Binney v. Long
299 U.S. 280 (1936)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Binney v. Long, 299 U.S. 280 (1936)

Binney v. Long

No. 77

Argued November 17, 1936

Decided December 14, 1936

299 U.S. 280

Syllabus

1. Massachusetts succession tax (Gen.Laws, Ter. Ed., c. 65, § 1), on transfers made to take effect in possession and enjoyment after the donor's death held consistent with the contract clause of the Federal Constitution and the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, as applied upon the death, intestate, of a life tenant, to remainders then vesting but theretofore contingent, under a trust inter vivos antedating the taxing legislation. Coolidge v. Long,282 U. S. 582, distinguished. P. 299 U. S. 286.

Page 299 U. S. 281

2. In assessing a graduated succession tax, there is no constitutional objection to aggregating various interests passing and accruing to the same beneficiary from or on account of the death of the same decedent, and thus increasing the rate over that which would be applicable if the interests were assessed separately. P. 299 U. S. 288.

3. Under the Massachusetts succession tax law (§ 2, supra), succession to property through the failure of an intestate to exercise a power of appointment under a nontestamentary conveyance of the property by deed of trust, made after September 1, 1907, is not taxed, whereas if the conveyance was made before that date, the succession is not only taxable, but the rate of tax may be greatly increased by aggregating the value of that succession with other interests derived by the transferee by inheritance from the donee of the power. Held repugnant to the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. P. 299 U. S. 288.

4. Under the Massachusetts succession tax law (§ 2, supra), where property passes to a lineal descendant as remainderman under his ancestor's will through the failure of a deceased life tenant to exercise a power of appointment, the property is treated as coming from the donee of the power if the bequest antedated September 1, 1907; otherwise, as coming from the testator; with the result that, in the one case, the rate of tax being graduated, the tax may be increased by aggregating with the bequest the value of other interests inherited by the same beneficiary from the donee of the power, whereas, in the other case there is not such aggregation and increase. Held repugnant to the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. P. 299 U. S. 292.

199 N.E. 528 reversed.

Appeal from a judgment of a Probate Court in Massachusetts entered in pursuance of a rescript from the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth. The judgment was on a petition of trustees and an administrator for abatement of succession taxes.

Page 299 U. S. 282

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