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U.S. Supreme Court

Burnet v. Chicago Portrait Co., 285 U.S. 1 (1932)

Burnet v. Chicago Portrait Co.

No. 378

Argued January 20, 21, 1932

Decided February 23, 1932

285 U.S. 1


1. The term "foreign country," when used with reference to government, rather than to territory, may mean a foreign state in the international sense, or it may mean a foreign government having authority over a particular area or subject matter, which is not itself an international person but only a component or political subdivision of a larger international unit. P. 285 U. S. 5.

2. The term "foreign country" is not a technical or artificial one, and the sense in which it is used in a statute must be determined by reference to the purpose of the particular legislation. Id.

3. The Revenue Act of 1921, § 238(a) and (e), provides (with limitations) that domestic corporations may credit against their income taxes like taxes paid during the same taxable year "to any foreign country," and that, where such a corporation owns a majority of the voting stock of a foreign corporation from which it receives dividends in any taxable year, it shall be presumed to have paid the same proportion of any income tax paid by such foreign corporation "to any foreign country" upon the accumulated profits from which such dividends were paid, as the amount of such dividends bears to the amount of such accumulated profits. Held, construing it in connection with earlier legislation:

(1) That the purpose is to mitigate the evil of double taxation and to facilitate the foreign enterprises of domestic corporations, and chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 285 U. S. 2

(2) That the term "foreign country" is not limited to international states, but embrace any foreign government competent to lay the tax sought to be credited. Pp. 285 U. S. 15.

4. Administrative construction of a statute, if not uniform and consistent, will be taken into account by court only to the extent that it is supported by valid reasons. P. 285 U. S. 16.

5. Ambiguous regulations are of little value in solving statutory ambiguities. Id.

50 F.2d 683 affirmed.

Certiorari, 284 U.S. 607, to review a judgment of the Circuit Court of Appeals affirming a determination of the Board of Tax Appeals, 16 B.T.A. 1129. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 285 U. S. 4

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