$11,968.20; in 1926, the commissions $20,925.25, the payments $12,815.72; in 1927, the commissions $22,119.61, the payments $7,379.72; and in 1928, the commissions $26,177.56, the payments $11,068.25. The Commissioner ruled that these payments were not deductible from income as ordinary and necessary expenses, but were rather in the nature of capital expenditures, an outlay for the development of reputation and good will. The Board of Tax Appeals sustained [pg. 1457] the action of the Commissioner (25 B. T. A. 117), and the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed. 63 F.(2d) 976. The case is here on certiorari. "In computing net income there shall be allowed as deductions *** all the ordinary and necessary expenses paid or incurred during the taxable year in carrying on any trade or business." Revenue Act of 1924, c. 234, 43 Stat. 253, 269, § 214, 26 U.S.C. § 955, 26
5/5/2018 Checkpoint | Document USCA § 955 (a) (1); Revenue Act of 1926, c. 27, 44 Stat. 9, 26, § 214, 26 U. S. C. App. § 955, 26 USCA § 955 (a) (1); Revenue Act of 1928, c. 852, 45 Stat. 791, 799, § 23 (a), 26 USCA § 2023 (a); cf. Treasury Regulations 65, Arts. 101, 292, under the Revenue Act of 1924, and similar regulations under the acts of 1926 and 1928. We may assume that the payments to creditors of the Welch Company were necessary for the development of the petitioner's business, at least in the sense that they were appropriate and helpful. McCulloch v. Maryland, 4 Wheat. 316, 4 L. Ed. 579. He certainly thought they were, and we should be slow to override his judgment. But the problem is not solved when the payments are characterized as necessary. Many necessary payments are charges upon capital. There is need to determine whether they are both necessary and ordinary. Now, what is ordinary, though there must always be a strain of constancy within it, is none the less a variable affected by time and place and circumstance. Ordinary in this context does not mean that the payments must be habitual or normal in the sense that the same taxpayer will have to make them often. A lawsuit affecting the safety of a business may happen once in a lifetime. The counsel fees may be so heavy that repetition is unlikely. None the less, the expense is an ordinary one because we know from experience that payments for such a purpose, whether the amount is large or small, are the common and accepted means of defense against attack. Cf. Kornhauser v. United States, 276 U. S. 145, 48 S. Ct. 219, 72 L. Ed. 505. The situation is unique in the life of the individual affected, but not in the life of the group, the community, of which he is a part. At such times there are norms of conduct that help to stabilize our judgment, and make it certain and objective. The instance is not erratic, but is brought within a known type. The line of demarcation is now visible between the case that is here and the one supposed for illustration. We try to classify this act as ordinary or the opposite, and the norms of conduct fail us.
- Spring '14
- Income Statement, Supreme Court of the United States, Taxation in the United States, commissioner, Welch v. Helvering