Logourl black
From our private database of 14,000+ case briefs...

Commissioner v. Tufts

United States Supreme Court
461 U.S. 300 (1983)


Pelt, Tufts, Steger, Stephens, and Austin (plaintiffs) formed a general partnership for the purpose of building an apartment complex. The partnership obtained a nonrecourse mortgage on the building in the amount of $1,851,500. The complex was completed in 1971, whereupon the partners made capital contributions in the amount of $44,212. In 1971 and 1972, each partner took depreciation deductions totaling $439,972. In light of their capital contributions and depreciation deductions, their adjusted basis in the property in 1972 was $1,455,740. But due to economic problems in the area, the partnership was unable to pay the mortgage. Eventually, each partner sold his share to a third party, who assumed the nonrecourse mortgage. At the time, the fair market value of the property was about $1,400,000. Because the fair market value was lower than their adjusted basis, each partner reported a partnership loss of $55,740 from the sale. But the Commissioner (defendant) found the amount realized by the sale included the amount of the unpaid mortgage, even though the mortgage exceeded the fair market value of the building, and determined the partnership had realized a capital gain of about $400,000. The Tax Court agreed with the Commissioner. The Court of Appeals reversed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.

Rule of Law

The rule of law is the black letter law upon which the court rested its decision.

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.


The issue section includes the dispositive legal issue in the case phrased as a question.

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.

Holding and Reasoning (Blackmun, J.)

The holding and reasoning section includes:

  • A "yes" or "no" answer to the question framed in the issue section;
  • A summary of the majority or plurality opinion, using the CREAC method; and
  • The procedural disposition (e.g. reversed and remanded, affirmed, etc.).

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.

Concurrence (O’Connor, J.)

The concurrence section is for members only and includes a summary of the concurring judge or justice’s opinion.

To access this section, please start your free trial or log in.

What to do next…

  1. Unlock this case brief with a free (no-commitment) trial membership of Quimbee.

    You’ll be in good company: Quimbee is one of the most widely used and trusted sites for law students, serving more than 97,000 law students since 2011. Some law schools—such as Yale, Vanderbilt, Berkeley, and the University of Illinois—even subscribe directly to Quimbee for all their law students. Read our student testimonials.

  2. Learn more about Quimbee’s unique (and proven) approach to achieving great grades at law school.

    Quimbee is a company hell-bent on one thing: helping you get an “A” in every course you take in law school, so you can graduate at the top of your class and get a high-paying law job. We’re not just a study aid for law students; we’re the study aid for law students. Read more about Quimbee.

Here's why 200,000 law students have relied on our case briefs:

  • Written by law professors and practitioners, not other law students. 14,000 briefs, keyed to 188 casebooks. Top-notch customer support.
  • The right amount of information, includes the facts, issues, rule of law, holding and reasoning, and any concurrences and dissents.
  • Access in your classes, works on your mobile and tablet. Massive library of related video lessons and high quality multiple-choice questions.
  • Easy to use, uniform format for every case brief. Written in plain English, not in legalese. Our briefs summarize and simplify; they don’t just repeat the court’s language.