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State-Planters Bank & Tr. Co. v. Commonwealth - 174 Va. 289, 6 S.E.2d 629 (1940)

Rule:

The status of a person for taxation is decided not by citizenship but by domicile.

Facts:

Emilie Hanewinkle was a former resident of the City of Richmond, State of Virginia who moved to Rome, Italy. During this period, she returned to America four times; not having any fixed place of abode in Virginia, she stayed at the Jefferson Hotel. On her last visit to America on December 1, 1934, she registered at the hotel as “Miss E. Hanewinkle, Rome Italy. However, on January 5, 1935, while in Richmond, Virginia, Miss Hanewinkle made, executed and acknowledged her last will and testament, the preamble of which read, “I, Emilie Hanewinkle (formerly Hanewinckel) of Richmond, Virginia, * * *.” She left America on April 9, 1935, and returned to Italy. She died in Rome on January 3, 1938 and was there buried. On the basis of Miss Hanewinkle’s last will and testament, the Department of Taxation of Virginia assessed the estate of the deceased with state succession or inheritance taxes amounting to $1,505.24. The plaintiff in error, as executor and trustee, promptly applied to the Circuit Court of the city of Richmond for relief from the assessment on the ground that its testate was a non-resident of the State of Virginia and that the assessment was therefore erroneous, illegal and void. On the other hand, the State contended that, even admitting Miss Hanewinkle attempted or desired to give up her residence and domicile in Virginia, the evidence was insufficient to show that she had acquired a domicile in Rome.  The trial court denied relief from the assessment. On appeal, the executor challenged the aforementioned decision.

Issue:

Was Emilie Hanewinkle a resident of the State of Virginia at the time of her death, and therefore subject to the State’s tax laws?

Answer:

No.

Conclusion:

The Court held that the Miss Hanewinkle was not a resident of the State, within the meaning of the tax laws, at the time of her death. According to the Court, the evidence showed that Miss Hanewinkle undoubtedly intended to give up her abode and residence in the State of Virginia, and in pursuance of that intention, she physically became a resident of Rome, Italy. Furthermore, the Court held that the evidence strongly supported the presumption that she intended to make Italy her domicile; therefore, she abandoned her domicile in the State of Virginia and was not subject to taxation. The Court asserted that domicile meant more than resident. Domicile was residence at a particular place, accompanied by intention to remain there for an unlimited time. Both residence and intention to remain there must concur to constitute domicile.

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