to the lawsuit, attorneys for the archdiocese admitted that the tax does, in fact, apply to the religious organization.

"The archdiocese is subject to the New Jersey use tax on its purchase of a monument or private mausoleum," attorney Donald F. …

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