176 F.2d 221 (9th Cir. 1949), 11999, Roberts v. C.I.R.

Docket Nº:11999.
Citation:176 F.2d 221
Case Date:June 27, 1949
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

Page 221

176 F.2d 221 (9th Cir. 1949)




No. 11999.

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit.

June 27, 1949

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Gilbert J. Heyfron, Earl E. Howard, Hollywood, Cal., for petitioner.

Theron Lamar Caudle, Asst. Atty. Gen., Ellis N. Slack, Sumner M. Redstone and S. Walter Shine, Sp. Assts. to the Atty. Gen., for respondent.

Before MATHEWS and HEALY, Circuit Judges, and YANKWICH, District judge.

YANKWICH, District Judge.

Harry A. Roberts, the petitioner, was employed as a taxi-cab driver by the Yellow Cab Company of California. His salary was the greater of either a fixed minimum or a stated percentage of his daily meter receipts or bookings. The Company forbade the solicitation of tips. Nevertheless, during the year, the petitioner received tips from about 50 per cent of the passengers. In his return for the taxable year of 1943, which he filed jointly with his wife, Ruth M. Roberts, who joins him in this petition, he made no return of these tips, of which, in fact, he kept no record.

On May 29, 1946, the Commissioner determined a deficiency and notified the petitioner that his return showed a deficiency of $144.23, based upon an addition to his reported income of the amount of $661.94, representing the tips which the Commissioner claimed were received and which the filed return did not reflect.

On August 21, 1946, the petitioner filed a petition with the Tax Court for a redetermination of the deficiency under the provisions of Section 272 of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C.A. § 272.

On April 2, 1948, the Court rendered its decision sustaining the deficiency.

This is a petition to review the judgment of the Tax Court. 26 U.S.C.A.§ 1141(a).

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Two questions are involved: (1) Were the tips compensation for personal services? and (2) Was the Tax Court right in sustaining the Commissioner's determination that the tips were approximately 10 per cent of the gross fares?

Section 22 of the Internal Revenue Code defines 'gross income' as follows: '(a) General definition. 'Gross income' includes gains, profits, and income derived from salaries, wages, or compensation for personal service, of whatever kind and in whatever form paid, * * *.' 26 U.S.C.A. § 22(a).

Treasury Regulations 111 defines 'compensation for personal services' in this manner: 'Sec. 29.22(a)-2. Compensation for Personal Services. Commissions paid salesmen, compensation for services on the basis of a percentage of profits, commissions on insurance premiums, tips * * *'

The essential question for determination is whether tips are income. The Regulation just cited declares them such. Treasury Regulations, - unless in excess of authority, are binding upon the courts, especially if the provisions which they interpret were reenacted after their promulgation. Morrissey v. Commissioner, 1935, 296 U.S. 344, 56 S.Ct. 289, 80 L.Ed. 263; Coast Carton Co. v. Commissioner, 9 Cir., 1945, 149 F.2d 739. Of course, regulations 'can add nothing to income as defined by Congress.' M. E. Blatt Co. v. United States, 1938, 305 U.S. 267, 279, 59 S.Ct. 186, 83 L.Ed. 167.

The petitioner challenges the regulation upon the ground that the tips are gifts under Section 22(b)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C.A. § 22(b) (3). It may be conceded that, as a rule, a payment cannot, at the same time, be a gift and income. Bogardus v. Commissioner, 1937, 302 U.S. 34, 58 S.Ct. 61, 82 L.Ed. 32. However that norm is applicable only in case of genuine gifts. In Botchford v. Commissioner, 9 Cir., 1936, 81 F.2d 914, 110 A.L.R. 281, this court recognized the principle that additional compensation for past services may constitute taxable income. And this principle is generally recognized in other Circuits. These decisions make the determination dependent upon the circumstances surrounding each case. And generally, the courts insist that the essential characteristics of a gift, -absence of consideration- be present. Blair v. Rosseter, 9 Cir., 1929, 33 F.2d 286; Schumacher v. United States, 1932, 55 F.2d 1007, 74 S.Ct. 720; Weagant v. Bowers, 2 Cir., 1932, 57 F.2d 679; and see, Bass v. Hawley, 5 Cir., 1933, 62 F.2d 721, 732; Simpkinson v. Commissioner, 5 Cir., 1937, 89 F.2d 397, 399; Willkie v. Commissioner, 6 Cir., 1942, 127 F.2d 953, 955-956; Dasteel v. Rogan, 1941, D.C. Cal., 41 F.Supp. 836.

We need not go into a historical consideration of the origin of tipping. References to the practice may be found, in one form or another, dating back more than a century. From the very beginning of the practice, it was evident that, whether considered from the standpoint of the giver or the recipient, it lacked the essential element of a gift, - namely, the free bestowing of a gratuity without of a gratuity without consideration. Despite apparent voluntariness, there is an element of compulsion in tipping. This has been evident to observers in times past when tipping was not so prevalent as it is now. Joseph T. Shipley, in his Dictionary of Word Origins, 1945, gives this account of the origin of the word: 'The word has several meanings, with origins more or less obscure; connected with tap and with top. In the sense of a sum of money given for good service, other languages are more specific, e.g., Fr. pourboire, for drink. It is suggested that our word is formed from the practice, in early 18th c. London coffee-houses, of having a box in which persons in a hurry would drop a small coin, to gain immediate attention. The box was labeled To Insure Promptness; then just with the initials T.I.P. See stubble.' (p. 358)

Sir Walter Scott noted in his Journal, under date of April 9, 1828: 'I like to pay postilions and waiters rather more liberally than perhaps is right. I hate grumbling and sour faces, and the whole saving will not exceed a guinea or two for being cursed and damned from Dan to Beersheba'. (Walter Scott, Journal, April 9,

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1828, quoted in H. L. Mencken, A New Dictionary of Quotations, 1942, p. 120)

The petitioner presses the argument that tips are unrelated to the services rendered. Indeed, it is argued that they are merely an expression of exhibitionism or 'show-offishness' on the part of the giver- a propitiation for his vanity. This assumption overlooks the true nature of the usage or the meaning which the word 'tipping' has acquired. Actually, a tip is connected directly with the service and its quality. He who tips thereby expresses not his own self-conceit, but his gratification with the service by compensating the servant over and above the regular remuneration for the service. Concede that, in many instances, the tip has come to be so commonly accepted an incidence of a certain type of service that he who fails to give it may incur the haughty stare of the servant when he leaves, or expect even a haughtier stare of the servant if he appears again, - 'the grumbling and sour faces' of which Sir Walter Scott spoke. Grant also that, with certain...

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