Duquesne Club v. Bell, No. 7877

CourtUnited States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (3rd Circuit)
Writing for the CourtMARIS, JONES, and GOODRICH, Circuit
Citation127 F.2d 363,143 ALR 1377
Decision Date13 April 1942
Docket NumberNo. 7877,7878.
PartiesDUQUESNE CLUB v. BELL. SAME v. DRISCOLL.

143 ALR 1377, 127 F.2d 363 (1942)

DUQUESNE CLUB
v.
BELL.

SAME
v.
DRISCOLL.

Nos. 7877, 7878.

Circuit Court of Appeals, Third Circuit.

Argued March 18, 1942.

Decided April 13, 1942.


127 F.2d 364

Donald J. Marran, Sp. Asst. to Atty. Gen. (Samuel O. Clark, Jr., Asst. Atty. Gen., and J. Louis Monarch, Sp. Asst. to Atty. Gen., Charles F. Uhl, U. S. Atty., and Elliott W. Finkel, Asst. U. S. Atty., both of Pittsburgh, Pa., on the brief), for appellants.

Paul Armitage, of New York City (Robert L. Kirkpatrick, of Pittsburgh, Pa., Edward Holloway, of New York City, and George B. Furman, of Washington, D. C., on the brief), for appellee.

Before MARIS, JONES, and GOODRICH, Circuit Judges.

GOODRICH, Circuit Judge.

The plaintiff, Duquesne Club, seeks to recover tax paid in the sums of $5,340.65 and $58,725.89. The two actions were consolidated and tried together. The total represents amounts collected from its members and paid to the Collector of Internal Revenue as taxes on club dues for the years from September 1, 1935 to July 1, 1938. The club made a claim for refund which was duly filed and rejected. It then brought suit in the Western District of Pennsylvania and the learned trial court entered judgments for the plaintiff. The defendants, the Collector and former Acting Collector of Internal Revenue, bring the cases to this Court on appeal.

The statute which controls in this litigation is that which imposes the club dues tax.1 It provides for a 10% tax on any amount paid as dues or membership fees to any social, athletic, or sporting club or organization if the dues are in excess of $25 a year, and a comparable tax upon initiation fees. The sole question in this case is whether the Duquesne Club is a social club within the meaning of the statute, there being no claim that it is either athletic or sporting. The suggestion was made at argument that the question is one of fact and that the determination thereof by the trial judge was entitled to the same consideration under Federal Rule 52(a), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 28 U.S.C.A. following section

127 F.2d 365
723c, given to other findings of fact. This point is not well taken. Findings or stipulations with regard to the use made of club property, the nature of that property, the number of members, etc., are findings of evidential facts, and we accept them, as the rule provides, unless clearly erroneous. But whether, upon facts so found, plaintiff is a social club within the meaning of the taxing statute is a finding not within the rule and is reviewable by this Court. The term "social" when used in a statute imposing a tax, necessarily becomes a term of art, even though an elusive one. While we make no pretense of being able to give it a definition which will be self-operative to settle other cases,2 we must, nevertheless, determine as best we can whether the facts bring this club within the term used in the statute. The facts we take from the trial court; the conclusion upon them must be our own

The plaintiff contends that it is a business, and not a social, club. One may ask, at the outset, what business? The club, itself, is not engaged in any business. It is incorporated under Pennsylvania law as a corporation not for profit, its purpose, as stated in its charter, being the maintenance of a club for social enjoyment. Here, at once, we have a distinction between the plaintiff and one group of organizations which have litigated their liability under this statute. The Treasury Regulations (Article 35), which in this case are entitled to more than usual consideration because of their long standing, and subsequent reenactments of the taxing statute,3 provide that the purposes and activities of a club and not its name determine its character for the payment of the tax. Thus an organization which starts out as one admittedly not classified as social, such as a commercial club, a motor vehicle owners' association or a society for the study of petroleum chemistry, may become subject to the tax as a social club if it has social features and these become more than merely incidental to "the active furtherance of a different and predominant purpose". Regulations, Article 36. Thus more than one group has lost the freedom from taxation which it...

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20 practice notes
  • United States v. 15.3 ACRES OF LAND, ETC., Civ. A. No. 5051.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • August 15, 1957
    ...law must have a proper legal basis. Busser v. United States, 3 Cir., 1942, 130 F.2d 537, at page 539; Duquesne Club v. Bell, 3 Cir., 1942, 127 F.2d 363, at page 365, 143 A.L.R. 1377. Likewise as to the mixed question of law and fact. Campbell Soup Co. v. Wentz, 3 Cir., 1948, 172 F.2d 80, at......
  • Broad Motors Co. v. Smith, C. A. No. 7658.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • September 28, 1949
    ...S.Ct. 644, 78 L.Ed. 1200; Universal Battery Co. v. U. S., 281 U.S. 580, 583, 50 S.Ct. 422, 74 L.Ed. 1051; Duquesne Club v. Bell, 3 Cir., 127 F.2d 363, 365, 143 A.L.R. 1377; Miller v. Commissioner, 4 Cir., 144 F.2d The taxpayer contends that the information required in the Regulations is imp......
  • ENGINEERS'CLUB OF LOS ANGELES v. United States, Civ. No. 568-58 PH.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • March 20, 1959
    ...166 F.2d 877; Engineer's Club of Philadelphia v. United States, 1942, 42 F.Supp. 182, 95 Ct.Cl. 42; Duquesne Club v. Bell, 3 Cir., 1942, 127 F.2d 363, 143 A.L.R. 1377; Chicago Engineers' Club v. United States, 1935, 9 F.Supp. 680, 80 Ct.Cl. 615; Saginaw Club v. United States, Ct.Cl. 1934, 7......
  • Gould v. United States, Civ. No. 6131
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Colorado
    • September 28, 1960
    ...United States, 5 Cir., 1957, 240 F.2d 159; Turks Head Club v. Broderick, 1 Cir., 1948, 166 F.2d 877; Duquesne Club v. Bell, 3 Cir., 1942, 127 F.2d 363, 143 A.L.R. 1377; Uptown Club of Manhattan, Inc., v. United States, 1949, 83 F.Supp. 823, 113 Ct.Cl. 422; Arkwright Club of City of New York......
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20 cases
  • United States v. 15.3 ACRES OF LAND, ETC., Civ. A. No. 5051.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court of Middle District of Pennsylvania
    • August 15, 1957
    ...law must have a proper legal basis. Busser v. United States, 3 Cir., 1942, 130 F.2d 537, at page 539; Duquesne Club v. Bell, 3 Cir., 1942, 127 F.2d 363, at page 365, 143 A.L.R. 1377. Likewise as to the mixed question of law and fact. Campbell Soup Co. v. Wentz, 3 Cir., 1948, 172 F.2d 80, at......
  • Broad Motors Co. v. Smith, C. A. No. 7658.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 3th Circuit. United States District Court (Eastern District of Pennsylvania)
    • September 28, 1949
    ...S.Ct. 644, 78 L.Ed. 1200; Universal Battery Co. v. U. S., 281 U.S. 580, 583, 50 S.Ct. 422, 74 L.Ed. 1051; Duquesne Club v. Bell, 3 Cir., 127 F.2d 363, 365, 143 A.L.R. 1377; Miller v. Commissioner, 4 Cir., 144 F.2d The taxpayer contends that the information required in the Regulations is imp......
  • ENGINEERS'CLUB OF LOS ANGELES v. United States, Civ. No. 568-58 PH.
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 9th Circuit. United States District Court (Southern District of California)
    • March 20, 1959
    ...166 F.2d 877; Engineer's Club of Philadelphia v. United States, 1942, 42 F.Supp. 182, 95 Ct.Cl. 42; Duquesne Club v. Bell, 3 Cir., 1942, 127 F.2d 363, 143 A.L.R. 1377; Chicago Engineers' Club v. United States, 1935, 9 F.Supp. 680, 80 Ct.Cl. 615; Saginaw Club v. United States, Ct.Cl. 1934, 7......
  • Gould v. United States, Civ. No. 6131
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 10th Circuit. United States District Court of Colorado
    • September 28, 1960
    ...United States, 5 Cir., 1957, 240 F.2d 159; Turks Head Club v. Broderick, 1 Cir., 1948, 166 F.2d 877; Duquesne Club v. Bell, 3 Cir., 1942, 127 F.2d 363, 143 A.L.R. 1377; Uptown Club of Manhattan, Inc., v. United States, 1949, 83 F.Supp. 823, 113 Ct.Cl. 422; Arkwright Club of City of New York......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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