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SUPERINTENDENT FIVE CIVILIZED TRIBES v. COMMISSIONER INTERNAL REVENUE

May 20, 1935

SUPERINTENDENT OF FIVE CIVILIZED TRIBES
v.
COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE



CERTIORARI TO THE CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE TENTH CIRCUIT

Hughes, Van Devanter, McReynolds, Brandeis, Sutherland, Butler, Stone, Roberts, Cardozo

Author: Mcreynolds

[ 295 U.S. Page 418]

 MR. JUSTICE McREYNOLDS delivered the opinion of the Court.

Sandy Fox, for whom this suit was instituted, is a fullblood Creek Indian. Certain funds, said to have been

[ 295 U.S. Page 419]

     derived from his restricted allotment, in excess of his needs, were invested. The proceeds therefrom were collected and held in trust under direction of the Secretary of Interior. The question now presented is whether this income was subject to the federal tax laid by the 1928 Revenue Act (c. 852, §§ 11, 12, 45 Stat. 791). The Commissioner, the Board of Tax Appeals and the court below answered in the affirmative.

Petitioner maintains that the court should have followed the rule which it applied in Blackbird v. Commissioner, 38 F.2d 976; also that it erroneously held Congress intended to tax income derived from investment of funds arising from restricted lands belonging to a full-blood Creek Indian.

Blackbird, restricted full-blood Osage, maintained that she was not subject to the federal income tax statute. The court sustained that view and declared:

"Her property is under the supervising control of the United States. She is its ward, and we cannot agree that because the income statute, Act of 1918 (40 Stat. 1057), and Act of 1921 (42 Stat. 227), subjects 'the net income of every individual' to the tax, this is alone sufficient to make the Acts applicable to her. Such holding would be contrary to the almost unbroken policy of Congress in dealing with its Indian wards and their affairs. Whenever they and their interests have been the subject affected by legislation they have been named and their interests specifically dealt with."

This does not harmonize with what we said in Choteau v. Burnet (1931), 283 U.S. 691, 693, 696:

"The language of §§ 210 and 211 (a) [Act 1918] subjects the income of 'every individual' to tax. Section 213 (a) includes income 'from any source whatever.'*fn1

[ 295 U.S. Page 420]

     The intent of Congress was to levy the tax which respect to all residents of the United States and upon all sorts of income. The Act does not expressly exempt the sort of income here involved, nor a person having petitioner's status respecting such income, and we are not referred to any other statute which does . . . . The intent to exclude must be definitely expressed, ...


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