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Kochansky v. Commissioner

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
92 F.3d 957 (1996)


Richard Kochansky (plaintiff) represented a client in a malpractice claim that began in 1983. The client was to pay Kochansky a contingent fee consisting of a percentage of any money the client recovered from the lawsuit. In 1985, Kochansky divorced his wife. As part of the divorce settlement, Kochansky gave his wife a one-half interest in the contingent fee from the client’s case. In 1987, the client paid Kochansky the contingent fee. Kochansky paid his former wife half of the contingent fee pursuant to the divorce agreement. Kochansky only paid taxes on his half of the contingent fee. The commissioner of internal revenue (commissioner) (defendant) assessed a deficiency against Kochansky, determining that he should have paid taxes on the entire contingent fee. Kochansky petitioned the tax court for a redetermination, and the tax court ruled for the commissioner. Kochansky appealed.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Canby, J.)

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