Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Farid But Were Afraid to Ask

49 Pages Posted: 25 Sep 2012 Last revised: 12 Jan 2013

See all articles by Linda Galler

Linda Galler

Hofstra University - Maurice A. Deane School of Law

Date Written: September 9, 2012


If you are or have been a student of federal income tax, chances are that you have studied Farid-Es-Sultaneh v. Commissioner, 160 F.2d 812 (2d Cir. 1947), a case addressing a wife’s tax basis in stock received under the terms of a prenuptial agreement. This opinion is included in most basic tax casebooks and is frequently cited by tax scholars and practitioners for the black letter principle that it espouses. Over the last year or so, I have embarked on an archaeology project of sorts, searching for the story behind the case. This article reflects the results of that journey.

The research project resulted in a rather surprising find, however. The facts placed before, and relied upon by, the courts in Farid were not the real facts. The facts as they actually occurred would have resulted in a completely different outcome! On a broader level, the lessons from this discrepancy have implications for many fields of legal study. These are discussed and analyzed in the article.

After describing the differences between the fictional version, which the lower and appellate courts relied upon in reaching a decision favorable to Ms. Farid, and the real version, the article explores the possible motives of counsel (for both sides) in stipulating to facts that were untrue. It concludes that strategic advantage probably induced them to agree to the facts. The article then considers the broader implications of counsel’s actions with respect to the disparity in the contexts of substantive tax law, litigation strategy generally and the constraints of the rules of lawyers’ ethics.

JEL Classification: H24, K34

Suggested Citation

Galler, Linda, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Farid But Were Afraid to Ask (September 9, 2012). Florida Tax Review, Vol. 13, 2012; Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-22. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2151419

Linda Galler (Contact Author)

Hofstra University - Maurice A. Deane School of Law ( email )

121 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
United States
516-463-5895 (Phone)

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