The case at hand is Emanuel Hollman, 38 T.C. 251 (1963). Through his guardian ad litem, the petitioner, Hollman, sought the court’s determination of certain tax deficiencies and additions to his tax liability. The matter pertinent to this discussion was if Hollman was entitled to an exemption for blindness for the years 1953, 1954, and 1955. Section 151(d)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 defines blindness as an individual’s central visual acuity that does not exceed 20/200 in the better eye with correcting lenses, or if his visual acuity is greater than 20/200 but is accompanied by a limitation in the fields of vision such that the widest diameter of the visual field subtends an angle no greater than 20 degrees.
Hollman was blind under the definition of section 151(d)(3) of the 1954 code at the end of years 1951-1955. Hollman’s vision was not better than 20/200 in either eye, and could not be improved by glasses. Wearing the lenses improved his vision to 20/60 and 20/70 in the right and left eyes, respectively. He could not wear the lenses every day as they caused corneal ulcers, infection, and purulent material to accumulate in the lenses. A qualified ophthalmologist examined Hollman and testified that his eyes met the statute’s conditions.
The court believed that the only way they could reject the ophthalmologist’s testimony was if Hollman’s vision could be corrected beyond the minimum statutory requirements by a special type of lens. Also, the court thought that Congress intended the term “contact lenses” to refer to lenses that were worn normally and ordinarily by the taxpayer. Since Hollman could only wear the lenses for brief periods of time while enduring severe pain, the court agreed with the conclusion of the ophthalmologist and held that Hollman was entitled to the exemption.
The issue with Larry exhibits strongly similar facts as the case of Hollman. Larry has claimed the additional deduction to blind taxpayers in the past just as Hollman had. Larry was prescribed contact lenses that would improve his vision, but the lenses also had side effects. Wearing the lenses for prolonged periods caused severe pain, infection and ulcers, which were almost the same effects from which Hollman suffered. The lenses were removed, and Larry’s doctor instructed him to only wear the lenses for brief periods of time to keep the problems from reoccurring.
Larry is unable to wear the lenses normally and ordinarily, so as in the case with Hollman, the lenses do not fall under the definition of the term “contact lenses” that Congress intended. In conclusion, Larry and Hollman’s situations are practically identical. Although the lenses improve Larry’s vision, he is unable to wear them enough to improve his vision above the blindness requirements set by section 151(d)(3) of the 1954 Code. Based on analysis of the Hollman case, Larry should be entitled to claim the additional standard deduction available to blind taxpayers.
Courtney from Study Moose
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