United States v. Jones - 236 U.S. 106 (1915)
U.S. Supreme Court
United States v. Jones, 236 U.S. 106 (1915)
United States v. Jones
Argued December 9, 1914
Decided January 25, 1915
236 U.S. 106
The tax imposed by the War Revenue Act of 1898 was purely a succession tax. It was not laid upon the entire estate, but was a charge upon the transmission of personal property from a deceased owner to legatees or distributees.
Personal property does not pass directly from a decedent to legatees or distributees, but goes primarily to the executor or administrator who passes to them the residue after settlement of the estate.
Until in due course of the administration of an estate it has been ascertained that a surplus remains, it cannot be said that the legatees or distributees are certainly entitled to receive or enjoy any part of the property, and so held as to an estate of one dying prior to July 1, 1902, that, until such fact was ascertained the interests of legatees and distributees were not absolute, but were contingent within the meaning of § 29 of the War Revenue Act of 1898 and of § 3 of the Refunding Act of June 27, 1902. Vanderbilt v. Eidman, 196 U. S. 480; Hertz v. Woodman, 218 U. S. 205, distinguished.
49 Ct.Cl. 408 affirmed.
The facts, which involve the construction of the War Revenue Act of 1898 and the subsequent Acts relating thereto, and their application to inheritances, are stated in the opinion.