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ENDLER v. UNITED STATES

February 16, 1953

ENDLER
v.
UNITED STATES



The opinion of the court was delivered by: HARTSHORNE

This case is submitted on stipulated facts and briefs. The question here is whether the purchaser of real estate from the United States is liable for documentary stamp taxes on a deed from the United States under the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code.

Plaintiff Endler, in 1947, purchased from the defendant United States the old Post Office and Court House site at Louisville, Kentucky, for a price in excess of $ 1,000,000.00, the Government delivering its deed to him therefor. The Government required Endler to pay to the Collector of Internal Revenue $ 1,943.85, the cost of U.S. documentary stamp taxes, which the Government insisted be affixed to such deed. Endler claimed refund therefor, and on the rejection of such claim, brought the present suit.

 The statutes presently involved provide as to the imposition of the tax that

 'There shall be levied, collected, and paid, for and in respect of the several bonds and other documents, instruments, matters, and things mentioned and described in sections 3481 and 3482, or for or in respect of the vellum, parchment, or paper upon which such instruments, matters, or things, or any of them, are written or printed, the several taxes specified in such sections.' 26 U.S.C.A. § 3480 (1946). Section 3482, there alluded to, covers

 'Deed, instrument or writing * * * whereby any * * * realty sold shall be * * * conveyed to, or vested in, the purchaser or purchasers, or any other person or persons, by his, her, or their direction * * *.' (then follow the rates of tax) 26 U.S.C. § 3482 (1946), as amended by Sections 505 and 521(a)(24), Revenue Act 1941, chapter 412, 55 Stat. 687.

 By Section 3483 it is provided that Section 1809 of chapter 11 of Title 26 shall apply to the taxes imposed by the above provisions. 26 U.S.C. § 3483 (1946).

 By Section 1809 of the Internal Revenue Code, it is provided as to the payment of tax that

 'The tax imposed by this chapter shall be paid by any person who makes, signs, issues, sells, removes, consigns, or ships any of the documents (including deeds) * * * or for whose use or benefit the same are made, signed, issued, sold, removed, consigned, or shipped. The United States * * * shall not be liable for the tax with respect to an instrument to which it is a party, and affixing of stamps thereby shall not be deemed payment for the tax, which may be collected by assessment from any other party therefor.' 26 U.S.C. § 1809 (1946), as amended by Sec. 506(f), Revenue Act 1942, chapter 619, 56 Stat. 798.

 Except for the last sentence of Section 1809, supra, referring specifically to the United States, the substance of the above provisions were incorporated in the earlier Revenue Acts, at least as far back as the Revenue Act of 1898, or more specifically, in separate chapters of same. *fn1" But it would simply confuse to make more detailed reference thereto. Each of these separate chapters refers in its own provisions, so far as pertinent hereto, to the other chapter, so they must all be read in pari materia.

 Since Section 1809, supra, in its last sentence makes it clear that the United States, as a party to a deed, is not liable for the tax, the specific question is whether the above provisions render plaintiff Endler, the grantee of the United States, liable therefor, as such grantee.

 As bearing upon this question, it should be further noted that in 1941, the year before the provision was inserted in Section 1809 to the effect that the United States should not be liable for the tax, the new Treasury Regulations provided in regard thereto that

 'The tax is payable by any of the parties to a taxable transaction. The parties to the transaction may agree among themselves as to which shall pay the tax, but such agreement does not relieve the others from their liability in the event it is not carried out. No provisions, by-laws, or rules of any exchange, and no custom, shall exempt any person from payment of the tax imposed.' U.S.Treas.Reg. 71, Sec. 113.2 (1941).

 The Treasury Regulations also provided:

 'The following are examples where the tax applies: * * * (j) a conveyance of real estate sold to or by the United States of America.' ...


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