137 S.W. 924 (Tenn. 1911), Crenshaw v. Moore

Citation:137 S.W. 924, 124 Tenn. 528
Opinion Judge:LANSDEN, J.
Party Name:CRENSHAW et al. v. MOORE et al.
Attorney:Gilmer P. Smith, for appellants. Thos. M. Scruggs, for appellees.
Case Date:May 20, 1911
Court:Supreme Court of Tennessee

Page 924

137 S.W. 924 (Tenn. 1911)

124 Tenn. 528



MOORE et al.

Supreme Court of Tennessee.

May 20, 1911

Appeal from Circuit Court, Shelby County; J. P. Young, Judge.

Action by Thomas B. Crenshaw and others against Charlotte Blood Moore and others. Decree for defendants, and plaintiffs appeal. Affirmed.

Gilmer P. Smith, for appellants.

Thos. M. Scruggs, for appellees.


William R. Moore died in Shelby county testate, and his widow, Mrs. Charlotte Blood Moore, dissented from his will. Such proceedings were had in the county court of Shelby county that she was assigned a year's support, to the value of $20,000, and dower of one-third of his real estate. The complainant brought this suit to collect from her an inheritance or succession tax on both her year's support and dower, under the act of 1893 (Shannon's Code, § 724), as amended by chapter 479 of the Acts of 1909.

The act of 1893 imposed a tax upon "all estates, real, personal, and mixed, of every kind whatsoever, situated within this state, whether the person or persons dying seised thereof be domiciled within or out of this state, passing from any person who may die seised or possessed of such estates, either by will or under the intestate laws of this state, or any part of such estate or estates, or interest therein, transferred by deed, grant, bargain, gift, or sale, made in contemplation of death, or intended to take effect in possession or enjoyment after the death of the grantor or bargainor," passing to collateral kindred of the owner; and section 20, c. 479, Acts of 1909, provided "that inheritances not taxed under the present laws shall pay a tax as follows: All inheritances of $5,000 and over, but less than $20,000, a tax of one per centum of their value. All inheritances of $20,000 and over, a tax of one and one-fourth per centum of their value, to be collected by the county court clerk of each county."

This is a privilege tax imposed on the right of acquiring property by succession. State v. Alston, 94 Tenn. 674, 30 S.W. 750, 28 L. R. A. 178; Knox v. Emerson, 131 S.W. 972. Likewise it is a special tax, and the rule is that laws imposing such taxes are to be construed strictly against the government, and favorably to the taxpayer. English v. Crenshaw, 120 Tenn. 531, 110 S.W. 210, 17 L. R. A. (N. S.) 753, 127 Am. St. Rep. 1025.

The widow's year's support is given her by statutory provision, which is found in sections 4020 and 4021 of Shannon's Code. It is inconceivable that the Legislature intended to levy the tax in question upon this bounty of the widow, given her by the law out of her husband's personal estate. She does not succeed to the husband's title to the property set apart to her as a year's support, but acquires it adversely to his administrator by virtue of the statute. By the act of separation of the personalty assigned to her by the commissioners, and the subsequent confirmation of their report by the court, the title to the specific property thus set apart becomes absolutely vested in the widow. The obvious intention of the Legislature in passing this statute was to provide a temporary support for her and her family immediately on the death of her...

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