United States v. Field - 255 U.S. 257 (1921)


U.S. Supreme Court

United States v. Field, 255 U.S. 257 (1921)

United States v. Field

No. 442

Argued December 9, 1920

Decided February 28, 1921

255 U.S. 257

Syllabus

1. The provisions of laws imposing taxes are not to be extended by implication. P. 255 U. S. 262.

2. The Revenue Act of 1916, § 202, c. 463, 39 Stat. 777, did not impose an estate tax upon property passing under a testamentary execution of a general power of appointment. Id.

3. To be taxable under clause (a) of § 202 of the act, the estate must be (1) an interest of the decedent at the time of his death, (2) which, after his death, is subject to the payment of the charges against his estate and the expenses of administration, and (3) is subject to distribution as part of his estate, and these conditions are expressed conjunctively, and cannot be construed as disjunctive. Id.

4. A general power of appointment by will does not, of itself, vest any estate in the donee of the power. P. 255 U. S. 263.

5. In equity, property passing under such a power may be treated as assets of the donee of the power, distributable to his creditors, but only when the power has been executed, and executed in favor of a volunteer, and then only to the extent to which the donee's own estate is insufficient to pay his debts, and his executor, if he take the appointed property at all, takes not as executor, but as representative of the creditors. Id.

6. In any event, the property subject to such a power is not subject to distribution as part of the estate of the donee. P. 255 U. S. 264.

7. Clause(b) of § 202 of the act, describing a transfer of an interest in the decedent's own property in his lifetime, intended to take effect at or after his death, does not cover a transfer by testamentary execution of a power of appointment over property not his own. Id.

8. The fact that, in the later Act of February 24, 1919, property passing under a general power of appointment executed by the deceased was expressly included in the valuation of his estate for taxation shows at least a legislative doubt whether the Act of 1916 included such property. P. 255 U. S. 265.

55 Ct.Clms. 430 affirmed.

Page 255 U. S. 258

The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 255 U. S. 259



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