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limitation, however, in the Transfer Tax Act, United States bonds and securities would be taxable under the theory that it is the transfer of property that is taxed and not the property itself. (Matter of Whiting, 150 N. Y. 27, reversing 2 App. Div. 590; Matter of Sherman, 153 N. Y. 1, affirming 15 App. Div. 628.)
Legacies to the United States are taxable under this Act, the United States being a foreign corporation as far as the State of New York is concerned. The tax is not imposed upon the property of the United States but upon its right of succession thereto. (Matter of Merriam, 141 N. Y. 479, affirming 73 Hun 587; Matter of Cullom, 145 N. Y. 503, affirming 76 Hun 610 and 5 Misc. 173.)
Stocks of foreign corporations owned by a resident of the state are taxable on his death under this act, the theory being that the tax is imposed on the right of succession and not on the property. (Matter of Merriam, 141 N. Y. 479; overruling in effect Matter of Thomas, 3 Misc. 388, decided in 1893.)
The value of the estate is its value at the time of the decedent's death.
The true test of value by which the tax is to be measured is the value of the estate at the time of the transfer of title and not its value at the time of the transfer of the possession. (Matter of Davis, 149 N. Y. 539.)
The better and more reasonable construction of the statute is that the property of which the person died seized or possessed is subject to the tax; that the increase or interest thereafter obtained is not taxable. (Matter of Vassar, 127 N. Y. 1.)
The better rule is to assess the tax on the property
transferred as the testator leaves it, without regard to the operation or effect of equitable rules that apply only to the administration of the estate. (Matter of Sutton, 3 App. Div. 208.)
It is not the legacy that is taxable, but the property of which the testator dies seized or possessed applicable to the payment of the legacy. (Matter of Weed, 10 Misc. 628.)
The basis of taxation is the value of the whole estate transferred and not the value of individual shares.
Since the passage of the Act of 1892, the law of taxable transfers must be so construed that the liability to taxation shall depend upon the aggregate value of all the property transferred to taxable persons and not on the separate value of each several transfer. This rule does not overthrow the general theory of the nature of the tax already determined, that the tax is imposed upon the transfer of property to individual legatees; but it applies to provisions of the act where, by the use of the definitions, the intent of the legislature to so enact may be seen. (Matter of Hoffman, 143 N. Y. 327, reversing, on this point, 76 Hun 399, and affirming, on this point, 5 Misc. 439.)
The manifest purpose of the Act of 1892 was to tax the aggregate of the property transferred by the deceased and not the specific shares passing to each beneficiary; each share, therefore, less than $500 passing to a collateral relative is taxable if the whole amount passing to collateral relatives exceeds $500. (Matter of Hall, 88 Hun 68.)
In every instance where the total property, real or
personal, of an intestate or testator passing to persons other than those named in section 2 of the Act of 1892 (now section 221 of the Tax Law) is of the value of $500 or more, the liability to taxation at the rate of 5 per centum exists; the liability not being affected by the size of the individual shares. (Matter of Taylor, 6 Misc. 277.)
In every instance where the total personal property of an intestate or testator passing to the persons named in section 2 of the Act of 1892 (now section 221 of the Tax Law) equals or exceeds $10,000 the liability to taxation under the provisions of said act at the rate of 1 per centum exists, the liability not being affected by the size of the individual shares. (Matter of Taylor, 6 Misc. 277.)
Where the total amount of the shares of nieces and nephews under a will is less than $500 they are not liable to any tax. (Matter of Weed, 10 Misc. 628.)
Where the distributive share passing to a sister is less than $10,000 it is not to be added to the distributive shares passing to nephews, in ascertaining whether such last named distributive shares are subject to taxation. (Matter of Bliss, 6 App. Div. 192.)
Previous to the Act of 1892, at least, the word “estate” meant the property passing to the individual beneficiary and not the whole estate of the decedent. (Matter of Sterling, 9 Misc. 224.)
To the same effect, the opinion of the Attorney-General, given Feb. 4, 1896.
It was uniformly held before the passage of the Act of 1892 that the tax was upon the individual and could be imposed only when the particular interest devised exceeded the limitation provided by the statute. (Matter of Jones, 10 St. Rep. 163; Matter of Smith, 5 Dem. 90; Matter of Hopkins, 6 Dem. 1; Matter of McCready,
10 St. Rep. 696; Mc Vean v. Sheldon, 48 Hun 163; Matter of Cager, 111 N. Y. 343; Matter of Howe, 112 N. Y. 100; Opinion of Attorney-General, June 11, 1891.)
In Matter of Skillman, 10 Misc. 642, decided in 1894, the surrogate construed the Act of 1892 differently than the Court of Appeals in Matter of Hoffman, supra, and arrived at the conclusion that the purpose of section 22 of that Act (now section 242 of the Tax Law) in defining the words "property " and " estate was the imposition of a tax upon the value of the legacy in the hands of the testator or intestate and not its value to the legatee or distributee shorn of interest until payable, and, therefore, legacies bequeathed to lineal descendants in sums less than $10,000 each, although in the aggregate they might exceed $10,000, were exempt from taxation.
Contingent and expectant estates.
The statute does not contemplate those cases only where the interests created are capable of valuation at the death of the testator. Contingent interests may be taxed when they vest in possession and their value can be ascertained. (Matter of Stewart, 131 N. Y. 274, reversing 61 Hun 554, affirming 10 Supp. 15.)
A vested remainder limited on a life estate is taxable. (Matter of Vinot, 7 Supp. 517.)
When the question as to whether any property at all shall pass as a remainder and, if so, how much, depends upon the will of the first taker, there is no basis upon which the value of the devise can be appraised and no foundation for the imposition of any tax. (Matter of Cager, 111 N. Y. 343, affirming 46 Hun 657.)
Contingent and expectant estates can be taxed only
when they vest and become fixed and actual. (Matter of Hoffman, 143 N. Y. 327, affirming, on this point, 76 Hun 399, and reversing, on this point, 5 Misc. 439; Matter of Westcott, 11 Misc. 589; Matter of Roosevelt, 143 N. Y. 120, affirming 76 Hun 257; Matter of Le Fever, 5 Dem. 184; Matter of Leavitt, 4 Supp. 179; Matter of Clark, 5 Supp. 199.)
Where the remainder of an estate cannot be fixed because of the power given to the life-tenant to use the principal, a tax on the remainder cannot be assessed until the death of the life tenant. (Matter of Hopkins, 6 Dem. 1.)
When property is devised in trust for persons exempt from taxation under the Transfer Tax Act, and it cannot be determined until the end of the trusts whether the remainders will pass actually and beneficially to persons in whose hands it will be taxable or to others in whose possession it will be exempt, no appraisement of the contingent remainders should be made until such interests be come vested in possession on the termination of the trusts. (Matter of Curtis, 142 N. Y 219; 73 Hun 185.)
Where an estate transferred has a fixed or ascertainable value at the time of the death of the grantor, testator or intestate, the value at that time must be the basis of the appraisal whenever made; but if the person to whom the property passes cannot be known until the death of the life tenant the tax cannot be imposed until after that event. (Matter of Davis, 149 N. Y. 539.)
Where a widow is given the use of the whole estate for life but in case of her re-marriage then the use of onehalf only, it is impossible to ascertain the value of her estate for the purpose of taxation before her death or re-marriage. (Matter of Millward, 6 Misc. 425.)