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Estate of Rapelje v. Commissioner
United States Tax Court
73 T.C. 82 (1979)
In August 1969, Adrian Rapelje transferred title to his New York home to his two daughters, Helen Mulligan and Priscilla Wright (plaintiffs). In September, Mulligan’s niece moved into the house with her husband and stayed about five months while Rapelje went to Florida for the winter, as he had done annually for a decade. Rapelje looked at one Florida house for sale but did not house hunt extensively. After six months, Rapelje returned and resumed living alone in the New York house. In July 1970, a stroke left Rapelje partially paralyzed and unable to speak. A year later, Mulligan’s daughter moved in and stayed with Rapelje for several months. Otherwise, Rapelje lived alone in the house until his death in 1973. Meanwhile, his daughters did not try to sell or rent the house. One paid some utility bills, but Rapelje paid the property taxes and paid no rent. Mulligan claimed she had planned to move into the house by 1971 and made some weekend trips and repairs in preparation but abandoned that plan after Rapelje’s stroke. Rapelje’s will appointed his daughters coexecutrixes of his estate, and they had his final estate-tax return prepared. The Commissioner of Internal Revenue (the Commissioner) (defendant) assessed a tax deficiency, reasoning that the estate included the house because Rapelje had retained possession and enjoyment. The daughters petitioned on the estate’s behalf, arguing Rapelje had given them the house.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Dawson, J.)
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