Friday, December 6, 2013

Young v. Commissioner case brief

Young v. Commissioner case brief summary
240 F.3d 369 (2001)

Petitioner taxpayers appealed from an order of the United States Tax Court ruling that 1) petitioner spouse took her former spouse's adjusted basis in land as part of a divorce settlement and should have recognized a taxable gain upon the subsequent sale of the property, and 2) the portion of the proceeds paid directly to her attorneys should also have been included in her gross income.

At issue were two tax questions arising from the settlement of a property dispute between former spouses. First, did a 1992 transfer of land from a petitioner's former husband to her constitute a transfer "incident to" their 1988 divorce for purposes of the nonrecognition of gain rules? Second, was petitioner required to include within her gross income the contingent fees paid directly to her attorneys from the proceeds of her subsequent sale of that land?


  • The appellate court answered both questions in the affirmative. 
  • The transaction occurred only because petitioner was the seller's former spouse and was enforcing her rights growing out of the dissolution of their marriage. 
  • Specifically, the 1992 transfer was related to the cessation of the marriage, thus neither party recognized a gain or loss on the transfer, and petitioner took the same basis in the land that the couple had when they were married. 
  • Likewise, the appellate court agreed that petitioner's direct assignment of the contingent fees paid did not relieve her of tax liability on the income.

The tax court's order was affirmed in all respects.

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