G. Selden Pitt, Philadelphia, for appellant.
Israel Packel, Atty. Gen., Catherine G. Barone, Asst. Atty. Gen., Vincent P. Dopko, Deputy Atty. Gen., Vincent X. Yakowicz, Spec. Deputy Atty. Gen., Harrisburg, for appellee, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Eagen, O'Brien, Roberts, Pomeroy, Nix and Manderino, JJ. Jones, C. J., did not participate in the consideration or decision of this case.
This is an appeal from a decree dated January 11, 1973, sustaining the action of the Commonwealth in appraising and assessing an inheritance tax on certain remainder interests in the estate of William H. Beeson. The issue presented is whether the April 29, 1937 assessment, which assessed tax on the life interest of the widow only, was a final assessment so as to preclude the September 22, 1970 assessment of tax on the remainder interests.
William H. Beeson, a resident of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, died on May 13, 1936. The decedent left a will, duly probated, which provided for a residuary trust with income to his wife, Dora Buss Beeson, for her life, together with a power to invade the principal. Upon her death, the income was to be paid in equal shares to three nieces: Kathryn Beeson Wirsing, Louise Beeson (later Louise Beeson Stuber), and Kathryn Wirsing Lofgren. Each was given a power of appointment over the principal supporting her income interest. The will further provided for specific bequests to named beneficiaries and
for annuities in favor of each of the nieces in the amount of $500.00 per annum.
Decedent's widow died on October 4, 1964. She was predeceased by Kathryn Beeson Wirsing, whose share of principal was distributed to her appointee in 1965. Kathryn Wirsing Lofgren still survives. The third niece, Louise Beeson Stuber, survived decedent's widow but died in 1969 and under an adjudication dated April 22, 1970, her share of the principal was awarded to her appointees. On September 22, 1970, the Commonwealth assessed inheritance tax on this outgoing share, and it is the validity of this action which the appellant now challenges.
The original appraisement, which was filed on April 29, 1937 valued the net estate subject to tax at $178,059.29. Inheritance tax in the amount of $3,605.94 was assessed upon the value of the specific bequests, the annuities to the three nieces, and the widow's life estate. The last item in the appraisement and assessment which follows clearly shows that tax was assessed only on the estimated present value of the widow's life estate -- $65,007.20 -- and not on the remainder estate.
Spec. bequest to widow 92.25 at 2% 1.85
Spec. bequest to sister-in-law 5,000.00 at ...