Moore v. Ruckgaber
184 U.S. 593 (1902)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Moore v. Ruckgaber, 184 U.S. 593 (1902)

Moore v. Ruckgaber

No. 296

Argued November 21, 1901

Decided March 17, 1902

184 U.S. 593

Syllabus

The War Tax Law of 1898 does not apply to intangible personal property located in this country and passing by the will of an alien domiciled abroad, to a daughter who is also an alien domiciled abroad, although the will was executed in this country during a temporary sojourn here.

As the tax is not imposed upon the property, but upon the succession to the property, the law of the country in which the succession takes place determines the liability to taxation.

The law does not apply to property passing under a will, if it would not apply in case the testator had died intestate, and as in this case the property would have passed under the intestate laws of France, the succession is not subject to a tax here, although the will was executed in this country.

This was also an action brought in the Circuit Court for the Southern District of New York by Ruckgaber, as executor of the last will and testament of Louisa Augusta Ripley-Pinede, against the collector of internal revenue to recover an inheritance tax paid to the defendant upon certain personal property in the City of New York.

The material facts, as set forth in the certificate, are briefly as follows:

The testatrix, Louisa Augusta Ripley-Pinede, died at Zurich, Switzerland, on September 25, 1898, being at that time a nonresident of the United States and having, for at least eight years immediately preceding her death, been domiciled in, and a permanent resident of, the Republic of France. She left a will dated November 6, 1890, which was made in New York and in conformity to the laws of that state, where the testatrix was then sojourning, whereby she bequeathed all her personal property in the United States to her daughter, Carmelia von Groll, who was then, and is now, also a nonresident of the United States, domiciled in Germany. Said will was probated

Page 184 U. S. 594

in the Surrogate's Court of Kings County, New York, on February 17, 1899, and letters testamentary were thereupon issued to the defendant in error, a resident of said county and state, who alone qualified as executor.

At the time of her death, the testatrix owned a claim in account current against one Carl Goepel and one Max Ruckgaber, Jr., constituting the firm of Schulz & Ruckgaber, both of whom resided in the County of Kings and State of New York. She was also the owner of a share of stock in the Tribune Association, a New York corporation. The testatrix was also the owner of bonds and coupons of divers American corporations hereinafter particularly described. Said chose in action, stock, bonds, and certificate constituted all the personal property of every kind in the United States of America referred to in the said will. The value of the said property of the testatrix at the date of her death, September 25, 1898, as fixed and determined by appraisers duly appointed, was $105,670.70. On or about the 15th day of June, 1899, upon the written demand of the collector of internal revenue for the First District of New York, and under protest, the executor did make and render in duplicate to the said collector a return of legacies arising from personal property of every kind whatsoever, being in charge or trust of said executor, passing from Louisa Augusta Ripley-Pinede to her said daughter by her will as aforesaid.

The following questions of law which arose out of the foregoing facts were certified to this Court:

"1. Can the said personal property of the nonresident testatrix, Louisa Augusta Ripley-Pinede, actually located within the United States at the time of her death, September 25, 1898, be deemed to have a situs in the United States for the purpose of levying a tax or duty upon the transmission or receipt thereof under sections 29, 30, and 31 of the Act of Congress entitled 'An Act to Provide Ways and Means to Meet War Expenditures, and for Other Purposes,' approved June 13, 1898?"

"2. Was the transmission or receipt of the said personal property of the nonresident testatrix, Louisa Augusta Ripley-Pinede, which was actually located in the United States at the time of her death, September 25, 1898, subject to taxation

Page 184 U. S. 595

under sections 29, 30, and 31 of the Act of Congress entitled 'An Act to Provide Ways and Means to Meet War Expenditures, and for Other Purposes,' approved June 13, 1898?"

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