SSR 61-29. JOINT OWNERSHIP OF FARM
- Where a brother and sister owned a farm property as tenants-in-common and the brother operated the farm business as his own enterprise, and where the sister did not participate in any way in the operation or management of the farm business but lived on the farm property with her brother and concerned herself primarily with the household tasks, and the brother maintained the household with funds derived from the farm operation; held, the sister was not a partner of her brother in the operation of the farm business and, therefore, no part of the income from the farm operation would be includible in computing her net earnings from self-employment for social security purposes.
In 1939 S joined with her brother, B, in the purchase of certain farm land. At the time of the purchaseS had been living and working in the city for several years. In 1942, S left the city to live on the farm and to keep house for her brother and her father who was ill. In the meantime, B, an experienced farmer, had operated the farm on the land purchased by him and S, and has continued to operate it through the years. B has always been considered the sole operator of the farm by those with whom he dealt. All contracts for the sale of the farm products have always been in B's name, and all receipts from the sales are deposited in a bank account which is in B's name only. Since coming to live on the farm, S has taken no part in the operation or management of the farm business but has occupied herself exclusively with housework, and B has given her money as she has needed it for herself and the house.
The question is whether S is a partner of B for the purpose of determining whether income derived from the operation of the farm may be included in computing her net earnings from self-employment for social security purposes.
Section 211(a) of the Social Security Act provides, in pertinent part, for the inclusion of the distributive share of income from a trade or business carried on by a partnership of which an individual is a member in computing the net earnings from self-employment of such individual. Section 211(d) of the Act provides that the terms "partnership" and "partner" shall have the same meaning as when used in subchapter K of chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954.
In determining whether a partnership existed within the meaning of section 211(d) of the Act, the question is whether the partners actually intended to join together for the purpose of carrying on the business and sharing in the profits and losses or both. Their intention in this respect is a question of fact, to be determined from their agreement, their conduct, their statements, the testimony of disinterested persons, the relationship of the parties, their respective abilities and capital contributions, the actual control of income and the purposes for which it is used, and any other facts throwing light on their true intent.
The fact that jointly-owned assets are used in carrying on a business activity will not of itself establish a partnership. There must be a co-ownership of the business, as distinguished from the assets. Ownership of property by tenants-in-common does not make such tenants partners in the absence of an intention to become partners.
In the present case, the ownership interests of S and B in the farm property were distinct from their interests in the farm business conducted on the property. There was never any intent on the part of S and B to join together in conducting the farm business. B managed all phases of the business, made all decisions regarding it,a nd received and controlled the income derived from the business. Although S had joined with him in purchasing the land, she took no part in the operation of the farm business, but concerned herself exclusively with the housework.
Accordingly, it is held that S was not a partner of B in the operation of the farm business and therefore no part of the income from the business is includible in computing her net earnings from self-employment for social security purposes.