AQUILINO V. UNITED STATES, 363 U. S. 509 (1960)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Aquilino v. United States, 363 U.S. 509 (1960)

Aquilino v. United States

No. 1

Argued October 15, 1959

Decided June 20, 1960

363 U.S. 509


A general contractor having defaulted both on the payment of federal taxes and on the payment of amounts due to subcontractors who had supplied labor and materials on a construction job in New York State, and the subcontractors having sued to foreclose their mechanics' liens, the owner of the real estate paid into court the amount remaining due under the construction contract. Under §§ 3670 and 3671 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1939, the United States claimed priority for its tax lien on the "property and rights to property" of the defaulting general contractor. The subcontractors claimed that, under § 36-a of the New York Lien Law, the amounts due to the general contractor from the owner constituted "trust funds" in the hands of the general contractor for the benefit of subcontractors, laborers and materialmen, to the extent of their unpaid claims, and that, therefore, the general contractor had no "property" or "rights to property" in the fund to which the Government's tax lien could attach. Without clearly determining what property rights, if any, the general contractor had in the fund under state law, the Court of Appeals of New York decided in favor of the United States.

Held: the judgment is vacated, and the case is remanded to the Court of Appeals of New York so that it may ascertain the property interests of the taxpayer under state law and then dispose of the case in accordance with established federal law. Pp. 363 U. S. 510-516.

3 N.Y.2d 511, 146 N.E.2d 774, judgment vacated and cause remanded.

Page 363 U. S. 510

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