Corliss v. Bowers, No. 344

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Writing for the CourtHOLMES
Citation74 L.Ed. 916,50 S.Ct. 336,281 U.S. 376
PartiesCORLISS v. BOWERS, Collector of Internal Revenue
Docket NumberNo. 344
Decision Date28 April 1930

281 U.S. 376
50 S.Ct. 336
74 L.Ed. 916
CORLISS

v.

BOWERS, Collector of Internal Revenue.

No. 344.
Argued April 15, 16, 1930.
Decided April 28, 1930.

Mr. Joseph M. Hartfield, of New York City, for petitioner.

The Attorney General and Mr. Charles E. Hughes, Jr., Sol. Gen., of Washington, D. C., for respondent.

Page 377

Mr. Justice HOLMES delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a suit to recover the amount of an income tax paid by the plaintiff, the petitioner, under the Revenue Act of 1924, June 2, 1924, c. 234, § 219(g) (h), 43 Stat. 253, 277 (U. S. C. tit. 26, § 960 (26 USCA § 960, note)). The complaint was dismissed by the District Court, 30 F.(2d) 135, and the judgment was affirmed by the Circuit Court of Appeals, 34 F.(2d) 656. A writ of certiorari was granted by this Court.

The question raised by the petitioner is whether the above section of the Revenue Act can be applied constitutionally to him upon the following facts. In 1922 he transferred the fund from which arose the income in respect of which the petitioner was taxed, to trustees, in trust to pay the income to his wife for life with remainder over to their children. By the instrument creating the trust the petition reserved power 'to modify or alter in any manner, or revoke in whole or in part, this indenture and the trusts then existing, and the estates and interests in property hereby created,' etc. It is not necessary to quote more words because there can be no doubt that the petitioner fully reserved the power at any moment to abolish or change the trust at his will. The statute referred to provides that 'where the grantor of a trust has, at any time during the taxable year, * * * the power to revest in himself title to any part of the corpus of the trust, then the income of such part of the trust for such taxable year shall be included in computing the net income of the grantor.' Section 219(g) with other similar provisions as to income in section 219(h). There can be no doubt either that the statute purports to tax the plaintiff in this case. But the net income for 1924 was paid over to the petitioner's wife and the petitioner's argument is that however it might have been in different circumstances

Page 378

the income never was his and he cannot be taxed for it. The legal estate was in the trustee and the quitable interest in the wife.

But taxation is not so much concerned with the refinements of title as it is with actual command over the property...

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629 practice notes
  • Helvering v. Stuart, Nos. 49 and 48
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • November 16, 1942
    ...75, 131 A.L.R. 655. In none of the cases had the taxpayer really disposed of the res which produced the income. In Corliss v. Bowers, 281 U.S. 376, 50 S.Ct. 336, 74 L.Ed. 916, he had disposed of the res but with a power to revoke at any moment. This right to realize income by revocation at ......
  • Farmers Cooperative Co. v. Birmingham, Civ. No. 537.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • October 8, 1949
    ...1949, 337 U.S. 733, 69 S.Ct. 1210; Lusthaus v. Commissioner, 1946, 327 U.S. 293, 66 S.Ct. 539, 90 L.Ed. 679; Corliss v. Bowers, 1930, 281 U.S. 376, 50 S.Ct. 336, 74 L.Ed. 916; Helvering v. Clifford, 1940, 309 U.S. 331, 60 S.Ct. 554, 84 L.Ed. 788, and Helvering v. Gordon, 8 Cir., 1937, 87 F.......
  • Apt v. Birmingham, Civ. No. 424.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • March 25, 1950
    ...1932, 285 U.S. 136, 52 S.Ct. 345, 76 L.Ed. 665 (wife not taxable on a portion of husband's partnership income); Corliss v. Bowers, 1930, 281 U.S. 376, 50 S.Ct. 336, 74 L.Ed. 916 (husband taxable on income paid to wife under revocable trust agreement). Cf. Blair v. Commissioner, 1937, 300 U.......
  • Doll v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, No. 12773.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • May 11, 1945
    ...119, 61 S.Ct. 144, 85 L.Ed. 75, 131 A.L.R. 655; Helvering v. Clifford, 309 U.S. 331, 335, 60 S.Ct. 554, 84 L.Ed. 788; Corliss v. Bowers, 281 U.S. 376, 378, 50 S.Ct. 336, 74 L.Ed. 916) or benefits to him (Helvering v. Horst, 311 U.S. 112, 119, 61 S.Ct. 144, 85 L.Ed. 75, 131 A.L.R. 655; Dougl......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
626 cases
  • Helvering v. Stuart, Nos. 49 and 48
    • United States
    • United States Supreme Court
    • November 16, 1942
    ...75, 131 A.L.R. 655. In none of the cases had the taxpayer really disposed of the res which produced the income. In Corliss v. Bowers, 281 U.S. 376, 50 S.Ct. 336, 74 L.Ed. 916, he had disposed of the res but with a power to revoke at any moment. This right to realize income by revocation at ......
  • Farmers Cooperative Co. v. Birmingham, Civ. No. 537.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • October 8, 1949
    ...1949, 337 U.S. 733, 69 S.Ct. 1210; Lusthaus v. Commissioner, 1946, 327 U.S. 293, 66 S.Ct. 539, 90 L.Ed. 679; Corliss v. Bowers, 1930, 281 U.S. 376, 50 S.Ct. 336, 74 L.Ed. 916; Helvering v. Clifford, 1940, 309 U.S. 331, 60 S.Ct. 554, 84 L.Ed. 788, and Helvering v. Gordon, 8 Cir., 1937, 87 F.......
  • Apt v. Birmingham, Civ. No. 424.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 8th Circuit. Northern District of Iowa
    • March 25, 1950
    ...1932, 285 U.S. 136, 52 S.Ct. 345, 76 L.Ed. 665 (wife not taxable on a portion of husband's partnership income); Corliss v. Bowers, 1930, 281 U.S. 376, 50 S.Ct. 336, 74 L.Ed. 916 (husband taxable on income paid to wife under revocable trust agreement). Cf. Blair v. Commissioner, 1937, 300 U.......
  • Doll v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, No. 12773.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (8th Circuit)
    • May 11, 1945
    ...119, 61 S.Ct. 144, 85 L.Ed. 75, 131 A.L.R. 655; Helvering v. Clifford, 309 U.S. 331, 335, 60 S.Ct. 554, 84 L.Ed. 788; Corliss v. Bowers, 281 U.S. 376, 378, 50 S.Ct. 336, 74 L.Ed. 916) or benefits to him (Helvering v. Horst, 311 U.S. 112, 119, 61 S.Ct. 144, 85 L.Ed. 75, 131 A.L.R. 655; Dougl......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
2 firm's commentaries
  • The Economic Substance Doctrine: A U.S. Anti-Abuse Rule
    • United States
    • Mondaq United States
    • May 5, 2022
    ...(1945)) Taxation is not so much concerned with refinements of title as it is with actual command over the property. (Corliss v. Bowers, 281 U.S. 376, 378 (1930); see also Commr. v. P. G. Lake, Inc., 356 U.S. 260 (1958); Helvering v. Clifford, 309 U.S. 331 (1940); Griffiths v. Commr., 308 U.......
  • The Doctrine Of Constructive Receipt
    • United States
    • Mondaq United States
    • April 29, 2022
    ...that item of income will be paid. The income tax principle was first expressed by the Supreme Court in the 1930 case of Corliss v. Bowers, 281 U.S. 376 (1930), where Justice Holmes stated that "[i]ncome that is subject to a man's unfettered command and that he is free to enjoy at his own op......
1 books & journal articles
  • The grantor trust rules: An exploited mismatch.
    • United States
    • The Tax Adviser Vol. 52 Nbr. 11, November 2021
    • November 1, 2021
    ...Trusts Have a Shaky Legal Foundation," at 7. (27) Burnet, 289 U.S. at 676. (28) Revenue Act of 1924, P.L. 68-176. (29) Corliss v. Bowers, 281 U.S. 376, 378 (1930) (where the taxpayer created a trust providing income to his wife for life, with the remainder to their children. Instead of maki......

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