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Matter of Estate of Carson

Decided: March 26, 1964.

IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF WILLIAM T. CARSON, DECEASED


Pascoe, J.c.c.

Pascoe

The Philadelphia National Bank and Mary A. Carson, executors of the estate of William T. Carson, deceased, filed a complaint seeking allowance of the first and final account of their administration. Mary A. Carson, individually, objects to that portion of the accounting wherein a federal income tax refund of $1,144.36 is declared to be a charge on corpus.

William T. Carson died on May 7, 1962. The fiduciaries of his estate and the decedent's widow filed a joint return for the year 1962 in accordance with section 6013(a)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954. The joint return listed the income of both the deceased William T. Carson and his widow. There were credits arising out of withholding payments on the decedent's earnings, but no credits were attributable to the income of Mary A. Carson. The sole question before this court is whether the refund check drawn by the Treasury Department belongs to the estate of William T. Carson, the surviving widow Mary A. Carson or jointly.

It is the contention of the attorney for Mary A. Carson, individually, that section 6013(d)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 grants her part ownership in the refund. That section of the Code provides,

"if a joint return is made, the tax shall be computed on the aggregate income and the liability with respect to the tax shall be joint and several."

Since the widow was liable for any overpayment of taxes, she should be the recipient at least in part of any overpayment of taxes on a joint return.

It is the opinion of this court that the arguments of the attorney for Mary A. Carson are not valid in light of the

elementary rules involving statutory construction. The Internal Revenue Code of 1954 was enacted for the express purpose of providing an efficient and fair method of collecting the necessary tax revenue for the support of the Federal Government. Any provisions of this Code must be read with this purpose in mind. Congress may prescribe tests of ownership which are reasonably designed to prevent tax avoidance and to promote uniformity in the operation of federal law. Since the income tax is imposed by the federal statute, all questions of liability are ultimately to be resolved under federal law. Nevertheless, where the tax depends upon a property right, the existence of that right must be determined under local law. Contested adjudications of state courts are controlling as to such property rights. The importance of local law concerning property rights when dealing with federal revenue statutes is well documented. 5 Rabkin & Johnson, Federal Income Gift & Estate Taxation , ยง 71.08, pp. 7166-7171 (1962).

The purpose of section 6013 was to equalize the tax burden for married persons in all states, whether the persons are residents of a community property state or not. It was not intended to deal with ownership rights between taxpayers, but merely concerns itself with the efficient and orderly process of collecting the tax revenue of the Federal Government.

A second contention by attorney for Mary A. Carson individually is that section 6402 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 supports the claim of the widow for a portion of the refund. This section of the Internal Revenue Code and the regulations promulgated thereunder merely provide that refund checks can be made payable to both husband and wife. There is nothing in this section of the Code nor the regulations of the Treasury Department which would indicate that in a factual situation such as we have before us the widow would be entitled by federal law to the benefits of the overpayment.

The sole case cited by Mary A. Carson individually is Maragon v. United States , 153 F. Supp. ...


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