Paschal, 8 Cir. Cohen, 21 T. Jorden, 11 T. These authorities hold that simple interest is deductible if legally owed, notwithstanding the probability that it may not be paid. The Government says that a different rule should apply to interest on interest not likely to be paid. That section simply provides for deduction of interest accrued 'on indebtedness. Interest is recognized as a legal obligation whether all, part, or none of it will be recovered in bankruptcy proceedings; for example, consider the rule that a promise to pay a debt barred in bankruptcy is enforceable without consideration-- the law recognizes that some kind of obligation still exists.
Neither does it expressly permit such deduction; but by postulating a preexisting legal liability for interest, it necessarily bases deductibility on the law creating such liability, namely state law. But it may be supposed that the federal bankruptcy laws can affect deductibility also. So the Government contends. Let us now proceed to the consideration of that argument.
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The Government's argument with reference to the bankruptcy laws is founded upon the Supreme Court's decision in Vanston Bondholders Protective Committee v. Green, U. That case was based upon a construction of 11 U. The Vanston case seems to us to establish a rule only for the distribution of a bankrupt's assets. It did not hold that such a claim was void, but only that the claimant should not participate in the distribution of assets until all claims superior in conscience and fairness were paid. Certain language in the majority opinion, it is true, seems to imply that such a claim is void; 3 however, that language seems to us an inadvertent confusion of the concepts of allowance of a claim and postponing or subordinating it i.
For disallowance in the technical sense means that the claim is nonexistent, but we think it is clear from the Supreme Court's opinion that it did not mean that the interest on the bond coupons was void, but simply that it should be subordinated to the claims of general creditors. This is borne out, we think, by the Court's repeated references to 'distribution of assets among the bankrupt's creditors. Of course, if a claim is disallowed, the claimant is to that extent held to be no creditor at all, so no question of distribution to him could possibly arise.
Any reference to distribution among creditors would be unnecessary and inapposite if the Court really meant to hold the claimants of interest on the coupons had no claim at all for this amount. There is a further reason for rejecting the Government's contention that Vanston holds that a bankruptcy court can disallow and therefore declare void a claim, irrespective of its validity according to state law.
Suppose that an obligation valid under state law is disallowed, that is, declared to be no obligation, in a bankruptcy court, and the debtor subsequent to discharge promised to pay it, or the bankruptcy court under 11 U. And might not this deprivation of the creditor's cause of action in a state court raise grave doubts as to the constitutionality of the bankruptcy court's action? We think that it might. For the Supreme Court has recognized that the constitutional grant of power to Congress to enact uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies, Art. Louisville Joint Stock Land Bank v. Radford, U.
Union Central Life Ins. Rather than ascribe to the Vanston case a meaning so out of keeping with the purposes of federal bankruptcy legislation, as we understand them, and not clearly implicit in the grant of equitable powers to bankruptcy courts, we interpret that case only as establishing the equitable power and duty of bankruptcy courts to subordinate such a claim. Of course, it is obvious that the state law creating an obligation could itself be void as conflicting with the federal Constitution, a federal statute, or a policy established by extensive federal legislation in a certain area; but we do not think the bankruptcy laws themselves can rightly be interpreted as rendering an obligation to pay interest on interest-- certainly valid under the laws of most states-- void.
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And since, as we concluded above, interest on an unconditional legal obligation is deductible for income tax purposes by an accrual basis taxpayer, notwithstanding the improbability of its being paid, it follows that subordinated interest, or interest on a subordinated debt may nevertheless be deducted, provided it is a valid obligation under state law. Being unable then to resolve the question whether the deduction was proper, as a matter of purely federal statute, we are compelled to consider whether the obligation to pay interest on the interest coupons is valid under the applicable state law.
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Federal Deposit Ins. In the interest of brevity we omit discussion of the arguments and authorities on this question, except to note that interpretation of the federal statute involved should always be the fundamental criterion in non-diversity cases. We do think that a given taxpayer's liability on a given state of facts should not depend upon where action is brought, and that a contrary holding would seem to be interpreting the statute incorrectly. Thus, geographical uniformity in the tax liability of a given person on given facts seems to us to be a more important criterion in interpreting the Internal Revenue Code than the uniformity of tax liability of different persons in different states on similar facts.
Indeed, uniformity of the former sort may be even more important than uniformity of result in a given civil litigation, regardless of forum; and this last sort of uniformity is the very basis and object of the principles of Conflict of Laws. See Goodrich on Conflict of Laws 3d Ed. In considering the Conflict of Laws aspects of this case, we encounter at the outset the question of 'characterization.
According to the accustomed concepts of the common law system, it seems clear that the problem falls into the category of the charging of excessive interest, that is, usury; but the authorities relating to New York law relied upon by the Government appear to conceive of the matter as something distinct from usury, for they hold that a corporation may assert this defense, though it may not assert the defense of usury. See Empire Trust Co. Equitable Office Building Corp. However, in deciding how the matter should be characterized for conflict of laws purposes, it is clear that the law of the forum should control.
Having characterized the problem as one of usury, we find that the American courts have treated that particular problem quite differently from other questions of validity of contract. The law determining the validity of a contract generally, is said to be the most confusing problem in the Conflict of Laws. Courts follow four or five different rules, and often there is no uniformity even in the cases from a single jurisdiction. But with respect to the question of usury, it may be stated as a well-established rule that a provision in a contract for the payment of interest will be held valid in most states if it is permitted by the law of the place of contracting the place of performance, or any other place with which the contract has any substantial connection.
Seeman v. Philadelphia Warehouse Co. Alliance Trust Co. Commercial Credit Co.
A large number of cases supporting this view are collected in annotations in 62 L. In the Lubbock case, Judge Hutcheson, speaking for this court in reference to the conflicts rule relating to usury, said, 77 F. Where the loan, through domicile of the parties, place of contract or for other reasons is connected with several states of different usury policies, the commodious view has been taken that the court will apply that state law which is most favorable to the maintenance of the transaction. While in general a contract is void if it is illegal under the lex loci contractus, courts, uphold contracts if the contractual rate of interest conforms either with the lex loci contractus or with the lex loci solutionis or with any other place with which the transaction has a 'normal relation' language of Stone, J.
See also 2 Beale, Conflict of Laws We thus conclude that if we were required to apply a federal rule of conflicts here, rather than choosing among the discordant rules relating to validity of contracts in general we would apply the special rule applicable to usury, both because this is a comparatively well-settled rule, and because we would then find it unnecessary to decide the broader and more difficult question.
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Furthermore, we are of the opinion that the Florida courts would reach the same result, either on this narrow ground or upon some broader rationale; 9 naturally we rely upon the narrow ground in order to decide as little Florida law as is necessary to the result. It is true that the case of Thompson v. Kyle, 39 Fla. However, we would be reluctant to follow an isolated holding, 11 especially one so old as this, 12 and so contrary to the weight of authority in other jurisdictions 13 with regard to the conflicts rule applicable to usury.
The more recent cases, we think, indicate that a contrary result would now be reached, at least with respect to interest on bond coupons. City of Winter Park, Inc. Dunblaine, Inc.
The record of that case shows the bonds were issued in Florida, but nevertheless, the case shows that Florida courts will go to some lengths to support interest on bond coupons, since it is generally accepted rule of Conflict of Laws that-- entirely separate and apart from the matter of usury-- the rate of interest on a contractual obligation not stipulating otherwise is the legal rate at the place of performance. Osburn, 5 Cir. Our opinion appears to indicate that interest on interest coupons in such a case would also depend on Florida internal law.
Hawkins, 23 Fla. We see no difference between an overdue coupon which promises no interest after maturity, and a bond which similarly makes no promise. See also State ex rel. Crane v. City of Lakeland, Fla. City of Winter Haven, 5 Cir. Trustees of Internal Improvement Fund v. Lewis, 34 Fla. King, 13 Fla. Thompson v. Porter Interests v. Missouri State Life Ins. Thompson, Fla. We do not think that the Florida Supreme Court would now follow Thompson v. Kyle, supra. In the light of the above authorities, we think it would hold an express provision for interest on matured bond coupons valid, where the transaction bore such a substantial relationship to Florida as in this case, if valid by Florida internal law, regardless of the law of other states involved.
And it is quite clear that a provision for interest on interest is valid by Florida internal law; this is expressly conceded by the Government. Panama City v. Free, Fla. Mortgage Discount Co. Thus, we conclude that if we applied a federal rule or if we determined what result the courts of Florida would reach, the answer would be the same. We do not determine which road the trial court should have travelled to arrive at the common destination.
We hold that the interest here is a legal obligation, deductible by an accrual basis taxpayer under 26 U. Acts, pp.
In the excess profits tax was repealed by Section a of the Revenue Act of , effective for any taxable year beginning after December 31, Thus, there would be no reason for any taxpayer to compute an excess profits credit for the years and here in question. None was computed. The taxpayer here sustained losses in and , part of which was attributable to interest on invested capital.
The taxpayer sought to get tax advantages from these two loss years by carrying back the losses to the years and , which increased the unused excess profits credit for and to be carried back to and , the years in dispute here. This determination of the Commissioner is supported by the Government on the statement in its brief that although there was no longer any excess profits tax and no longer any purpose for computing any excess profits credit for the years and 'it must be assumed that it would have computed it the credit for and in the same manner.
While we recognize that the complexities arising from the necessarily involved provisions of the excess profits tax statutes are so great that the clear meaning of all of them may sometimes escape the most diligent and conscientious reader, we perceive no danger of such a failure here since the Government frankly bases its argument on such a proposition. Our conclusion that under the plain and unambiguous language of the law no such result can be justified is bolstered by the argument made by the Government that 'it must be assumed that it the taxpayer would have computed it the credit in and in the same manner.
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We have read the discussion of this same question in the several cases in which it has been litigated and we find ourselves in complete accord with the Tax Court which has twice taken the view expressed here, 16 and we cannot follow the reasoning that led the Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit to affirm per curiam the case of National Fruit Product Co. United States, 4 Cir. If the national government should attempt to adopt its own substantive definitions of state-created interests on which national causes of action rest, a situation may develop in which a person is subjected to burdensome nationally created duties and liabilities as the holder of such state-created interests for the purpose of the national cause of action.
At the same time, when this individual attempts to assert his rights as defined by the national government, the state courts may refuse and the federal courts will be compelled to refuse under the doctrine of Erie v. Tompkins to enforce the same interest. Thus a person may be taxed on a nonexistent interest. Jurisdiction to allow and disallow is based on 2, sub. In passing on an allowance of claims the court sits as a court of equity, which gives it far-reaching powers 'to sift the circumstances surrounding any claim to see that injustice or unfairness is not done in administration of the bankrupt estate.
Litton, U. Mere reasons of equity may sometimes require that a creditor's claim be either totally disallowed or subordinated to the claims of all or of certain other general creditors, such as where the creditor is closely related to the bankrupt, or as a majority stockholder or corporate officer should be treated as a proprietor rather than as a creditor, or where by previous conduct he is estopped to claim parity with other creditors. Equities to be weighed in connection with the allowance of a claim may vary in importance.
They may in extreme cases be strong enough to warrant disallowance absolutely and entirely. In other cases equity may be satisfied with a mere 'subordination,' or postponement of a claim, and its relegation to a rank inferior to that of all general creditors or of a particular group. In the case characterized as 'extreme,' the order of disallowance negatives the very validity and existence of the claim. According to our interpretation of Vanston, a state law regarding priorities may be held void by bankruptcy courts when it conflicts with the policies and equitable principles of federal bankruptcy law; but this presents no comparable constitutional difficulty.
The federal statutes may be regarded as 'filling the field' with respect to priorities, but certainly they do not with respect to the existence of obligations. As Mr. Justice Frankfurter said concurring in Vanston, U. The majority opinion may be reconciled with these unquestionably correct principles only if it is regarded, as we regard it, as not declaring the obligation regardless of validity under state law void, but merely as subordinating it.
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