LORENZO vs. POSADAS JR.
G.R. No. L-43082
June 18, 1937
FACTS: Thomas Hanley died, leaving a will and a considerable amount of real and personal properties. Proceedings for the probate of his will and the settlement and distribution of his estate were begun in the CFI of Zamboanga. The will was admitted to probate.
The CFI considered it proper for the best interests of the estate to appoint a trustee to administer the real properties which, under the will, were to pass to nephew Matthew ten years after the two executors named in the will was appointed trustee. Moore acted as trustee until he resigned and the plaintiff Lorenzo herein was appointed in his stead.
During the incumbency of the plaintiff as trustee, the defendant Collector of Internal Revenue (Posadas) assessed against the estate an inheritance tax, together with the penalties for deliquency in payment. Lorenzo paid said amount under protest, notifying Posadas at the same time that unless the amount was promptly refunded suit would be brought for its recovery. Posadas overruled Lorenzo’s protest and refused to refund the said amount. Plaintiff went to court. The CFI dismissed Lorenzo’s complaint and Posadas’ counterclaim. Both parties appealed to this court.
(e) Has there been delinquency in the payment of the inheritance tax?
HELD: The judgment of the lower court is accordingly modified, with costs against the plaintiff in both instances
The defendant maintains that it was the duty of the executor to pay the inheritance tax before the delivery of the decedent’s property to the trustee. Stated otherwise, the defendant contends that delivery to the trustee was delivery to the cestui que trust, the beneficiary in this case, within the meaning of the first paragraph of subsection (b) of section 1544 of the Revised Administrative Code. This contention is well taken and is sustained. A trustee is but an instrument or agent for the cestui que trust
The appointment of Moore as trustee was made by the trial court in conformity with the wishes of the testator as expressed in his will. It is true that the word “trust” is not mentioned or used in the will but the intention to create one is clear. No particular or technical words are required to create a testamentary trust. The words “trust” and “trustee”, though apt for the purpose, are not necessary. In fact, the use of these two words is not conclusive on the question that a trust is created. ” To constitute a valid testamentary trust there must be a concurrence of three circumstances:
(1) Sufficient words to raise a trust;
(2) a definite subject;
(3) a certain or ascertain object; statutes in some jurisdictions expressly or in effect so providing.”
There is no doubt that the testator intended to create a trust. He ordered in his will that certain of his properties be kept together undisposed during a fixed period, for a stated purpose. The probate court certainly exercised sound judgment in appointmening a trustee to carry into effect the provisions of the will
As the existence of the trust was already proven, it results that the estate which plaintiff represents has been delinquent in the payment of inheritance tax and, therefore, liable for the payment of interest and surcharge provided by law in such cases.
The delinquency in payment occurred on March 10, 1924, the date when Moore became trustee. On that date trust estate vested in him. The interest due should be computed from that date.
NOTES: Other issues:
(a) When does the inheritance tax accrue and when must it be satisfied?
The accrual of the inheritance tax is distinct from the obligation to pay the same.
Acording to article 657 of the Civil Code, “the rights to the succession of a person are transmitted from the moment of his death.” “In other words”, said Arellano, C. J., “. . . the heirs succeed immediately to all of the property of the deceased ancestor. The property belongs to the heirs at the moment of the death of the ancestor as completely as if the ancestor had executed and delivered to them a deed for the same before his death.”
Whatever may be the time when actual transmission of the inheritance takes place, succession takes place in any event at the moment of the decedent’s death. The time when the heirs legally succeed to the inheritance may differ from the time when the heirs actually receive such inheritance. ” Thomas Hanley having died on May 27, 1922, the inheritance tax accrued as of the date.
From the fact, however, that Thomas Hanley died on May 27, 1922, it does not follow that the obligation to pay the tax arose as of the date. The time for the payment on inheritance tax is clearly fixed by section 1544 of the Revised Administrative Code as amended by Act No. 3031, in relation to section 1543 of the same Code. The two sections follow:
SEC. 1543. Exemption of certain acquisitions and transmissions. — The following shall not be taxed:
(a) The merger of the usufruct in the owner of the naked title.
(b) The transmission or delivery of the inheritance or legacy by the fiduciary heir or legatee to the trustees.
(c) The transmission from the first heir, legatee, or donee in favor of another beneficiary, in accordance with the desire of the predecessor. xx
SEC. 1544. When tax to be paid. — The tax fixed in this article shall be paid:
(a) In the second and third cases of the next preceding section, before entrance into possession of the property.
(b) In other cases, within the six months subsequent to the death of the predecessor; but if judicial testamentary or intestate proceedings shall be instituted prior to the expiration of said period, the payment shall be made by the executor or administrator before delivering to each beneficiary his share.
The instant case does[not] fall under subsection (a), but under subsection (b), of section 1544 above-quoted, as there is here no fiduciary heirs, first heirs, legatee or donee. Under the subsection, the tax should have been paid before the delivery of the properties in question to Moore as trustee.
(b) Should the inheritance tax be computed on the basis of the value of the estate at the time of the testator’s death, or on its value ten years later?
If death is the generating source from which the power of the estate to impose inheritance taxes takes its being and if, upon the death of the decedent, succession takes place and the right of the estate to tax vests instantly, the tax should be measured by the value of the estate as it stood at the time of the decedent’s death, regardless of any subsequent contingency value of any subsequent increase or decrease in value
(c) In determining the net value of the estate subject to tax, is it proper to deduct the compensation due to trustees?
A trustee, no doubt, is entitled to receive a fair compensation for his services. But from this it does not follow that the compensation due him may lawfully be deducted in arriving at the net value of the estate subject to tax. There is no statute in the Philippines which requires trustees’ commissions to be deducted in determining the net value of the estate subject to inheritance tax
(d) What law governs the case at bar? Should the provisions of Act No. 3606 favorable to the tax-payer be given retroactive effect?
A statute should be considered as prospective in its operation, whether it enacts, amends, or repeals an inheritance tax, unless the language of the statute clearly demands or expresses that it shall have a retroactive effect, . . . .” Act No. 3606 itself contains no provisions indicating legislative intent to give it retroactive effect. No such effect can be given the statute by this court.