Commissioner v. Stern

PETITIONER: Commissioner
RESPONDENT: Stern
LOCATION: Wolverine Tube, Inc.

DOCKET NO.: 311
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1957-1958)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 357 US 39 (1958)
ARGUED: Apr 07, 1958
DECIDED: Jun 09, 1958

Facts of the case

Question

Media for Commissioner v. Stern

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 07, 1958 (Part 1) in Commissioner v. Stern

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - April 07, 1958 (Part 2) in Commissioner v. Stern

Earl Warren:

Mr. Openheim, you may proceed.

Walter E. Barton:

Mr. Barton.

Mr. Openheim is in the next case, Your Honor.

Earl Warren:

Oh, pardon me.

Mr. Barton, yes, you may proceed.

Walter E. Barton:

Before -- Mr. Justice, may it please the Court.

Before attempting to argue the -- to answer the argument of the counsel on the other side, I'd like to call the attention of the Court to our contention that the questions argued by petitioner are not properly before this Court.

The only question in the Tax Court was whether the petitioner or the respondent rather, was a transferee of the assets of the estate of Milton J. Stern deceased.

Now, that appears on page 4 of the record which is in the deficiency letter sent to Mrs. Stern, the respondent.

And then, in the pleadings, in the petition, the answer and the reply the reference is made 25 times I believe it is to the liability of the respondent as transferee of the estate of the decedent.

And that is what the Tax Court decided.

If Your Honors will turn to page 16 of the record, it is argued and decided that the petitioner is liable as transferee of the estate of Milton J. Stern, deceased.

Now, the argument has been addressed to the proposition of whether she is a transferee of the decedent.

Of course, if these proceeds had been paid to the estate and turned over by the executor to Mrs. Stern, we've never would have gone into the Tax Court because necessarily, she would have been a transferee there of assets of the estate.

Another question which does not -- was not contended for in the Tax Court and wasn't raised there was the question with respect to the cash surrender values of the policies.

The only question down below was whether or not she was liable for the proceeds of the insurance.

So on those two issues, we contend that those questions are not properly before the Court.

I don't want to take too much time on that.

I think that is --

Could I ask you a question?

Walter E. Barton:

Yes, Your Honor.

You mean that on the first aspect of the Government's case, the Tax Court decided it under a mistake of time.

Walter E. Barton:

I don't think I meant to say that, Your Honor.

What I said was the question presented to the Tax Court was whether the petitioner was a transferee of the estate of the decedent.

Never any question presented the Tax Court as to whether she was a transferee of the decedent himself, and of course, there is an immense difference between being a transferee of the decedent and a transferee of the estate of the decedent.

Yes but the insurance policies were never part of the estate.

Walter E. Barton:

The -- the insurance proceeds never were paid to the estate and as I said, if they had been and then had been paid over to this widow beneficiary, we never would even gone into the Tax Court.

But surely, the Tax Court must do understood that the proceeds were payable to her under the policy.

Walter E. Barton:

The Tax Court did understand that I -- I'm sure the Tax Court understood it but the only issue presented was whether she was a transferee of the estate and that's what the Tax Court decided in the order.

Well, isn't that just a short or long way of saying that she was a transferee, but --