Howard v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue

Decision Date11 December 1956
Docket NumberNo. 11807-11813.,11807-11813.
Citation238 F.2d 943
PartiesHubert E. HOWARD et al., Petitioners, v. COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE, Respondent.
CourtU.S. Court of Appeals — Seventh Circuit

William P. Sutter, Chicago, Ill., Samuel H. Horne, Washington, D. C., Harry B. Sutter, Peter L. Wentz, Chicago, Ill., Hopkins, Sutter, Owen, Mulroy & Wentz, Chicago, Ill., of counsel, for petitioners.

Charles K. Rice, Asst. Atty. Gen., Grant W. Wiprud, Atty., Tax Division, U. S. Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., Lee A. Jackson, Harry Baum, Dept. of Justice, Washington, D. C., for respondent.

Before DUFFY, Chief Judge, and MAJOR and LINDLEY, Circuit Judges.

LINDLEY, Circuit Judge.

Petitioners seek review of the determination of the Tax Court that a certain transaction in June 1950, wherein petitioners exchanged common stock in Binkley Coal Company solely for voting common stock of Truax-Traer Coal Company constituted a taxable exchange under § 112(b) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1939, 26 U.S.C.A. § 112(b) (3).

Petitioners were stockholders in Binkley, an Illinois corporation engaged in the wholesale purchase and sale of coal, which had 4,615 shares of common stock outstanding. Binkley in turn, owned a majority (12,825 shares) of the common stock of Pyramid Coal Corporation, an Illinois corporation engaged in production and sale of coal. Its outstanding stock consisted of 20,000 shares of $100 par value common. The remaining 7,175 shares were owned by various individuals including certain of petitioners.

In 1950 Truax-Traer Coal Company, a corporation engaged in production, distribution and sale of coal, desiring to acquire Binkley and Pyramid, offered to take over the stock of the two companies on the following basis: (1) 3,700 shares of Binkley in exchange for 118,400 shares of Truax common stock; (2) 915 shares of Binkley at a price of $400 per share payable in cash; (3) 7,715 shares of Pyramid (representing all the shares not owned by Binkley) at $50 per share, payable in cash. The offer was accepted, and the terms of the contract were complied with, except that only 914 shares of Binkley were exchanged for cash, for the reason that one share was held by that corporation as Treasury stock.

The 3,700 shares of Binkley stock acquired solely in exchange for voting stock of Truax-Traer constituted 80.19% of the 4,614 total outstanding shares of Binkley. Each petitioner herein received only Truax-Traer stock for his Binkley stock. In their respective income tax returns for 1950, petitioners treated the transaction as a nontaxable exchange. In August 1950, petitioners Hubert E. Howard and Helen B. Howard sold some of the Truax-Traer stock which they had received in the exchange and reported the sale as a long-term capital gain. The Commissioner determined that the gain realized on the exchange should be recognized under the general rule of § 112(a) of the Code. On the sale by these petitioners, he employed a new basic holding period on the Truax-Traer stock, beginning with the effective date of the exchange and treated their gain as a short-term capital gain. The Tax Court sustained the Commissioner, concluding that although the 80% requirement of § 112(g) (1) (B) had been satisfied, the exchange was not "solely" for voting stock of the transferee corporation, and, therefore, did not satisfy the reorganization requirement of § 112 (b) (3).

In determining whether the gain at the time of the exchange was proper, it is necessary to consider somewhat in detail the pertinent statutory provisions. § 112(a) establishes the general rule that upon a sale or exchange the entire gain or loss is to be recognized except as otherwise provided by that section. § 112 (b) defines certain exceptions. Specifically, § 112(b) (3), applying to "Stock for stock on reorganization", provides that "No gain or loss shall be recognized if stock or securities in a corporation a party to a reorganization are, in pursuance of the plan of reorganization, exchanged solely for stock or securities in such corporation or in another corporation a party to the reorganization." In determining what constitutes a "reorganization" within the meaning of § 112 (b) (3), it is necessary to look to § 112 (g) (1) (B), which defines a stock for stock reorganization as "the acquisition by one corporation, in exchange solely for all or a part of its voting stock, of at least 80 per centum of the voting stock and at least 80 per centum of the total number of shares of all other classes of stock of another corporation." (Emphasis supplied.)

The primary problem confronting us, then, is the taxable effect of the cash or "boot" transferred by Truax-Traer in its acquisition of 19.81% of the stock of Binkley. Petitioners urge that the "solely for voting stock" requirement of § 112(g) (1) (B) merely refers to the 80% provision and is not in itself an independent requisite, regardless of the amount of stock acquired. In the alternative, petitioners urge that if "solely" is a sina que non to the reorganization definition, then, by that very fact, § 112 (c) (1), the so-called "boot" provision, is applicable.

In considering petitioners' first contention, assuming the 80% requirement is met, the question to be answered, is whether, within the meaning of § 112 (b) (3), a gain is to be recognized merely because the acquiring corporation gives in exchange, consideration in addition to its own voting stock. The Commissioner contends that § 112(g) (1) (B) imposes two independent requirements: (1) a minimum of 80% of the voting stock must be acquired; and, (2) the exchange must be solely for the voting stock of the acquiring corporation and for no other or additional consideration.

Considering § 112(g) (1) (B) together with the regulations, we concede that if read literally, there is persuasion in petitioners' argument. Reg. 111, Sec. 29.112 (g)-2, in effect in 1950, provides: "In order to qualify as a `reorganization' under section 112(g) (1) (B), the acquisition by the acquiring corporation of the required amount of the stock of the other corporation must be in exchange solely for all or a part of the voting stock of the acquiring corporation. If for example Corporation X exchanges non-voting preferred stock or bonds in addition to all or a part of its voting stock in the acquisition of the required amount of stock of Corporation Y, the transaction is not a `reorganization' under section 112(g) (1) (B)." The reference to the "required amount" could possibly be construed to mean that the qualification of "solely for voting stock" refers only to the "required amount", namely 80%.

In order to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion, it is helpful to examine the legislative history of this section. § 112 (g) (1) (B) of the Revenue Act of 1934 was the predecessor of § 112(g) (1) (B) of the 1939 Code. It defined a reorganization thus: "the acquisition by one corporation in exchange solely for all or a part of its voting stock, of at least 80 per centum of the voting stock and at least 80 per centum of the total number of shares of all other classes of stock of another corporation, * * * or of substantially all the properties of another corporation * * *." This provision was proposed by the Senate and enacted into law without change. Insofar as this definition related to a stock for stock exchange it contained the same requisites found in § 112(g) (1) (B) of the 1939 Code. It is important to note that, included in this very section of the 1934 Act, is the provision relating to the exchange of voting stock for assets, which was the predecessor of § 112(g) (1) (C) of the 1939 Code. In examining the Senate Report (S.Rep. No. 558, 73d Cong., 2d Sess., pp. 16 and 17 (1939-1 Cum.Bull. (Part 2) 586, 598-599)), it should be observed that the purpose of this reorganization provision was to permit changes in corporation organization which were primarily changes in form and similar to statutory mergers and consolidations, due to the fact that "Not all of the States have adopted statutes providing for mergers or consolidations; and, moreover, a corporation of one State can not ordinarily merge with a corporation of another State * * * The committee believes that these transactions, when carried out as prescribed in this amendment, are in themselves sufficiently similar to mergers and consolidations as to be entitled to similar treatment." Concerning the technical requirements of proposed § 112(g) (1) (B), the Senate Committee had this to say: "It will be noted that the proposed amendment requires that (1) the acquiring corporation must obtain at least 80 percent of the voting stock * * * of the other corporation, * * * and (2) the acquisition, whether of stock or of substantially all the properties, must be in exchange solely for the voting stock of the acquiring corporation." (Emphasis supplied.) True, this statement by the Senate Committee, of itself, does not dispose of the issue confronting us. One could still contend that the "acquisition * * * solely for the voting stock" refers merely to the 80% requirement. Nevertheless, the Senate Report indicates quite obviously that, with reference to the "solely" requirement, no distinction was to be made between a stock for stock and a stock for assets transaction. The language "whether of stock or of substantially all the properties" seems conclusive on that point.

Based on the conclusion that, insofar as the "solely" requirement is concerned, the two types of transactions should be treated the same, the opinion in the leading case of Helvering v. Southwest Consolidated Corp., 315 U.S. 194, 62 S.Ct. 546, 86 L.Ed. 789, is decisive of the particular problem now under consideration. There, a new corporation acquired all of the assets of an insolvent corporation from its foreclosing bondholders, in exchange for voting stock, stock warrants and cash. The "boot" transferred was a very small per cent of the total value of the properties of the...

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  • Heverly v. C. I. R.
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    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Third Circuit
    • March 25, 1980
    ...39 T.C. 393 (1962), rev'd, 331 F.2d 321 (5th Cir. 1964), and Howard v. Commissioner, 24 T.C. 792 (1955), rev'd on other grounds, 238 F.2d 943 (7th Cir. 1956). More specifically, "(i)n Mills and Turnbow, each shareholder whose stock was being acquired got cash." 71 T.C. at 736. In addition, ......
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  • Chapman v. C. I. R.
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    ...the statute, effectively overruling its own prior decision in Howard v. Commissioner, 24 T.C. 792 (1955), rev'd on other grounds, 238 F.2d 943 (7th Cir. 1956). 14 The plurality opinion stated its "narrow" holding as "We hold that where, as is the case herein, 80 percent or more of the stock......
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    ...given by the transferee corporation for additional stock in excess of the minimum requirement of 80 per cent.13 The transaction at issue in Howard involved the exchange of 81.19 percent of all outstanding Binkley Company stock in exchange for Truax-Traer Company voting stock, and the paymen......
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