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BEFORE THE STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA

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BEFORE THE STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
BEFORE THE STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION
OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA
In.the Matter of the Appeals of
RC!eERT E. AND M. E. HINK
)
LESTER W., JR. AND BERTHA M. HINK )
For Appellants:
William H. Coburn, Jr.
Attorney at Law
.For Respondent:
John A. Stilwell, Jr.
Counsel
O P I N I O N
These appeals are made pursuant to section 18593 of the
Revenue and Taxation Code from the action of the Franchise Tax Board on
the protests of Robert E. and M. E. Hink and of Lester W., Jr., and
Bertha M. Rink against proposed assessments of al-ldftlonal personal
income tax In the amounts of $3,173.65 and $607.74, respectively, for
the year 1977,
-286-
Appeals of Robert E. and M. E. Hink
and Lester W., Jr. and Bertha -M. HinkThe sole question for decision in these appeals i!; whether
loans to their closely-held corporation by appellants (hereinafter,
"appellants" will refer only to Robert E, Hink and Lester W. Hink, Jr.),
who were both employees and shareholders. of the corporation in. the year
Because of the
at issue, constitute business or nonbusiness debts.
and
legal
principles
involved
i.n each case,
identity of facts, issue>
the two appeals are consolidated for purposes of this opinion.
J. P. Hink and Son (hereinafter "the corporation") is a
closely-held California corporation formed in 1907 by L. W. ILink, Sr.,
appellants' father. The corporation's sole business is the operation
of one retail department store located in Berkeley, California.
Its
assets consist solely of trade fixtures, stock-in-trade and cash.
Appellants' father, L. W. Hink, Sr,, 'controlled the corporation as
president and manager until 1975. In 1975, in order to reverse certain
financial setbacks, the corporation's bank demanded that appellants'
father, then in his nineties, resign as president and manager of the
Accordingly,
after a lifetime of holding various
corporation.
positions for the corporation, appellant Robert Hink was appointed
president. and appellant Lester W. Hink, Jr., was placed in charge of
In spite of the change in
shipping and receiving merchandise.
management, the corporation's financial troubles continued.
In 1977,
the corporation's bank demanded that all obligations owed to it be
repaid as soon as possible. The bank also informed appellants that it
The corporation
would not make any new loans to the corporation.
desperately tried to secure new financing.
However, appellants
believed *'that the critical funds would be forthcoming only from
someone who 'had a special and intense incentive or by selling the
business. to some interest which had the desire to acquire it."
Appellants concluded that they were the only ones with such a "special
and intense incentive." Therefore, in March and .April 1977, appellant
Robert Wink loaned $91,900 to the corporation while appellant Lester
Hink, Jr., loaned $31,716.02.
In spite of these last minute efforts,
on November 8, 1977, Chapter XI bankruptcy proceedings were filed on
behalf of the corporation. On November 10, 1977, the corporation was
purchased from the appellants and the other shareholders by C. H.
Dunlap Company. Appellants each received $332.90 or 50 cents a share
for their 665.79 shares. The Order Confirming Plan in the bankruptcy
proceeding filed January 20, 1978, provided, among other things, that
the appellants would be repaid only 40 percent of their loans to the
corporation.
Because of the fact that 40 percent of the loans to the
corporation were unpaid and became worthless in the 1977 y bankruptcy
proceeding, appellants Robert Hink and Lester Hink reported business
bad debts of $56,875 and $20,051, respectively, deductible a:; ordinary
losses in their 1977 returns. Appellants contend that they made the
subject loans in order to preserve and' to continue their employment
-287-
0
'Appeals of Robert E. and M. E. Hink
and Lester W., Jr. and Bertha M. Hink
with the corporation.
However, on audit,. respondent concluded that
appellants' dominant motive for making the loans was not related to
their trade or business and, accordingly, respondent disallowed such
business bad debt deductions and, instead, allowed nonbusiness bad debt
That
deductions to each, deductible as short-term capital losses.
action gave rise to these timely appeals.
determination to
that respondent's
It is well settled
dfsallow a deduction is presumed correct and the burden of proof is
upon the taxpayer to establish his entitlement to it. (New Colonial Ice
Co. v. Helvering, 292 U.S. 435 [78 L.Ed. 13481 (1934); Appeal of Robert
CErilane, Cal. St. Bd. of Equal., Nov. 12, 1974.) Business bad debt
losses are fully deductible against taxable income in the year
sustained, whereas nonbusiness bad debt losses are regarded as
short-term capital losses which are deductible only to the extent of
capital gains, plus taxable income or one thousand dollars, whichever
13 less (Rev. & Tax. Code, §S 17207 and 18152.).
For purposes of the bad debt deduction, Revenue and Taxation
Code section 17207, subdivision (d)(2), defines a "nonbusiness debt" as
a debt other than one created, or incurred in connection with the
taxpayer's trade or business. Thus, in order to deduct the advances in
question as "business bad debts," appellants must establish that such
loans were created or incurred in connection with their trade or
business. It is now well settled that being an employee may be a trade
or business for the purposes of the bad debts section. (Trent v.
Accordingly, if the
Commissioner, 291 F.2d 669 (2nd Cir. 1961).)
appellants' loans to the corporation were 'made in order to protect
their jobs or were otherwise related thereto, the resulting debts are
(Isidor Jaffee, B
"business debts" deductible against taxable income.
67,215 P-H Memo. T.C. (1967).) On the other: hand, where .the motivation
for the loans is that of an investor and gain is sought in the form of
an increase in the value of the investment or in dividends, those loans
(Whipple v. Comrr$ss$oner, 373 U.S. 193 [lo
are "nonbusiness debts."
L.Ed.2d 2881 (1963); Appeals of Walter E. and Pearl Robertson, et al.,
Cal. St. Bd. of Equal., June 2, 1969.)
0
The difficulty in determining the proper classification of
the instant debts is a result of the fact that each of the appellants
had a dual status with respect to the corporation in the year at
Each was both a shareholder and an employee.
issue.
In such
situations, the requisite relationship between the taxpayer's trade or
business as an employee and the loss is established only if the
taxpayer's dominant motivation in entering into the loan was the
protection of the employee interest.
(United States v. Generes, 4G5
U.S. 93 .[31 L.Ed.2d 621 (1972); Appeal of James C. and Antoinette
Glaser, Cal. St. Bd. of Equal., Sept. 28, 1977.) "Dominant," for these
purposes,
is defined as "the most important reason" or "primary
reason.Significant motivation is not enough.
(United States v.
Generes, supra.)
-_
-288-
Appeals of Robert E. and M. E. Hink
and Lester W., Jr. and Bertha 14. Hink
Appellant .Lester W. Hink, Jr., stated that his "dominant
motive in making the loans was- to continue [his] employment and, thus,
have an income. . . .” He explained:
In 1977 I was 59 years,of age and with very limited
personal assets.
I was too young to collect Socia:L
Security, had no skills, which lead [sic] me to believe
that .at my age I could not obtain employment. with any
other person or organization.
I believed and still!
believe, that if I did not make a loan to J. F. Hink &
soon be unemployed and
Son that I would very
unemployable. . . .
Appellant Robert Kink echoed his‘brother's sentiments:
[In 19771 I was. 57 years old and with limited
personal assets.
Considering my age and limited
business experience, it was extremely doubtful that I
could obtain employment of any kind with any other
person or organization in the event the business
terminated for whatever reason.
I was too young for
Social Security.
I believed then, and I still believe, that if the
loans were not made to J. F. Hink & Son, I would have
soon been unemployed and unemployable.
My dominant
motive in making
the loans was to continue my
employment, and thus, have an income on which to
live.
yet, Robert Hink's salary history indicates that he had been paid only
a modest salary, both before and after he was appointed president of
the corporation. He earned $20,025 in 1973, $21,069 in 1974, $21,563
in 1975, $23,581 in 1976, $21,034 in 1977, and $18,173 in 1978.
Moreover, while a detailed salary history of appellant Lester W. Hink,
Jr., is not available, the record does indicate that he accepted a
salary reduction from $19,000 to $15,000 for 1977.
Robert Rink
explained that the reason "he had always worked at an extremely low
salary . . . [was due to] the expectation that the Hink's .stock gifted
to him was enhancing in value and would yield handsomely'at the time of
future sale."
In addition, the reason for Lester Hink's salary
reduction was to preclude any "suggestion of self-indulgence on ,the
part of the Hink family . . . [which might deter] persons willing to
put $l,OOO,OOO into our company to save it." It would thus appear that
appellants were quite concerned about their investment in the
corporation. Indeed, as indicated above, as of October 15, 1.975, each
appellant owned 665.79 shares of the corporation's total outstanding
shares of 4,676.20 with a basis to each of-$71,555.52. Moreover, after
the sale of the corporation to C. H. Dunlap Company, both appellants
continued their employment with the corporation.
-289-
Appeals of Robert E. and M. E:Htnk
and.Lester W., Jr. and Bertha M; Hink
’
For the reasons that follow, we believe that appellants have
not established that their dominant motive in making the loans was to
protect their jobs. Therefore, we believe respondent's action must be
Where the ,salary at issue is small compared to the
sustained.
investment at stake, it is difficult’ to prove that a loan was necessary
For example, in United States v. Generes, supra, the
to keep a job.
comparison of a $7,000 salary to a $38,900 investment was a factor in
.determining that protecting the taxpayer's job was not the dominant
In the instant case, while. a precise measure may' be
motivation.
difficult, it is c,lear that appellants' investments in the corporation
As noted above,
were substantial and certainly significant to 'them.
the basis to each of the appellants in his stock was $71,555.52. Ils
indicated above, appellant Robert Hink had an expectation that, the
stock gifted to him "was enhancing in value." The expectation of a
handsome yield at a future sale was the reason that Robert Hink was
willing to work at "an extremely low salary." Between 1973 and 1978,
Robert's average annual salary was between $20,000 and $21,000 while
Lester's appears to have been below,$19,OOG. Accordingly, as in United
States v. Generes, supra, comparison of the appellants' admittedly
"extremely low" salaries to their investments makes it difficult to
show that the subject loans were made in order to keep their jobs.
Appellants Robert Hink and Lester Hink, Jr:, however, argue
that because of their limited business experience and because of their
ages -In' 1977, 57,and 59, respectively, it would have been extremely
difficult for them to replace their jobs.
We cannot agree.
First,
'nothing in the record indicates. that the skills possessed by appellants
were unique.
It would.appear that the skills obtained in working for a
large retail enterprise would be readily marketable elsewhere. Indeed,
unlike the taxpayer in Charles J. Haslam, B 74,097 P-H Memo. T.C.
(1974), who had to obtain employment in a field unrelated to his
prevsous job as an explosives expert at a salary less than he had been
earning, appellants found immediate employment.
Moreover, since the
appellants admittedly worked at "extremely low salaries," a salary
reduction may have been unnecessary.
Indeed, the record does not
indicate that the appellants suffered any salary reduction.
Second,
unlike the taxpayer in Isidor Jaffee, supra, who was 72 years old at
the date at issue and who never worked again, appellants were
relatively young and, in'fact, did find other employment. Lastly, the
letter confirming Lester Hink's acceptance of a salary reduction from
$19,000 to $15,000 sheds some light on the motivation of the
appellants.
Appellants were most interested in finding "persons
willing to put $l,OOO,OOO into our company to save it." In comparison,
their salaries and their jobs were much less important.
Again, appellants have not established that the "dcminant
motive" or the "most important reason* for making the subject loans was
the preservation of their jobs and, accordingly, the respondent's
determination must be sustained.
-290-
Appeals of Robert E. ahd M. E. Rink
_ and Lester W., Jr. and Bertha M. Hink
.-
0
O R D E R
Pursuant to the yiews expressed in the opinion of the board
on file in these proceedings, and good cause appearing therefor,
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED, pur,suant to
section 18595 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, that the action of the
Franchise Tax Board on the protests of Robert E. and M. E. Hink and of
Lester W., Jr., and Bertha M. Wink against proposed assessments of
additional personal income tax.in the amounts of $3,173.65 and $607.74,
respectively, for the year 1977 be and the same is hereby sustained.
Done at Sacramento, California, this 5th day of April .,
1983, by the State Board of Equalization, with Board Members
Mr. Bennett, Mr. Collis, Mr. Dronenburg, Mr. Nevins and
Mr. Harvey present.‘
, Chairman
William M. Bennett
Conway H. Collis
,
Member
Richard Nevins
,
Member
Walter Harvey*
,
Member
, Member
*For Kenneth Cory, per'Governmenfi Code Section 7.9
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