Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas, Orphans' Court Division, of Allegheny County, No. 2528 of 1970, in re estate of Thomas L. Beggy, deceased; appeal of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Vincent J. Dopko, Deputy Attorney General, with him J. Shane Creamer, Attorney General, for Commonwealth, appellant.
Joseph A. Steedle, for appellee.
Jones, Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy and Barbieri, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Justice Jones. Mr. Chief Justice Bell took no part in the consideration or decision of this case. Concurring Opinion by Mr. Justice Eagen. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Roberts. Mr. Justice Barbieri joins in this dissenting opinion.
Thomas L. Beggy (decedent), an Allegheny County resident, died testate on June 11, 1970, leaving the residue of his estate to his brother, Edward Beggy.
Decedent and his brother, Edward Beggy, together with a cousin, a Mrs. Burke, had lived together for many years. In decedent's safe deposit box were found thirty-two (32) U. S. Series "E" savings bonds valued at $2622.12 registered in the names of decedent or Edward Beggy, said bonds having been issued between
September 1965 and August, 1969. This safe deposit box was in decedent's name only and the keys thereto were kept in decedent's possession.*fn1 The record indicates that, subsequent to his retirement in 1963, Edward Beggy received monthly checks of $120.60 from Social Security, $50.00 from the Pittsburgh Press and $11.00 from the International Union; most of the Social Security and retirement checks were turned over by Edward Beggy to and handled by decedent; that at least a substantial part, if not all, of the purchase money of the bonds came from Edward Beggy.
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania appraised and sought to tax at full value the amount of these bonds and the estate appealed to the Orphans' Court division of the Common Pleas Court of Allegheny County on the ground that the bonds should be subject to taxation at only one-half of the full value. After a hearing, the court entered a decree holding that the bonds were taxable at one-half of their full value.*fn2 The Commonwealth has appealed from that decree.
Taxation of jointly held property is generally controlled by the provisions of the Pennsylvania Inheritance and Estate Tax Act of 1961.*fn3 Section 241 of that statute provides: " Joint Tenancy -- When any property is held in the names of two or more persons, or is deposited in a financial institution in the names of two or more persons, so that, upon the death of one of them, the survivor or survivors have a right to the immediate ownership or possession and enjoyment of the whole property, the accrual of such right, upon the death of
one of them, shall be deemed a transfer subject to tax under this Act, of a fractional portion of such property to be determined by dividing the value of the whole property by the number of joint tenants in existence immediately preceding the death of the deceased joint tenant. This section shall not apply to property and interests in property passing by right of survivorship to the survivor of husband and wife. If the co-ownership was created in contemplation of death, within the meaning of Section 222 of this Act, the entire ...