Commissioner v. Bilder

PETITIONER: Commissioner
RESPONDENT: Bilder
LOCATION: Labor Union Protest

DOCKET NO.: 384
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1962)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

CITATION: 369 US 499 (1962)
ARGUED: Mar 29, 1962
DECIDED: Apr 30, 1962

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Commissioner v. Bilder

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 29, 1962 in Commissioner v. Bilder

Earl Warren:

Number 384, Commissioner of Internal Revenue, versus Sally L. Bilder, etcetera.

Mr. Pollak.

Stephen J. Pollak:

Mr. Chief Justice and may it please the Court.

This is an income tax case on writ of certiorari to the Third Circuit whose decision is in direct conflict with the decision of the Second Circuit in the Carasso case, now pending on certiorari.

The issue is whether a taxpayer who travels to Florida for the winter months for a heart condition on the advice of his physician may deduct the rent he pays for an apartment, while there, as a medical expense under Section 213 of the 1954 Code or whether the coast of his lodgings is a personal living expense nondeductible under Section 262.

The issue turns on a determination whether Congress, in passing Section 213, narrowed the scope of deductible medical expenses for it is undisputed that lodgings on travel essential to medical care were deductible under the 1939 Code.

We will show that Sections 262 and 213 leave lodgings as a nondeductible personal living expense, that they narrowed the scope of the previous provisions in the 1939 Code, that the regulations of the Internal Revenue Commissioner had been consistent in the interpretation of the statute to provide for nondeductibility and that the legislative history reads precisely on the issue presented here and calls for nondeductibility.

The facts are simple and not in dispute.

The petitioner was 43 years of age in 1953 and engaged in the practice of law in Newark, New Jersey.

He had had four heart attacks since 1945 and was medically classified as a hyperkinetic individual.

His physician, an eminent heart specialist, advised that he spend the deep winter months in a warm climate and, on this advice, he took his wife and child to Fort Lauderdale, Florida for the winters of 1954 and 1955, returning each spring to rej -- resume the practice of law.

He went to Fort Lauderdale as there was a physician there qualified to administer a particular anticoagulant drug that he required.

He also went to -- rented an apartment in Fort Lauderdale near a hospital, one of several hospitals there that were qualified to supervise his taking of this drug.

In his tax returns for 1954 and 1955, he took the rent he paid for the apartment -- the rent he paid for the apartment in which he and his family lived during the periods as a deduction from ordinary income.

There is no dispute that he was in Florida as a matter of medical necessity.

There's no suggestion that he was there on vacation.

Thus, the question presented is one of law, whether Congress in the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 afforded a deduction for the rental expense on travel for medical purpose.

The pertinent --

Potter Stewart:

-- don't question out the deductibility of the travel expenses, of the transportation expenses.

Stephen J. Pollak:

There is no question of the deductibility of the transportation expense --

Potter Stewart:

Right.

Stephen J. Pollak:

No.

The -- this --

Potter Stewart:

And there's also -- well, I've interrupted you, there's no question here as to the apportionment of the rent.

That's not in this case that's now presented.

Stephen J. Pollak:

There is also no question of the apportionment of rent.

It's a pure question --

Potter Stewart:

Surely, the --

Stephen J. Pollak:

-- whether the rent is deductible.

The pertinent statutes in the 1954 Code are Sections 262 and 213.