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Ithaca Trust Co. v. United States, 279 U.S. 151 (1929)

Ithaca Trust Co. v. United States

No. 267

Argued February 27, 1929

Decided April 8, 1929

279 U.S. 151


1. Where a will makes bequests to charities, to be paid after the death of the testator's wife from a residuary estate bequeathed to her for life, and allows the wife to use from the principal any sum "that may be necessary to suitably maintain her in as much comfort as she now enjoys," and the income of the estate at the death of the testator, after paying specific debts and legacies, is more than sufficient to maintain the widow as required, her authority to draw on the principal, being thus limited by a standard fixed in fact and capable of being stated in definite terms of money, does not render the value of the charitable bequests so uncertain as to prevent their deduction from gross income, under § 403(a)(3) of the Revenue Act of 1918, in computing the estate tax. P. 279 U. S. 154.

2. The estate tax being on the act of the testator, and not on the receipt of property by legatees, the estate transferred is to be valued as of the time of the testator's death. P. 279 U. S. 155.

3. Therefore, the value of a life estate is to be determined on the basis of life expectancy as of that time, even though the life tenant died before the time came for computing and returning the tax. Id.

64 Ct.Cls. 686 reversed.

Certiorari, 278 U.S. 589, to review a judgment for the United States in a suit brought by the Trust Company to recover money collected as estate taxes.

Page 279 U. S. 153

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