Calvert v. Hall

Decision Date02 October 1974
Docket NumberNo. 12167,12167
Citation514 S.W.2d 778
PartiesRobert S. CALVERT, Comptroller of Public Accounts, et al., Appellants, v. Nathan HALL et ux., Appellees.
CourtTexas Court of Appeals

John L. Hill, Atty. Gen. of Texas, Marietta McGregor Payne, Asst. Atty. Gen., Austin, for appellants.

Sterling Holloway, Holloway & Holloway, Emmett Shelton, Sr., Shelton & Shelton, Austin, Wallace T. Barber, San Marcos, for appellees.

O'QUINN, Justice.

This appeal is from an order of the district court of Hays County overruling the plea of privilege and the amended plea to the jurisdiction filed by Robert S. Calvert, Comptroller of Public Accounts for the State of Texas, one of the defendants below.

Nathan Hall and wife, Billie Barbara Hall, brought this suit in Hays County against the Comptroller and State Bank and Trust Company of San Marcos, administrator of the estate of Barbara L. Everett, deceased. By their suit Hall and wife sought to have set aside and held void and inheritance tax which the Comptroller had assessed against them, or alternatively to have the amount of the tax reduced and the tax burden reallocated to the estate. Plaintiffs instituted suit under claimed authority of Article 14.11(C)(4) (Title 122A, Taxation-General, Vernon's Anno. Civ.Sts.), which is general provides for appeals from valuation placed upon property by the Comptroller for inheritance tax purposes.

The Comptroller brings two points of error. Under the first point contention is made that suit was instituted to determine inheritance tax liability and Article 14.11(C)(4), upon which plaintiffs below relied to sue in Hays County, relates solely to appeals from property valuations made for inheritance tax purposes. Under the second point the Comptroller urges that the plea to the jurisdiction should have been sustained becuase the suit was brought to determine the liability of plaintiffs for inheritance taxes and such suits must be instituted pursuant to provisions of Articles 7057b (Title 122, Taxation, Vernon's Ann.Civ.St.) and Article 1.05 (Title 122A, Taxation-General, V.A.C.S.), which statutes provide that suit shall be brought 'in any court of competent jurisdiction in Travis County, Texas, and none other.'

The trial court overruled both the plea of privilege and the plea to the jurisdiction. We will reverse the judgment of the trial court and remand the case to the district court with instructions to transfer the cause to a district court in Travis County.

The Comptroller levied the disputed inheritance tax in this case under provision of Article 14.01 making subject to inheritance tax all property passing '. . . by deed, grant, sale, or gift made or intended to take effect in possession or enjoyment after the death of the grantor or donor . . .' The 812.5 acres of land here involved came into ownership of the Halls through a gift from Barbara L. Everett, who died intestate July 20, 1965. (See opinion of this Court in Patterson v. Hall, 439 S.W.2d 140, writ ref. n.r.e., 1969). The tract of 812.5 acres initially was valued for inheritance tax purposes at $180 per acre, and at this valuation the tax due was determined to be $8,293.75.

After the initial valuation by the Comptroller, the Halls requested a redetermination hearing as provided for under Article 1.032, Title 122A, Tax.-Gen. In the decision on redetermination the hearing examiner made specific findings and recommendations that the tract of 812.5 acres as a parol gift of realty was properly included in the Everett estate since partial possession and enjoyment by the Halls as donees was delayed until the donor's death, and further that the Federal valuation of $180 per acre should be accepted in accordance with Article 14.11(C)(2). The examiner recommended that the determination be made final on the basis of $8,293.75 additional tax, plus interest of $3,415.43, in the total sum of $11,709.18 tax and interest.

The Comptroller approved and adopted the recommendations of the examiner on August 8, 1973, and the Halls notified the Comptroller on August 22, 1973 'that appeal will be taken for trial de novo in the 22nd District Court of Hays County.' The Halls filed their petition in this lawsuit the following day in Hays County.

We look to plaintiffs' petition to determine the nature of this lawsuit and the essential controversy to be resolved by final judgment. Plaintiffs filed suit in Hays County on the theory that under Article 14.11(C)(4) they were entitled to a trial De novo in that county on the question of valuation. The true controversy is not valuation, standing alone, but whether the Comptroller properly levied the tax on plaintiffs' 812.5 acres of land which they acquired by gift from Barbara L. Everett. As already observed, the Comptroller levied the tax under provisions of Article 14.01 which makes subject to inheritance tax all property 'which shall pass absolutely . . . by deed, grant, sale, or Gift made or intended To take effect in possession or enjoyment after the death of the grantor or Donor.' (Emphasis added) (Art. 14.01; Acts 1959, 56th Leg., 3rd C.S., p. 187, ch. 1. For identical language, see Art. 14.01(A), as amended by Acts 1971, 62nd Leg., p. 2943, ch. 974, Sec. 1, eff. Aug. 30, 1971.)

Plaintiffs alleged in their petition:

(1) 'This is a suit brought as an appeal from an order of . . . (the) Comptroller, in relation to the Estate of Barbara L. Everett, Deceased, by which order said Defendant Purported to include as a portion of the gross estate of said decedent for inheritance-tax purposes Lands belonging to the Plaintiffs . . .' (Emphasis added) (Par. III)

(2) That in October of 1972 the Comptroller assessed an inheritance tax '. . . and Also included in the gross estate . . . an assessment on the 812.5 acres belonging to Plaintiffs . . .' and thereafter 'Plaintiffs promptly . . . requested a redetermination hearing of the claimed assessment, pursuant to Article 1.032 . . .' That after a hearing the Comptroller issued his Order which '. . . was based upon a contention and conclusion that the right of possession and employment of plaintiffs of the land in question was postponed until or took effect after the death of Barbara L. Everett .' (Emphasis added) (Pars. VIII, IX)

(3) 'The conclusion by the Comptroller . . . that the Plaintiffs' possession and enjoyment of the right of possession of the 812.5 acres of land owned by them in fee simple was delayed until after Mrs. Everett's death, was and is directly contrary to the finding of the jury . . . and the judgment of . . . (district court) to the effect that Plaintiffs took possession of the land in question long prior to Mrs. Everett's death. . . . The judgment of the (Court of Civil Appeals, 439 S.W.2d 140, writ ref. n.r.e.) ....

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3 cases
  • Wichita County v. Hart
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals
    • 12 October 1994
    ...Terminal R.R. Ass'n v. Harlow, 745 S.W.2d 320 (Tex.1988)); 72 Tex.Jur.3d Venue § 10 (1990).6 See, e.g., Calvert v. Hall, 514 S.W.2d 778, 779 (Tex.Civ.App.--Austin 1974, writ dism'd) (holding jurisdictional Texas Revised Civil Statutes Annotated articles 7057b and 1.05, which provided that s......
  • Rhodes v. City of Austin
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals
    • 12 July 1979
    ...810; Alpha Petroleum Co. v. Terrell, 122 Tex. 257, 59 S.W.2d 364, 367 (Tex.Com.App.1933, opinion adopted); Calvert v. Hall, 514 S.W.2d 778, 781 (Tex.Civ.App. Austin 1974, writ dism'd); Texas Employers' Insurance Ass'n v. Ellis, 543 S.W.2d 397, 399 (Tex.Civ.App. El Paso 1976, no writ); Colvi......
  • Texas Alcoholic Beverage Com'n v. Williams, 08-87-00131-CV
    • United States
    • Texas Court of Appeals
    • 10 February 1988
    ...vests the courts of Travis County with the exclusive and original jurisdiction of suits of this nature. Calvert v. Hall, 514 S.W.2d 778 (Tex.Civ.App.--Austin 1974, writ dism'd). The trial court had jurisdiction to determine matters such as if a tax was assessed, if the permit was summarily ......

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