Burnet v. Guggenheim,
288 U.S. 280 (1933)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Burnet v. Guggenheim, 288 U.S. 280 (1933)

Burnet v. Guggenheim

No. 283

Argued January 11, 1933

Decided February 6, 1933

288 U.S. 280


1. Under the Revenue Act of 1924, §§ 319, 320, taxing transfers by gift, a transfer of title by deed of trust reserving power of revocation in the grantor was not taxable while that power existed, but became so when it was surrendered. P. 288 U. S. 283.

2. The provision was not aimed at every transfer of the legal title without consideration, but at transfers of title that have the quality of a gift, and a gift is not consummated until put beyond recall. P. 288 U. S. 286.

3. Uncertainties in statutes should be so resolved as to avoid unnecessary hardships. P. 288 U. S. 285.

Page 288 U. S. 281

4. In applying the rule that doubt in a taxing act hall be resolved in favor of the taxpayer, the court must consider the effect of a proposed liberal construction not only upon the taxpayer in the case before it, but also upon others, differently circumstanced, upon whom it would operate illiberally, and must endeavor to strike a balance of advantage. P. 288 U. S. 286.

5. The statutory concept of a transfer by gift is illuminated by the other provisions taxing transfer by death, as to which the essence of a transfer had come to be identified more nearly with a change of economic benefits than with technicalities of title. P. 288 U. S. 286.

58 F.2d 188 reversed.

Certiorari, 287 U.S. 587, to review the reversal of a decision of the Board of Tax Appeals, 24 B.T.A. 1181, affirming the assessment of a gift tax.

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