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TAFT v. COMMISSIONER INTERNAL REVENUE

decided: May 16, 1938.

TAFT, EXECUTOR
v.
COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE



CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE SIXTH CIRCUIT.

Hughes, McReynolds, Brandeis, Butler, Stone, Roberts, Black, Reed; Cardozo took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.

Author: Roberts

[ 304 U.S. Page 352]

 MR. JUSTICE ROBERTS delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question presented is whether the petitioner, as executor, may deduct from the gross estate amounts payable pursuant to the decedent's binding promises as claims against the estate incurred bona fide and for an adequate and full consideration in money or money's worth within the meaning of § 303 (a) (1), or as transfers to charitable or educational institutions under § 303 (a) (3), of the

[ 304 U.S. Page 353]

     Revenue Act of 1926.*fn1 The deductions were of amounts owing at the decedent's death upon the following contractual obligations.

By letter the decedent agreed with the University of Cincinnati to establish a fund as a memorial to her husband, stating that she would make available to the trustees of the fund, whom she named, during the ensuing year, $50,000, during the following year $75,000, and, in each succeeding year, $100,000 or such other income as might be derived from a fund of $2,000,000 which she would ultimately transfer to the trustees. The letter outlined the terms of the trust to which the income was to be devoted. The offer was formally accepted by the Board of Directors of the University and, pursuant to the agreement, the decedent made payments to the trustees and her executor continued to pay sums on account of interest and principal. The University is an educational institution and no profit enures to anyone from its operation.

[ 304 U.S. Page 354]

     Being deeply interested in the Cincinnati Institute of Fine Arts and its work, and having jointly with her husband and as an individual contributed large sums to this work, the decedent, to obviate the necessity of reducing the personnel of the orchestra the Institute conducts, agreed with the Institute that if it would retain two musicians she would pay their salaries under contracts covering two years. In reliance upon her promise the Institute re-engaged the two men. The decedent paid the amount of their salaries prior to her death and petitioner, as executor, paid them to the end of the contract term. The Institute would not have re-employed these men except for the agreement. It is a charitable corporation organized for the maintenance of a symphony orchestra and other activities, and no profit enures to anyone from its operations.

The decedent agreed by letter addressed to the Cincinnati Institute of Fine Arts that if it would employ a director of art she would contribute $10,000 towards his salary. In reliance upon this undertaking the institution engaged such a director at a salary of $10,000 per annum. She paid the stipulated amount for one and one-half years prior to her death and the petitioner, as executor, paid for one year subsequent to her death. There were no available funds for the employment of a director except those received from the decedent and the Institute would not have employed one except for her agreement. It is an educational institution and does not operate for profit.

In 1930 the decedent agreed with the University of Cincinnati that if it would engage a named person as professor to give a specified course of instruction she would pay the University the amount of his salary. She had made similar arrangements for prior years. The University employed the professor and would not have done so except for her agreement. At the time of her death a

[ 304 U.S. Page 355]

     sum remained due according to her promise which ...


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