A beneficiary entitled only to the income for life of a fund
controlled and possessed by trustees in another state where the
trust was created cannot be taxed on the corpus of the fund by the
state of his domicile in addition to a tax upon the income. P.
277 U. S.
Certiorari, 274 U.S. 734, to a judgment of the Supreme Court of
Appeals of Virginia which, in effect, sustained a judgment of the
Corporation Court of Norfolk upholding tax assessments made against
the petitioner, a citizen of Virginia.
Page 277 U. S. 28
MR. JUSTICE HOLMES delivered the opinion of the Court.
The petitioner applied in the local form of proceeding for the
correction of two assessments for taxation alleged to be erroneous
and contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment. The court of first
instance, the Corporation Court of the City of Norfolk, upheld both
assessments as valid, and the Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia
rejected a petition for a writ of error on the ground that the
judgment below was plainly right. A writ of certiorari was granted
by this Court. 247 U.S. 734.
The assessments complained of were for city and state taxes upon
the corpus of a trust fund created by the will of a citizen of
Maryland resident in Baltimore at the time of her death. This will
bequeathed to the Safe Deposit & Trust Company of Baltimore
$80,000 in trust to pay the income to the petitioner for life, then
to her daughters for their lives, and, upon the death of the last
survivor, to divide the principal between the descendants then
living of the daughters per stirpes. The will was proved in
Maryland, and in 1914 was admitted to probate in the Corporation
Court of Norfolk as a foreign will. The property held in trust has
remained in Maryland, and no part of it is or ever has been in
The petitioner has paid without question a tax upon the income
received by her. But the doctrine contended for now is that the
petitioner is chargeable as if she owned the whole. No doubt, in
the case of tangible property
Page 277 U. S. 29
lying within the state and subject to a paramount lien for
taxes, the occupant actually using it may be made personally
liable. Illinois Central R. Co. v. Kentucky, 218 U.
, 218 U. S. 562
Carstairs v. Cochran, 193 U. S. 10
193 U. S. 16
But here, the property is not within the state, does not belong to
the petitioner, and is not within her possession or control. The
assessment is a bare proposition to make the petitioner pay upon an
interest to which she is a stranger. This cannot be done. See
Wachovia Bank & Trust Co. v. Doughton, 272 U.
, 272 U. S.