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Thor Power Tool Company v. Commissioner
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Supreme Court of the United States
Argued November 1, 1978
Decided January 16, 1979
Full case name Thor Power Tool Company v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue
Citations 439 U.S. 522 (more)
439 U.S. 522
The Commissioner did not abuse his discretion in determining that the write-down of "excess" inventory failed to reflect petitioner's 1964 income clearly, since the write-down was plainly inconsistent with the governing Regulations.
Court membership
Case opinions
Majority Blackmun, joined by unanimous court

Thor Power Tool Company v. Commissioner, 439 U.S. 522 (1979) was a United States Supreme Court ruling which changed the way companies are allowed to depreciate their unsold inventory. Thor’s inventory was overestimated, and was written down to scrap, but it did not immediately scrap the items or sell them at reduced prices. Thor treated the write-down of excess inventory as an adjustment to closing inventory increasing the costs of goods sold and reducing tax due. Reducing tax liability may not have been the drive behind Thor management's incentive to reduce inventory, but a welcome by-product; new management may have wanted to reduce the previous year's profits so as to seemingly increase their performance in the following year.

An unforeseen side effect of this decision was that it became less profitable for publishers to keep slowly but regularly selling books in print (their backlist). Some argue that this has made it harder for midlist authors to make a living because books tend to be remaindered or pulped and go out of print more quickly.[1]

Professor Calvin H. Johnson – previously of Rutgers State University and now Professor of Law at the University of Texas at Austin – was a heavy influence in Judge Blackmun's judgement, having written the brief for the Internal Revenue Commissioner.

See also

Further reading

  • Stadtmauer, G. (1979). "Generally Accepted Accounting Principles as a Reflection of Income: Thor Power Tool Company v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue". Capital University Law Review 9: 775. ISSN 01989693.  

External links



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