296 U.S. 211 (1935), 83, Bingham v. United States

Docket Nº:No. 83
Citation:296 U.S. 211, 56 S.Ct. 180, 80 L.Ed. 160
Party Name:Bingham v. United States
Case Date:December 09, 1935
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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Page 211

296 U.S. 211 (1935)

56 S.Ct. 180, 80 L.Ed. 160

Bingham

v.

United States

No. 83

United States Supreme Court

Dec. 9, 1935

Argued November 22, 1935

CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE FIRST CIRCUIT

Syllabus

1. Acts of Congress are to be construed, if possible, so as to avoid grave doubts of their constitutionality. P. 218.

2. Section 402(f) of the Revenue Act of 1918, which declares that amounts in excess of $40,000 receivable by all beneficiaries, other than the executor, as insurance under policies taken out by a decedent upon his own life shall be included in his gross estate in determining the estate transfer tax is not to be construed as applicable to a policy taken out and made payable, directly or by assignment, to such a beneficiary long before the Act was passed, where no power was reserved in the decedent to change the beneficiary,

Page 212

pledge or assign the policy, revoke the assignment made, or surrender the policy without the beneficiary's consent, even though, by the terms of the policy or assignment, if such beneficiary had not survived the decedent, the proceeds would have gone to the decedent's estate. Lewellyn v. Frick, 268 U.S. 238. Pp. 217-219.

3. The title and possession of the beneficiary were irrevocably fixed by the terms of the policy or assignment, and no interest passed to the beneficiary as the result of the death of the insured. Helvering v. St. Louis Union Trust Co., ante, p. 39; Becker v. St. Louis Union Trust Co., ante, p. 48. P. 219.

4. Matters pertinent to an issue before the court and which were clearly presented to it are to be taken as covered by the decision, though not mentioned in the opinion. P. 218.

76 F.2d 573 reversed.

Certiorari to review a judgment reversing a judgment, 7 F.Supp. 907, in an action to recover the amount of a federal estate tax alleged to have been illegally exacted.

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SUTHERLAND, J., lead opinion

MR. JUSTICE SUTHERLAND delivered the opinion of the Court.

This case involves the construction and constitutionality, as applied, of § 402(f) of the Revenue Act of 1918, which provides that the value of the gross estate of the decedent shall be determined by including the value at the time of his death, of all property

(f) to the extent of the amount receivable by the executor as insurance under policies taken out by...

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