The right to deduct; an ancient right to a king upon the property of a foreigner who died within the king's territory, to a portion of the decedent's estate.
Also known as droit de détraction or jus detractis.
Jus detractus is a milder form of droit d'aubaine, both of which find few proponents in the nations of the modern world given the thrust towards free trade and the movement of persons and goods.
In 1968, the Supreme Court of the United States, in Zschernig v Miller, with Justice William Orville Douglas writing the opinion of the court, defined jus detractus (droit de détraction) as follows:
"The droit de détraction (was), a tax imposed on the right of an alien to inherit the property of persons dying within the realm and levied upon the removal of the inherited property by the alien from the decedent's country."
The concept of jus detractus was described by Simeon Baldwin in his Yale Law Journal article:
"Under the jus detractus, the sovereign, within whose dominions a foreigner chanced to die, no longer claimed title to all his goods, unless no will and no next of kin were anywhere to be found. He was content with part, and, after making this detraction, or, as we would say, subtraction, gave up the rest to the natural heirs, or those to whom it might have been bequeathed by will.
"So if a subject of his own should die, leaving a will in favor of foreigners, or having only foreign heirs, they were admitted to the succession, subject to a detraction of the same kind.
"The percentages retained, in either case as time went on, became more and more moderate. Reciprocal conventions between different nations for their regulation in this respect were not uncommon.
"Five per cent (5%), which was the duty imposed in the first inheritance tax law of Rome - the vicesima hereditatum et legatorum decreed by Augustus, became not an unusual rate to fix by such."