Handbook of the Law of Bailments and Carriers [review-book]

Eugene Untermyer
1915 Columbia Law Review  
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more » ... out Early Journal Content at http://about.jstor.org/participate--jstor/individuals/early-journal--content. JSTOR is a digital library of academic journals, books, and primary source objects. JSTOR helps people discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content through a powerful research and teaching platform, and preserves this content for future generations. JSTOR is part of ITHAKA, a not--for--profit organization that also includes Ithaka S+R and Portico. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. BOOK REVIEWS. BOOK REVIEWS. and cosmetics, etc., the tax impinges principally upon separate transactions in such manner that there is seldom enough at stake for any one individual to induce litigation. The interpretation is therefore largely departmental. There is a flood of decisions by the Treasury Department, and over by far the greater part of the Act they are the sole authoritative guide to its interpretation. In the treasury decisions themselves there is little or no coherence. Not only has the department under this administration reversed many of the decisions of the department given under the similar Act of 1898, but its own decisions on this one particular act are in some cases contradictory and in others utterly irreconcilable in principle. I give two illustrations: The ordinary assignment of stock is in form an assignment followed by a power of attorney in blank to transfer the stock represented on the books of the corporation. The Act imposes a tax of two cents on every hundred dollars of par value of stock transferred, and a tax of twenty-five cents on powers of attorney. The Act of. 1898 contained similar provisions. Under that the Treasury Department ruled that the power of attorney embodied in the assignment was taxable at twenty-five cents, in addition to the tax on the transfer. After the passage of the Act of 1914 the Treasury Department reiterated this decision, but shortly reversed itself on the obviously proper ground that the right to transfer on the books follows from the assignment; that the appointment of an attorney is mere surplusage, adds nothing to the force of the assignment, and is therefore not in legal effect a power of attorney. Schedule A imposes a tax in terms upon every transfer of stock or delivery of a certificate, but the accompanying penalty is limited to cases of sales. The Treasury Department accepts neither the construction that the tax is limited to cases of sales, nor the construction that it covers all transfers or deliveries, but takes the seemingly impossible ground that it is imposed in some cases where there is no sale-as for instance in cases of gift or transfer by a trustee to a beneficiary-and yet is not imposed in others-for example on transfer into the name of an administrator or executor, or from the name of a retiring trustee into the name of a substitute trustee. I think that the above examples will serve to illustrate the fact that to a man who does not care to litigate, but merely wishes to have a guide by which he may be reasonably safe in the conduct of his daily business, the official treasury decisions are of more value than any text book can be. Of course the Treasury Department does not make the law, but as a practical matter compliance with its decisions is doubtless full protection, and the only safeguard against or substitute for litigation.
doi:10.2307/1110209 fatcat:q67rnd34azbw3i47nioutmicbm