FRANK, Circuit Judge.
This case arises under the Capital Stock Tax Act (being § 105(a) of the Revenue Act of 1935 as amended, 26 U.S.C.A. Int. Rev.Acts, page 798), under which, for each year ending June 30, there is "imposed upon every domestic corporation with respect to carrying on or doing business for any part of such year an excise tax of $1 for each $1,000 of the adjudged declared value of its capital stock."
Appellee, a corporation organized under the laws of the State of New York, which had been in the business of building and repairing ships, filed a petition for reorganization under § 77B of the Bankruptcy Act, 11 U.S.C.A. § 207, on July 23, 1934; on the same date, the Bankruptcy Court entered an order (which it later made "permanent") approving the petition as filed, and continuing appellee, as debtor, in possession of its property and estate. On September 29, 1936, appellee filed a return, under the Capital Stock Tax Act, for the year July 1, 1935, to June 30, 1936, and on the same date paid to the collector the capital stock taxes shown in that return. A plan of reorganization was subsequently effected in the reorganization proceedings, and, in 1937, a final decree was entered discharging appellee from its debts and liabilities and terminating the proceedings. In 1938, appellee filed a claim for refund of the taxes paid, on the ground that it had not carried on any business during the taxable year which made it subject to the tax. The claim having been rejected, appellee brought this suit for refund.
In United States v. Whitridge, 231 U.S. 144, 34 S.Ct. 24, 58 L.Ed. 159, the court held that, where equity receivers were appointed for certain corporations, and the receivers carried on the business, there was not collectible a special corporate excise tax, then in force, imposed "with respect to the carrying on or doing business by" corporations. The court said that the receivers, in managing and operating the
No doubt because of that decision, there were issued, under the statute here before us, Treasury Regulations 64, Article 35, reading: "* * * If during any entire year ending June 30th, all of the property of a corporation is in the hands of such public official (i.e., a receiver, or a trustee in bankruptcy, or is in the custody of a federal or state officer pending the appointment of a receiver or trustee in bankruptcy), the corporation is not subject to the tax for such year * * *." However, Article 42 of the same Regulations provides: "Doing Business — The term `business' is very comprehensive and embraces whatever occupies the time, attention, or labor of men for profit. Accordingly, regardless of the nature of its activities, any corporation organized for profit and carrying out the purpose of its organization is doing business within the meaning of the Act. Similarly, even if not organized for profit, any corporation which nevertheless engages in activities ordinarily carried on for profit is also doing business. It is immaterial whether the activities result in a profit or a loss, whether the corporation has been successful in its enterprise, or that because of unfavorable business conditions, no operations are carried on for a particular period. No particular amount of business need be done, nor is it necessary that the business be continuous throughout the taxable year. The case is exceptional in which the activities of a corporation organized for profit do not amount to doing business within the meaning of the Act. Such a case is generally limited to one in which the corporation is not pursuing the ends for which organized, i.e., profit."
Appellee contends that there is no distinction between a debtor continued in possession under § 77B and an equity receiver or a trustee in bankruptcy, and that, accordingly, under the doctrine of the Whitridge case, no tax was due from it. In support of its contention, appellee cites and quotes from In re Walker, 2 Cir., 93 F.2d 281, 283, where it was said that the purpose of the provision continuing a debtor in possession "is certainly that the debtor shall be in fact a trustee," and In re Martin Custom Made Tires Corp., 2 Cir. 108 F.2d 172, 173, where it was said: "The attempted distinction between the powers of a debtor in possession and the rights of a trustee in bankruptcy is unreal. A debtor in possession holds its powers in trust for the benefit of the creditors." We cannot agree that those cases are in point.
It would be time-saving if we had a descriptive catalogue of recurrent types of fallacies encountered in arguments addressed to the courts, giving each of them a number, so that, in a particular case, we could say, "This is an instance of Fallacy No. —"
A debtor company in possession in not a receiver or trustee. It is, as we said, in Re Wil-Low Cafeterias, Inc., 2 Cir., 111 F.2d 83, 85, "analogous to" a trustee, i.e., it is, for some purposes, to be treated as if it were a trustee. For the corporation debtor is still carrying on or doing business, although the manner in which it can operate is restricted by trustee obligations imposed by the Bankruptcy Act. Indeed it was, in part, out of a desire to preserve a continuity of management and the complete loss of the advantages and privileges which accompany such a continuation that section 77B departed (unwisely according to many critics) from all previous provisions of the Bankruptcy Act and deviated markedly from well-settled equity receivership practice, in allowing the debtor, although plainly not a disinterested person, to remain in possession and continue operations.
Appellee argues that there was no provision contained in its articles of incorporation giving it authority to do business as a corporate trustee. That fact surely does not help appellee's argument. For it shows that appellee could not, lawfully, have served as a trustee in bankruptcy for any other person. It follows, then, that it had not ceased to engage in its regular business of shipbuilding and repairing ships and, instead, taken on the business of acting as a trustee in bankruptcy (for itself), since it had no authority to do so under the laws of the state of its incorporation. The plain truth is that it was still doing its business, but subject to limitations, under the Bankruptcy
There is thus a need to revise a fictional major premise, expressed as a legal rule, in the light of the consequences revealed by logic, when the minor or fact premise departs too far from the facts with reference to which the major premise was originally formulated.
Modern semanticists have done much to expose that need. However, some of them have done so with insufficient acknowledgment that they were not the discoverers of the treacherous nature of words and of their tendency to tyrannize thinking; that discovery goes back at least to Plato and Aristotle; see Ogden & Richards, The Meaning of Meaning (4th Ed. 1938) 31-38; nor were the scholastics always as unaware of these word-dangers as some persons (under Francis Bacon's indirect influence) suppose. Some modern semanticists, too, have an inadequate grasp of the indispensability of general statements and abstractions (indeed of the realities of the relations expressed by some abstractions) and of the inestimable utility of fictions and other metaphorical expressions — if employed consciously as such.