Newark Archdiocese fails to pay state taxes in for-profit headstone, mausoleum business

The Star-Ledger


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By Mark Mueller/The Star-Ledger
on March 30, 2014

Looking to wring more revenue out of its Catholic cemeteries, the Archdiocese of Newark in recent years quietly entered the headstone and mausoleum business, a lucrative venture for which the archdiocese acknowledges it must pay a particular state tax.

Yet over the past eight years, it hasn’t paid a penny, The Star-Ledger found.

According to court records and the plaintiffs in a legal fight that could reshape New Jersey’s funeral industry, the archdiocese owes the state tens of thousands of dollars — if not more than $100,000 — in so-called use taxes, which are based on the wholesale prices of monuments and private mausoleums.

The disclosure could create new public relations difficulties for Archbishop John J. Myers, who has faced a torrent of criticism from inside and outside the archdiocese since The Star-Ledger revealed last month he is building a lavish extension on his future retirement home in Hunterdon County.

Legal papers connected to the case also show how the archdiocese has transformed its burial grounds into a source of enormous income, with millions of dollars flowing into the Newark chancery each year, possibly in violation of a state law that restricts the use of cemetery revenue.

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