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U.S. Supreme Court

West v. Oklahoma Tax Commission, 334 U.S. 717 (1948)

West v. Oklahoma Tax Commission

No. 489

Argued March 29-30, 1948

Decided June 14, 1948

334 U.S. 717


1. An Oklahoma inheritance tax on the transfer of properties held in trust by the United States for the benefit of a restricted Osage Indian and his heirs, which properties had not been exempted by Congress from direct taxation, held valid. Pp. 334 U. S. 718-728.

2. United States v. Rickert, 188 U. S. 432, and McCurdy v. United States, 264 U. S. 484, distinguished; Oklahoma Tax Comm'n v. United States, 319 U. S. 598, followed. Pp. 334 U. S. 724-727.

3. For the purpose of an estate tax, there is no substantial difference between restricted property and trust property. P. 334 U. S. 726.

4. An inheritance or estate tax is not imposed upon the property of which an estate is composed, but rather upon the shifting of economic benefits and the privilege of transmitting or receiving such benefits. P. 334 U. S. 727.

5. Whether legal title to the properties composing an estate is in the United States or in the decedent and his heir is of no consequence to the taxability of the transfer, nor is the fact that permitting the imposition of the inheritance tax on the transfer may deplete the trust corpus and create lien difficulties. P. 334 U. S. 727.

200 Okla. ___, 193 P.2d 1017, affirmed.

From an order of the Oklahoma Tax Commission imposing an inheritance tax on the estate of a restricted Osage Indian, appellant, sole heir of the decedent, appealed. The state supreme court affirmed the order. 200 Okla. ___, 193 P.2d 1017. On appeal to this Court, affirmed, p. 334 U. S. 728. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 334 U. S. 718

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