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Commissioner v. Culbertson

United States Supreme Court
337 U.S. 733 (1949)


In 1915, Culbertson (plaintiff) and R.S. Coon formed a partnership to run a cattle business. In 1939, Coon desired to dissolve the partnership. Culbertson, who wanted to continue the business, purchased the remaining cattle from Coon and formed a new partnership with his four sons by transferring to them an undivided one-half interest in the cattle herd. In return, the sons issued Culbertson a note, which they eventually paid off with profits from the cattle ranch. The new partnership, Culbertson & Sons, began operation in 1940. At the time, Culbertson’s eldest son lived on the ranch with his wife, where he had worked the previous two years as a foreman for Culbertson and Coon’s partnership. Culbertson’s second son was in college at the time the new partnership was formed and then directly entered the army. He did not render any services for the tax years 1940 and 1941. The two youngest sons were in school and worked on the ranch in the summer. Culbertson and Sons filed a partnership return for 1940 and 1941, and divided income according to each partner’s interest. The Commissioner (defendant) determined that the partnership’s entire income was taxable to Culbertson because his sons were not true partners. The Tax Court sustained the Commissioner’s finding. The Court of Appeals reversed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Vinson, C.J.)

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