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Under the annual accounting system dictated by the Code, each year's tax must be definitively calculable at the end of the tax year. 'It is the essence of any system of taxation that it should produce revenue ascertainable, and payable to the government, at regular intervals.' Burnet v. Sanford & Brooks Co., supra, at 282 U. S. 365. In cases arising under the claim-of-right doctrine, this emphasis on the annual accounting period normally requires that the tax consequences of a receipt should not determine the size of the deduction allowable in the year of repayment. There is no requirement that the deduction save the taxpayer the exact amount of taxes he paid because of the inclusion of the item in income for a prior year. 

 

Nevertheless, the annual accounting concept does not require anyone to close our eyes to what happened in prior years. For instance, it is well settled that the prior year may be examined to determine whether the repayment gives rise to a regular loss or a capital loss. Arrowsmith v. Commissioner, 344 U. S. 6 (1952). The rationale for the Arrowsmith rule is easy to see; if money was ...

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