Mauldin v. Commissioner Please brief and analyze to this case, DO NOT use any source/reference from other articles. 8 1212(b). D. THE MEANING OF CAPITAL A
Mauldin v. Commissioner Please brief and analyze to this case, DO NOT use any source/reference from other articles. 8 1212(b).
D. THE MEANING OF CAPITAL ASSET
1. THE STATUTORY DEFINITION
Internal Revenue Code: Section 1221(a)(1)-(4). See Sections 1221(a)(5)-
Mauldin v. Commissioner
United States Court of Appeals, Tenth Circuit, 1952.
195 F.2d 714.
Before HUXMAN, MURRAH and PICKETT, CIRCUIT JUDGES.
MURRAH, CIRCUIT JUDGE.
This is an appeal from a decision of the Tax Court, holding that
certain lots sold by petitioners during the taxable years 1944 and 1945,
were property held by the taxpayer primarily for sale to customers in
13 See I.R.C. $ 1(h)(1) and page 691, supra.
14 I.R.C. $ 1222(5) and (6).
16 See I.R.C. $ 1(h)(1), 1(h)(4)(B)(ii), and page 691, supra.
THE CHARACTERIZATION OF INCOME AND DEDUCTIONS
clause of Section 117(a)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code, 26
the ordinary course of his trade or business within the US.CA
manner, it constituted ordinary income taxable under Section 22(a) and
$ 117(a)(1).1 If the gain from the sale of these lots was derived in this
not a capital gain taxable under Section 117(a)(1). Petitioners, residents
of the State of New Mexico, are husband and wife, and all income
involved is community income. The two cases were therefore consolidated
for trial and disposition. A summary of Mauldin’s business activities is
necessary to a determination of the issue presented.
C.E. Mauldin, a graduate veterinarian since 1904, who also engaged
in some road contracting, moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1916,
where he organized a road construction company. While in Clovis, New
engage in the cattle business. Later in the same year, he contracted to
buy 160 acres of land one-half mile from the city limits of Clovis for
$20,000.00. This land was particularly suitable for cattle feeding, but was
not at that time considered suitable for residential development, because
the City, with a population of 5000, was not growing in that direction.
By the time Mauldin finally received title to the land in June 1921,
he decided that it was not the time to go into the cattle business because
of drought, crop and bank failures, and a decline in the cattle busines
which continued through 1924. He tried to sell the entire tract in 1924
for less than he paid for it, but was unable to do so, partly because a
highway had been surveyed diagonally across the land, splitting it into
two tracts and rendering it less suitable for cattle feeding. A real estate
agent with whom he listed the property for sale advised him that they
would have better success if he divided it into small tracts and blocks.
The land was accordingly platted into 29 tracts and 4 blocks containing
88 lots each, and called the “Mauldin Addition”. At the time the land was
platted in 1924, there was still no demand for residential property in the
area. In 1927, he built a home for himself near the center of the Addition.
There were no sales of any consequence until the land commenced to
be included in the city limits of Clovis in 1931. By 1939, it was wholly
within the city limits, and without Mauldin’s request, the City began a
paving program in the area, for which he was assessed approximately
$25,000.00. When he was unable to pay this assessment, the City
instituted suits on its paving liens, and in order to save his property, he
divided some additional tracts into lots and devoted most of his time to
the sale of the lots in the Addition. He listed the property with real estate
agents and otherwise promoted sales through personal solicitations,
signs, newspaper advertisements, and gifts of lots to a school and the
builder of the first F.H.A. house in Clovis. He stated that at times he
1 See I.R.C. (1986) $ 1221(a)(1). All footnotes in this opinion are by the editors.
See I.R.C. $ 61(a).
See I.R.C. $ 1221(a)(1).
CAPITAL GAINS AND LOSSES
would “chase” a prospective purchaser “around the block”. During 1939
and 1940, he sold enough lots to liquidate the paving indebtedness.
Mauldin testified that with the indebtedness to the City paid, he
purposes, and after 1940, did nothing to promote sales. He stated, “I cut
decided to hold the remaining portions of the original tract for investment
it up and tried my best to sell it to clear it, and when I cleared it. I quit”.
From 1940 until 1949, when his health failed, Mauldin devoted full time
no real estate office, no license to sell real estate, did not advertise the
to the lumber business be organized in 1939. During this period, he had
times refused to sell certain lots, either because the prospective
properties by newspapers or signs, had no fixed price for lots, and at
purchaser would not pay the asked price, or Mauldin did not wish to selll
the particular property at that time. The only real estate purchased by
Mauldin after acquiring the 160 acres in 1920 was one “unsightly” block
connection with his lumber business.
Due primarily to the location of war facilities nearby, the City of
Clovis grew in population to 14,000 in 1940 and to 20,000 to 25,000 in
and the lots, Mauldin Addition, were in great demand. By the end
of 1945, Mauldin had disposed of all but 20 acres of his original 160 acre
tract. This 20 acres was considered by him and real estate dealers to be
his most valuable property. Mauldin’s records show that he sold 2 lots in
2 transactions in 1941; 11 in 1942 in 2 transactions (6 lots were given to
his daughter as a wedding present); 5% in 1943 in 3 transactions; 5% in
1944 in 3 transactions; 44% in 1945 in 15 transactions; 39 in 1946, 1 in
1947 and 2 in 1948. For the taxable years in 1939 and 1940, the
taxpayers’ income tax returns showed income from real estate only; for
each of the years 1941 and 1944 (returns for 1942 and 1943 not shown)
they showed net income of approximately $3,000.00 from sales of real
estate and approximately $12,000.00 from the lumber business; for the
year 1945, $20,484.84 from real estate and $12,339.80 from lumber, and
in 1946, $21.942.88 from real estate and $25,005.07 from lumber. On his
1940 return, Mauldin stated that the nature of his business was “real
estate” in 1943 it was shown as “lumber business; in 1944 he did not
designate the nature of his business; and in 1945 it was shown as “lumber
and real estate”.
In their income tax returns for the years 1944 and 1945, petitioners
showed the lots sold during those years as long-time capital assets, and
computed the tax accordingly. The Commissioner determined that the
profit realized was ordinary income within the meaning of Section
117(a)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code, and assessed the additional tax.
This appeal is from the judgment of the Tax Court sustaining the
Commissioner, and the only question is whether its judgment on these
facts can be said to be clearly erroneous.
THE CHARACTERIZATION OF INCOME AND DEDUCTIONS
It is admitted by expayer that during 1939 and 1940, he
engaged in the business of selling the tracts and lots in Mauldin. A
He earnestly contends, however, that after 19.10. his busine
changed; that his full time thereafter was devoted to the batt
business, and held the remaining lots for investment purposes. sans
property sold by the taxpayer was held by him primarily for sale
There is no fixed formula or rule of thumb for determining whether
customers in the ordinary course of his trade or business. Each case
them only through unsolicited offers when the price was right.
jy the last analysis, rest upon its own facts. There are a number of
factors, however, to point the way, among which are the pure
which the property was acquired, whether for sale or investment
continuity and frequency of sales as opposed to isolated transaction
Dunlap v. Oldham Lumber Co., 5 Cir. 178 F.2d 781: Annot. 106 NL
that the sales or transactions are in furtherance of an occupation of the
254; Mertens, Vol. 3, Sec. 22.08. And, any other facts tending to indicate
of real estate may discontinue such business and simply sell of the
Naxpayer, recognizing however that one actively engaged in the basis
remnants of his holdings without further engaging in the business. Snel
v. Commissioner, 5 Cir., 97 F.2d 891. Thus, where residents of New York
bought land in Florida and elsewhere from time to time for investment
a part of which was platted and improved, it was held that the occasional
sale of lots through local brokers was not sufficiently frequent
engrossing to give the taxpayers the vocation of real estate dealers
Phipps v. Commissioner, 2 Cir., 54 F.2d 469. And, in Foran
Commissioner, 5 Cir., 165 F.2d 705, a taxpayer admittedly engaged as a
broker of nonproducing oil and gas leases and royalties purchased a
producing property which he sold within eighteen months. The profit
realized therefrom was held to be income from a long-time capital asset.
the court reasoning that since this was the first producing property
purchased by the taxpayer, there was no occasion to disbelieve his
statement that he acquired it for investment or his motive for selling it.
On the other hand, sale and exchange of lots in 1939 and 1940 from
a 92 acre tract of land, partially subdivided in 1932, was held to be in the
ordinary course of business where the taxpayer had been continuously
engaged in the real estate business since 1908, and had divided a part of
the tract into lots in order to facilitate the sale of the land. Gruver v.
Commissioner, 4 Cir., 142 F.2d 363. So too was the sale of lots from a
tract of land which had been originally purchased for and used as a
lettuce farm, but subdivided into lots when it became too valuable for
truck farming operations. Richards v. Commissioner, 9 Cir., 81 F.2d 369.
106 A.L.R. 249. See also Oliver v. Commissioner, 4 Cir. 138 F.2d 910.
And, lots sold through sales agencies after reacquisition at a trustee’s
sale, were held to be in the ordinary course of trade or business, as
against the contention that they were sold in furtherance of an orderly
See Mertens, Vol. 3B, Sec. 22.15 (1973).
CAPITAL GAINS AND LOSSES
liquidation in Ehrman v. Commissioner, 9 Cir., 120 F.2d 607. While the
purpose for which the property was acquired is of some weight, the
ultimate question is the purpose for which it was held. Rollingwood Corp.
v. Commissioner, 9 Cir., 190 F.2d 263.
Admittedly, Mauldin originally purchased the property for purposes
other than for sale in the ordinary course of trade or business. When,
however, he subdivided and offered it for sale, he was undoubtedly
engaged in the vocation of selling lots from this tract of land at least until
1940. As against his contention that he ceased to engage in the business
after 1940, the record evidence shows that he sold more lots in 1945 on a
sellers market without solicitation than he did in 1940 on a buyers
market. It seems fairly inferable from the record that at all times he had
lots for sale, and that the volume sold depended primarily upon the
prevailing economic conditions, brought on by wartime activities and
their aftermath. It is true that he was in the lumber business, but his
returns plainly show that a substantial part of his income was derived
from the sale of the lots. In these circumstances, we cannot say that the
Tax Court’s conclusions are without factual bases.
The decisions are Affirmed.
Purchase answer to see full