255 U.S. 257 (1921), 442, United States v. Field

Docket Nº:No. 442
Citation:255 U.S. 257, 41 S.Ct. 256, 65 L.Ed. 617
Party Name:United States v. Field
Case Date:February 28, 1921
Court:United States Supreme Court

Page 257

255 U.S. 257 (1921)

41 S.Ct. 256, 65 L.Ed. 617

United States



No. 442

United States Supreme Court

Feb. 28, 1921

Argued December 9, 1920



1. The provisions of laws imposing taxes are not to be extended by implication. P. 262.

2. The Revenue Act of 1916, § 202, c. 463, 39 Stat. 777, did not impose an estate tax upon property passing under a testamentary execution of a general power of appointment. Id.

3. To be taxable under clause (a) of § 202 of the act, the estate must be (1) an interest of the decedent at the time of his death, (2) which, after his death, is subject to the payment of the charges against his estate and the expenses of administration, and (3) is subject to distribution as part of his estate, and these conditions are expressed conjunctively, and cannot be construed as disjunctive. Id.

4. A general power of appointment by will does not, of itself, vest any estate in the donee of the power. P. 263.

5. In equity, property passing under such a power may be treated as assets of the donee of the power, distributable to his creditors, but only when the power has been executed, and executed in favor of a volunteer, and then only to the extent to which the donee's own estate is insufficient to pay his debts, and his executor, if he take the appointed property at all, takes not as executor, but as representative of the creditors. Id.

6. In any event, the property subject to such a power is not subject to distribution as part of the estate of the donee. P. 264.

7. Clause(b) of § 202 of the act, describing a transfer of an interest in the decedent's own property in his lifetime, intended to take effect at or after his death, does not cover a transfer by testamentary execution of a power of appointment over property not his own. Id.

8. The fact that, in the later Act of February 24, 1919, property passing under a general power of appointment executed by the deceased was expressly included in the valuation of his estate for taxation shows at least a legislative doubt whether the Act of 1916 included such property. P. 265.

55 Ct.Clms. 430 affirmed.

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The case is stated in the opinion.

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PITNEY, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE PITNEY delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is an appeal from a judgment of the Court of Claims sustaining a claim for refund of an estate tax exacted under Title II of Revenue Act Sept. 8, 1916, c. 463, 39 Stat. 756, 777, as amended by Act March 3, 1917, c. 159, 39 Stat. 1000, 1002. It presents the question whether the act taxed a certain interest that passed under testamentary execution of a general power of appointment created prior, but executed subsequent, to its passage.

The facts are as follows: Joseph N. Field, a citizen and resident of Illinois, died April 29, 1914, leaving a will which was duly admitted to probate in that state, and by which he gave the residue of his estate, after payment of certain

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legacies, to trustees, with provision that one-third of it should be set apart and held as a separate trust fund for the benefit of his wife, Kate Field, the net income to be paid to her during life, and from and after her death the net income of one-half of said share of the trust estate to be paid to such persons and in such shares as she should appoint by last will and testament. The trust was to continue until the death of the last surviving grandchild of the testator who was living at the time of his death, and at its termination the undistributed estate was to be divided among named...

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