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Commissioner of Internal Revenue v. Taylor.

August 22, 1941


Appeal from the United States board of Tax Appeals.

Author: Clark

Before BIGGS, MARIS and CLARK, Circuit Judges.

CLARK, Circuit Judge.

The respondent taxpayer seeks to avoid the impact of a very recent decision of the United States Supreme Court.*fn1 In 1934 he created a trust for the benefit of his four nephews and nieces. By its terms it provides life estates in choses in action in the named children with powers of appointment and remainders over. The provisions relevant to the principal case read:

"(a) Trustees shall divide the principal of this Trust into four equal shares, said shares being represented respectively by the four children of Settlor's brother, John M. Taylor, to wit: Priscilla Taylor, Ellis Taylor, John M. Taylor, Jr., and diana Taylor (each child representing one share), and thereupon:

"I. Trustees shall hold for the use and benefit of each child of John M. Taylor aforesaid the share of principal represented by such child, and shall pay the net income therefrom to such child for his or her life; provided, however, that the income which may become payable under the terms hereof to any minor child of said John M. Taylor shall be accumulated by Trustees for such child and paid over to such child when he or she shall attain the age of twenty-one years, unless in the opinion of Trustees, in their sole discretion, such income or accumulated income should at any time during the minority of such child be needed for his or her proper education or support, in which event Trustees shall apply any part or all of such income and/or accumulated income, as Trustees in their sole discretion may deem expedient, for the education and support of such child during his or her minority.

"II. (c) Trustees shall hold the shares of minors in whom the principal shall have vested, during their resective minorities, and during such time shall apply the income therefrom for the education and support of the respective minors." Trust, Exhibit No. 2, Petitioner's brief, pp. 21, 22.

The respondent claims the statutory*fn2 deduction on these gifts. The Treasury has refused to allow it on the assertion that the gift comes within the exception rather than the rule. It calls the trusts "future interests in property" and relies on the Supreme Court case above cited in support thereof.

We think the Government's position is clearly correct. It is true that the life estate in the instant case vests immediately and the accumulation is thereafter, whereas in United States v. Pelzer*fn3 some accumulation (10 years' worth) occurs before the vesting. That fact may, as counsel contends, make the gifts in the latter case contingent. That difference is not, in our view, a distinction and for a simple reason. The respondent is trying, we think, to change the law by transposition and interpolation. He asks us to make the statute read "interests vested in the future." We find no warrant for so doing. The expression has two equally well-established and well recognized meanings among those learned in the law. Its earlier use is in the connotation of conveyancing. The books, texts and reports devote thousands of pages to intricate discussions of the various kinds of estates. The Restatement of Property alone has already devoted two volumes of 530 and 865 pages each to the codification of the law of future interests and we understand that a third similar volume is in preparation.*fn4

On the other hand, the phrase is employed in an entirely different sense. It is used in the grammatical interpretation of the adjective. The leading modern authority on the subject, Professor Simes, makes this quite clear in the first section of his text book. In speaking to the subject of "What Is a Future Interest," he says:

"The term 'future interests' is comparatively new in legal literature. Littleton, Coke, and Blackstone speak of reversions, remainders, and other specific interests, but do not use the term 'future interests.' Blackstone uses the term 'estates in expectancy.' 2 Blackstone's Comm. 163.

"A future interest may be described as an interest in land or other things in which the privilege of possession or of enjoyment is future and not present. The one essential is the possibility of future enjoyment." 1 Simes, Law of Future Interests, ยง 1, pp. 2, 3.

To what extent this definition must have been in the legislative mind is manifest from the identical language of the Congressional Committee's Report cited by Mr. Justice Stone in United States v. Pelzer, supra.

"The term 'future interests in property' refers to any interest or estate, whether vested or contingent, limited to commence in possession or enjoyment at a future date. The exemption being available only in so far as the donees are ascertainable, the denial of the exemption in the case of gifts of future interests is dictated by the apprehended difficulty, in many instances, of determining the number of eventual donees and the values of their ...

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