United States v. Correll

PETITIONER: United States
RESPONDENT: Correll
LOCATION: Alamance County

DOCKET NO.: 113
DECIDED BY: Warren Court (1967-1969)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit

CITATION: 389 US 299 (1967)
ARGUED: Nov 14, 1967
DECIDED: Dec 11, 1967

Facts of the case

Question

Media for United States v. Correll

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - November 14, 1967 in United States v. Correll

Earl Warren:

United States petitioner versus Homer O. Correll et al.

Mr. Solicitor General.

Erwin N. Griswold:

May it please the Court.

This is a tax case involving a rather narrow question of statutory construction with respect to a matter as to which there is very little specific in the statute.

And therefore, it seems to me that it is essentially a question of tax administration.

The statutory provisions which are involved, there are two.

They are set forth at the bottom of page 2 of the Government's main brief, Section 162 of the Internal Revenue Code allows the taxpayer to deduct the necessary expenses of carrying on a trade or business including, and these are the words; traveling expenses including the entire amount spent for meals and lodging while away from home in the pursuit of a trade or business.

And if that statutory provision was the only one there was, I suppose this problem would not be here.

There is however another section of the statute, a section which I may say was not mentioned in the opinion of the court below at Section 262 which provides except as otherwise expressly provided in this chapter.

No deduction shall be allowed for a personal living or family expenses.

The question arises on these facts.

The taxpayer is a salesman whose home is in Fountain City, Tennessee, which I understand to be a suburb of Knoxville.

He is one of some 16-group salesmen who works for a wholesale grocery company named Hale Brothers Incorporated which has its headquarters in Morristown, Tennessee, which is about 50 miles away from Fountain City.

Each salesman has a territory.

One or two have accounts only in their own hometowns.

Some others have larger territories and make at least occasional overnight trips.

But the taxpayer in this case left home each morning about 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning, made calls in several cities and towns and returned home between 4:30 and 5:00 in the afternoon.

And the simple question in this case is whether this taxpayer is entitled to deduct in computing his taxable income, the cost of his two meals during that day, breakfast and lunch, which he usually had on the premises of his customers at places known to his employer so that his employer would be able to get in touch with him if there was any matter that he wanted to communicate to him.

I think I should also mention that there is pending before the Court another case, the William A. Bagley against the United States, against the commissioner, Number 155, in which a petition for a writ of certiorari has been applied for which is essentially in conflict with the decision below.

And the Court has not taken action on that petition.

What circuit was that?

Erwin N. Griswold:

That's from the First Circuit with if I may say so an excellent opinion by Judge Aldrich which is included in the petition in that case and that which seems to me they present a very fine analysis of the problem.

The Bagley case is similar to this case.

It's a little different in that it involves the free meals per day whereas the present case involves the two meals per day.

In the Bagley case, the taxpayer was an engineer who had retired from a job at General Electric and did consulting work.

He kept his office in his home.

He was a widower, lived alone.

The evidence was that he didn't like to cook or wash dishes.

He left home in the morning at 6 o'clock.

He often did not return until 9:00 or 10:00 at night.