Kieselbach v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 184

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Citation317 U.S. 399,63 S.Ct. 303,87 L.Ed. 358
Docket NumberNo. 184,184
Decision Date04 January 1943

Mr. Harry Friedman, of Washington, D.C., for petitioners.

Mr. Arnold Raum, of Washington, D.C., for respondent.

Mr. Justice REED delivered the opinion of the Court.

This writ of certiorari was granted limited to a single narrow point in the law of income taxes. 317 U.S. 612, 63 S.Ct. 41, 87 L.Ed. —-. The sum in question was received as part of the compensation in a condemnation proceeding instituted by the City of New York. Payment was made several years after the actual taking. The issue concerns the nature of that portion of the payment which is called 'interest' by the Greater New York Charter and which the owner must receive, in addition to the value of the property fixed as of the time of the taking, to produce, when actually paid, the full equivalent of that value. Was this portion a capital gain or ordinary income?

The writ was granted because of conflict upon the point between this case below, Commissioner v. Kieselbach et al., 3 Cir., 127 F.2d 359 and Seaside Improvement Co. v. Commissioner, 2 Cir., 105 F.2d 990.

The taxpayers owned a piece of realty in the City of New York. In December, 1932, that city's Board of Estimate passed a resolution which directed that upon January 3, 1933, the title in fee to a large part of the parcel would vest in the city. The condemnation proceeding, of which the resolution was a part, was pursuant to Sec. 976 of the Greater New York Charter, as amended by Laws 1932, c. 391, § 1, which provides in part as follows: 'Upon the date of the entry of the order granting the application to condemn, or of the filing of the damage map in the proceeding, as the case may be, or upon such subsequent date as may be specified by resolution of said board, the city of New York shall become and be seized in fee of or of the easement, in, over, upon or under, the said real property described in the said order or damage map, as the board of estimate and apportionment may determine, the same to be held, appropriated, converted and used to and for such purpose accordingly. Interest at the legal rate upon the sum or sums to which the owners are justly entitled upon the date of the vesting of title in the city of New York, as aforesaid, from said date to the date of the final decree shall be awarded by the court as part of the compensation to which such owners are entitled.' The city took possession on the date named in the resolution and received all rents thereafter accruing. The Supreme Court of New York entered its final decree in the proceedings on March 31, 1937. It was for $73,246.57 and was stated to be the just compensation which the owners were entitled to receive. Payment was made on May 12, 1937. It has been stipulated that: 'The amount of said payment was computed by adding to the principal amount of $58,000.00, interest thereon as provided by Section 976 of the Greater New York Charter, in the sum of $15,246.57, computed at the rate of 6% per annum from January 3, 1933, to May 12, 1937, or a total of $73,246.57.'1

We accept as a fact that the $58,000, principal amount just referred to, was as petitioners allege, an award to them. We assume it was the value on January 3, 1933, of this property then taken by the city.

Section 22 of the Revenue Act of 1936, c. 690, 49 Stat. 1648, 1657, 26 U.S.C.A.Int.Rev.Acts, page 825, contains the general definition of gross income. It reads as follows:

'(a) General Definition. 'Gross income' includes gains, profits, and income derived from salaries, wages, or compensation for personal service, of whatever kind and in whatever form paid, or from professions, vocations, trades, businesses, commerce, or sales, or dealings in property, whether real or personal, growing out of the ownership or use of or interest in such property; also from interest, rent, dividends, securities, or the transaction of any business carried on for gain or profit, or gains or profits and income derived from any source whatever. * * *'

The taxpayers' basis on the condemned property was around $42,000. In their original return the difference between the basis and the total sum received was treated as capital gain and only a percentage was returned as income pursuant to Sec. 117, 26 U.S.C.A. Int.Rev.Acts, page 873.2 The Commissioner assessed a deficiency on the portion of the award computed as interest on the ground that such portion was ordinary income. The Board of Tax Appeals, 44 B.T.A. 279, reversed the Commissioner and the Circuit Court of Appeals, 127 F.2d 359, in turn, held with the Commissioner.

We agree with the Court of Appeals. The sum paid these taxpayers above the award of $58,000 was paid because of the failure to put the award in the taxpayers' hands on the day, January 3, 1933, when the property was taken. This additional payment was necessary to give the owner the full equivalent of the value of the property at the time it was taken. Whether one calls it interest on the value or payments to meet the constitutional requirement of just compensation, amendment 5, is immaterial. It is income under Sec. 22, paid to the taxpayers in lieu of what they might have earned on the sum found to be the value of the property on the day the property was taken. It is not a capital gain upon an asset sold under Sec. 117. The sale price was the $58,000.3

The property was turned over in January, 1933, by the resolution. This was the sale. Title then passed. The subsequent earnings of the property went to the city. The transaction was as though a purchase money lien at legal interest was retained upon the property. Such interest when paid would, of course, be ordinary income.

From the premises that the value at time of the taking plus compensation for delay in payment equals just compensation, United States v. Klamath and Moadoc Tribes, 304 U.S. 119, 123, 58 S.Ct. 799, 801, 82 L.Ed. 1219,4 and that a good measure of the necessary additional amount is interest 'at a proper rate,' Seaboard Air Line R. Co. v. United States, 261 U.S. 299, 306, 43 S.Ct. 354, 356, 67 L.Ed. 664, petitioner contends that as just compensation requires the payment of these sums for delay in settlement, they are a part of the damages awarded for the property. But these payments are indemnification for delay, not a part of the sale price. While without their payment just compensation would not be received by the vendor, it does not follow that the additional payments are a part of the sale price under Sec. 117(a). The just compensation constitutionally required is not the same thing as the sale price of a capital asset.5

In Seaside Improvement Co. v. Commissioner, 2 Cir., 105 F.2d 990, 994, an opposite conclusion apparently was reached by treating the additional payments as part of the purchase price as well as part of 'just compensation.'6

Petitioners urge that the additional sum paid should be construed as a part of the sale price in analogy to decisions that such sums, when paid in condemnation proceedings by a state, are not interest entitled to exemption under Sec. 22(b)(4), Internal Revenue Code, 26 U.S.C.A. Int.Rev.Code, § 22(b) (4), as 'interest upon * * * the obligations of a State.'7 The cases cited construe the quoted phrase as designed to protect the states' borrowing power. In any event the question here is not whether these sums are interest. They may not be interest and yet be other than part of the sale price.8 If not interest they may be compensation for the delay in payment.

Other contentions are made by the petitioners. It is said that in other situations interest on delayed payments has been treated as part of the principal received and not as normal income.9 By analogy it is urged that the same principle be applied here. The first three cases in the preceding note involved payments of awards in liquidation of claims against Germany allowed by the Mixed Claims Commission. See Settlement of War Claims Act of 1928, 45 Stat. 254, 50 U.S.C.A. Appendix, § 9 et seq. As the aggregate payments did not equal the taxpayers' basis, the decisions refused to consider as income the portions designated as interest on the ground that in liquidation the investment first must be restored before income is realized. N. V. Koninklijke Hollandische Lloyd v. Commissioner and Consorzio Veneziano, etc., v. Commissioner applied the rule that payment for deferred compensation was not interest under Sec. 119(a)10 of the Revenue Act of 1932 or 1928, 26 U.S.C.A. Int.Rev.Acts, pages 526, 390. These decisions obviously are not in point on the question whether the additional payments in the present case are part of the sale price or other...

To continue reading

Request your trial
104 cases
  • Kovacs v. Comm'r of Internal Revenue
    • United States
    • U.S. Tax Court
    • 24 February 1993
    ...filed a timely petition with this Court. Section 61(a)(4) provides that gross income includes “interest”. See Kieselbach v. Commissioner, 317 U.S. 399, 403–404 (1943); Tiefenbrunn v. Commissioner, 74 T.C. 1566, 1572 (1980); Smith v. Commissioner, 59 T.C. 107, 111–113 (1972); Wheeler v. Comm......
  • Spangler v. CIR
    • United States
    • U.S. Court of Appeals — Ninth Circuit
    • 16 October 1963
    ...that this is a wrong which the court can correct when determining plaintiff's tax liability. 5 Kieselbach v. Commissioner, 317 U.S. 399, 403-405, 64 S.Ct. 41, 87 L.Ed. 497 (1943); Filippini v. United States, 318 F.2d 841, 844 n. 2 (9th Cir., 1963), affirming 200 F.Supp. 286, 289 (N.D.Cal. 1......
  • Eggleston v. State of Colo.
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Colorado
    • 30 May 1986
    ... ... Atty. Gen., Denver, Colo., for State of Colo. Dept. of Revenue ...         James Peters, James Sell, Dist. Attys., Littleton, ... the United States, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA); and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Each 636 F. Supp. 1315 of these parties claims ... ...
  • De Bruhl v. State Highway and Public Works Commission, 98
    • United States
    • North Carolina Supreme Court
    • 26 February 1958
    ... ... Kieselbach v. Commissioner of Int. Revenue, 317 U.S. 399, 63 S.Ct. 303, 87 L.Ed ... ...
  • Request a trial to view additional results

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT