Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff filed suit to reversed and IRS determination that legal fees were not an ordinary and necessary business expense. Plaintiff spent in excess of $26,000 defending her purchase of stock of a corporation owning sale and distribution rights of coca-cola syrup.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Legal expenses defending title to property are not ordinary and necessary expenses of carrying on a trade or business may be deducted from gross income.
Under 23(a), as it was prior to the amendment, it was firmly established that legal expenses involved in defending or protecting title to property are not ordinary and necessary expenses and are not deductible from gross income in order to compute the taxable net income, but constitute a capital charge which should be added to the cost of the property and taken into account in computing the capital gain or loss in case of a subsequent sale.View Full Point of Law
Issue. May Plaintiff claims the litigation costs as a deduction?
Held. Circuit Judge Soper issued the opinion for the United States Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in reversing the District Court and holding that the deduction should not be allowed.
Discussion. The Court Appeals found that money spent in defending or perfecting title to property is a cost of the property and not a deductible expense. In this case, Plaintiff’s legal fees were for defending the ownership stock, and are not “ordinary and necessary expenses” that may be deducted from gross income.