Appeal from decree of Court of Common Pleas, Orphans' Court Division, of Lebanon County, No. 132 of 1972, in re Estate of Clara S. Meluskey.
Vincent J. Dopko, Deputy Attorney General, with him Israel Packel, Attorney General, for appellant.
Samuel G. Weiss, for appellee.
Jones, C. J., O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Jones. Mr. Justice Eagen took no part in the consideration or decision of this case. Dissenting Opinion by Mr. Justice Pomeroy.
On March 30, 1971, Clara S. Meluskey, a resident of Lebanon County, Pennsylvania, died testate. Letters
testamentary were issued by the Register of Wills of Lebanon County on April 1, 1971, to her sons, Reverend Andre J. Meluskey and James R. Meluskey, the named executors. After filing their Inventory and Appraisement and Statement of Debts and Deductions on December 29, 1971, the executors paid Pennsylvania inheritance tax based on a gross estate of $89,995.56. On May 17, 1972, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, through its Chief Inheritance Appraiser for Lebanon County filed its appraisement, which raised the value of the total taxable estate. As a result, additional inheritance taxes were assessed.*fn1 The executors filed a petition sur appeal from this assessment and a hearing was held on April 16, 1973.
One of the issues raised below, and the question before this Court, centers on a transfer of realty by the decedent to her son, James.*fn2 By a written agreement dated June 1, 1970, this realty, valued at $47,500, was transferred to James in return for his promise to pay her an annuity of $4,000 a year for the rest of her life. This annuity was valued at $27,353.80 according to the appropriate life expectancy tables.*fn3 The present controversy concerns the tax treatment of $20,147.20, the difference between the market value of the realty and the present value of the annuity. The Commonwealth asserts that this sum is taxable pursuant to Sections 221(a) and 225 of the Inheritance and Estate Tax Act
of 1961, P. L. 373, Article II, 72 P.S. § 2485-221(a) and 72 P.S. § 2485-225. These sections provide as follows:
§ 221(a) Consideration. All transfers of property, specified in sections 222-226, which are made during his lifetime by a resident or a nonresident, to the extent that they are made without valuable and adequate consideration in money or money's worth at the time of transfer, are subject to tax under this act.
"§ 225. A transfer conforming to section 221(a) and under which the transferee promises to make payments to, or for the benefit of, the transferor . . . during the remainder of the transferor's life is subject to tax under this act." The Commonwealth maintains that each and every requirement of ...