Federal Tax Research

 

Scope

This research guide is designed to assist students, scholars, and practitioners in researching United States tax law.  Federal tax law is composed of statutes, treaties, regulations, rulings, and judicial decisions from the government’s executive, legislative, and judicial branches.  This guide also offers sources for current awareness in tax law, including updates on case law, legislation, and legal news.  

 

 

Introduction to Tax Research in the Ross-Blakley Law Library

The call numbers on this page link to Ross-Blakley Library catalog records, which provide information about location and availability of items in the Library collection.  Many of the Library’s print tax resources can be found in the Tax Collection on the second floor and appear in the online catalog with the location code “Law Tax.”  Some print titles have been moved to online access through tax databases, indicated in the online catalog by the location code “Online access.”

 

Research Guides

Research guides are very helpful when researching tax law, as they provide both explanation of the subject matter and direction for locating publications where tax documentation can be found.

 

Federal Tax Research: Guide to Materials and Techniques (Gail Richmond, Foundation Press, 2010)

Federal Tax Research lists and describes primary and secondary sources of federal tax law, provides information about finding those materials, and discusses how to evaluate the materials you have found.  The author also devotes a chapter to the process of conducting research, where she covers research methodology and offers a comparison of print and electronic research resources.  For individuals looking to practice their research techniques, the text includes practice problems at the end of each chapter.

KF241.T38 R5 2010

 

West's Federal Tax Research (William A. Raabe et al., South-Western College/West Publishing Co., 2003)

This text, written for those already familiar with the fundamentals of federal income and transfer tax law, provides an introduction to tax practice, offers information about locating primary sources of federal tax law, and contains a detailed discussion of computer research tools for the tax researcher.

KF241.T38 R33 2003

 

Federal Income Tax: A Legal Research Guide (Christopher C. Dykes, William S. Hein & Co., 2010)

This tax research guide discusses the primary sources of federal income tax, the ways in which they tie together, and where to locate them.  It also provides an overview of the different types of secondary resources and covers researching specific areas of tax law.  The book analyzes both print and online resources.

KF240 .L424

 

“Federal Income Taxation” in Specialized Legal Research (Mary A. Hotchkiss, Aspen Publishers, 2012)

Specialized Legal Research is a loose-leaf publication which details the research process for 13 areas of law, with chapter 3 devoted to federal income taxation.  This chapter includes sections on the statutory basis of tax law, sources of legislative histories, and IRS guidance, as well as resources such as judicial decisions, tax court decisions, and treaties. The chapter also contains a concordance of selected tax legislation, a federal income taxation bibliography, and an appendix which lists federal income tax websites (news, government, tax courts, tax treaties, legislative history, and much more).

KF240 .S64 1987

 

Taxcite: A Federal Tax Citation and Reference Manual (ABA Section of Taxation with Virginia Tax Association, 1995)

TaxCite provides a full listing of common tax citation forms and offers easily understood examples.  It also has a “Practitioners Guide,” which contains citation formats for briefs submitted to the U.S. Tax Court.

KF245 .T39 1995

 

U.S. Federal Tax Research (Peter a. Lowy, BNA Tax Management Portfolios, 2005)

This BNA Tax Management Portfolio explains the fundamentals of federal tax research by describing the many types of authority governing federal tax issues and discussing their precedential value.  It also offers a general methodology for performing tax research, including listing resources available to the researcher from both the government and commercial publishers.

KF6297 .T39 and online access BNA  

 

U.S. Tax Overview: Structure of the Federal Tax System of the United States (Emory, Lischer, and Polito)

This BNA publication provides a broad overview of the numerous component parts of the U.S. federal tax system.  Chapters 1 through VIII describe the income tax, with later chapters covering the tax treatment of tax-exempt organizations, estates and trusts, corporations, and partnerships.  The publication also discusses international income tax law, the alternative minimum tax, the U.S. transfer tax system, excise taxes, and federal tax administration and procedure.  Various Tax Management Portfolios are referenced  throughout the text, which the reader can refer to for greater detail on specific subjects.

Online access BNA

 

Online Research Databases

There are several comprehensive online tax research databases which collect and organize materials and have sophisticated searching capabilities.  These databases are primarily developed for use by experienced tax professionals.  For an overview and comparison of online tax research databases researchers can consult The Virtual Tax Library: A Comparison of Five Electronic Tax Research Platforms by Katherine Pratt et al., 8 Flor. Tax Rev. 933 (2008).

 

BNA Tax and Accounting Center

The BNA Tax and Accounting Center provides access to primary sources, including the Internal Revenue Code, Treasury Regulations, IRS Proposed Regulations, and federal tax cases and treaties.  It also includes U.S. Income Portfolios, Estate, Gifts & Trusts Portfolios, Foreign Income Portfolios, the Daily Tax Report, and journal articles. The database contains similar resources for state tax materials, and some international tax resources.

  • Access: BNA databases are available on the public access computers located in the first floor reading room of the Library.  College of Law faculty, staff, and students can access BNA databases remotely after obtaining a BNA password from a reference librarian or via ASURITE.  BNA Tax Management portfolios are also available on Reserve at the Library and through Bloomberg Law.

CCH Tax Research Network

The CCH Tax Research Network provides access to federal and state tax codes and cases. The database includes Letter Rulings, IRS Positions (including TAMs and FSAs) and IRS Publications.   It also contains the Standard Federal Income Tax Reporter and the Tax Treaties Reporter.  Additionally, the database offers Tax Tracker News, a collection of daily journals, which can be customized by subject and jurisdiction and received as an email alert.

  • Access: CCH databases are available on the ASU computer network, including remote access for ASU faculty, staff, and students. 

RIA Checkpoint

The RIA Checkpoint Tax Database offers access to federal, state, and local tax laws and regulations, IRS rulings and releases, IRS forms and publications, and much more.  It contains the Federal Tax Coordinator 2d, United States Tax Reporter, Internal Revenue Bulletin, and has selected Warren Gorham & Lamont tax journals and treatises.  Checkpoint also provides access to tax news via daily updates from RIA Daily Updates, BNA Daily Tax Report, IBFD Tax News Service, and WG&L Journal Previews.

  • Access: RIA Checkpoint is available on the ASU computer network, including remote access for ASU faculty, staff, and students. 

WestlawNext and Lexis Advance

Both WestlawNext and Lexis Advance have extensive tax libraries, with content including the Internal Revenue Code, regulations, cases, IRS ruling and pronouncements, daily and weekly current awareness services, and journals available.

  • AccessWestlawNext and Lexis Advance databases require a password.  The College of Law provides passwords to its law faculty, staff, and students.  For visitors to the library, Westlaw Patron Access and LexisNexis Academic are available on the computers in the first floor reading room.

WestlawNext

In addition to the resources listed above, WestlawNext provides the full text of Thomson-West treatises, including RIA services and Warren Gorham & Lamont titles.  A few specific Westlaw resources are listed below:

Lexis Advance

In addition to the resources listed above, Lexis Advance provides the full text of Wiley and Matthew Bender treatises.  A few specific Lexis Advance resources are listed below:

  • IRS Bulletins, Letter Rulings & Memoranda Decisions: contains IRS revenue rulings and procedures, Private Letter Rulings/Technical Advice Memorandums, General Counsel Memorandums, Actions on Decisions, Technical Memorandums, Field Service Advice, Service Center Advice, Chief Counsel Advice, Litigation Guideline Memorandums, General Litigation Bulletins, Criminal Tax Bulletins, Tax Litigation Bulletins, Chief Counsel Notices.
  • Tax Law Review Articles

 

Treatises & Other General Works

Treatises provide useful topical overviews of either general or specific areas of taxation.  They can be used as a starting point to understand the issues and collect resources for further research.  The following are a small number of the tax treatises available at the Library; please utilize the online catalog to locate others.

 

West's Tax Law Dictionary (Robert S. Smith, Thomson Reuters/West, 2013)

This dictionary provides definitions of tax terms, words, and phrases, and has extensive cross-references.  Appendixes include Summaries of Free Federal Tax Publication, Sources for Free Federal Tax Forms and Publications, Listings of Federal Tax Return Forms and Related Forms, and Listings of Federal Tax Forms Instructions.

KF6287 .W473 2011 and on WestlawNext

 

Federal Taxation of Income, Estates and Gifts (Boris I. Bittker and Lawrence Lokken, Warren, Gorham & Lamont, 2013)

Bittker’s Federal Taxation of Income, Estates and Gifts is considered the pre-eminent tax treatise, and is kept up to date through supplements.  It offers a broad-spectrum of tax information, from a discussion of the history, constitutionality, and structural principles of federal tax law, to analysis of the taxation of individuals, partnerships, corporations, non-profit organizations, and trusts and estates.  It also contains a number of statistical tables, including requirements for filing individual tax returns and tax rates on long-term capital gains.

KF6335 .B57 2005 and on WestlawNext

 

Income Tax

Mertens Law of Federal Income Taxation (Carina Bryant ed., Thomson Reuters/West, 2013)

This multi-volume treatise is the most commonly cited tax law treatise by the courts. It is arranged topically and focuses on the Internal Revenue Code, Treasury Regulations, Internal Revenue Service determinations, and court developments.  The text focuses on using cases to illustrate principles of tax law, and Volume I offers explanations of how to find information in Mertens.

KF6369 .M4 and on WestlawNext

 

Estate and Gift Tax

Estate Planning Law and Taxation (David Westfall and George Mair, Warren, Gorham & Lamont 2001, Supp. 2013)

Estate Planning Law and Taxation offers information about the tax pros and cons of estate planning decisions.  It provides guidance on such topics as separation agreements, premarital agreements, arrangements for disabilities, and generation-skipping transfer tax.  An appendix and accompanying CD-ROM include sample estate planning forms.

KF750 .W47 2001 and on WestlawNext

 

Partnership and Corporate Taxation

Partnership Taxation (Arthur B. Willis and Philip F. Postlewaite, Warren, Gorham & Lamont, 2013)

This two-volume loose-leaf treatise provides both a comprehensive explanation of partnership taxation and thorough resource material.  The text begins with an introduction to the general concepts of partnership and limited liability company (LLC) taxation.  It is then organized around the life cycle of a partnership or LLC, covering the tax consequences of formation and operation of the business organization to its termination.

KF6452 .W55 2011 and on WestlawNext

 

Federal Income Taxation of Corporations and Shareholders (Boris I. Bittker et al., Warren, Gorham & Lamont, current)

This treatise begins by defining a corporation, and goes on to cover the capital structure of a corporation, corporate income tax, corporate tax attributes, dividends and other non-liquidating distributions, stock redemptions, corporate divisions and reorganizations, and foreign corporations.  It is updated three times a year.

Available on WestlawNext

 

Federal Income Taxation of Corporations Filing Consolidated Returns (Andrew J. Dubroff et al., Matthew Bender & Co.  1997-)

This four volume loose-leaf treatise contains detailed analysis of the consolidated group, basic accounting, and intercompany accounting.  Appendices include a sample consolidated income tax return and regulatory materials.  The treatise is updated twice a year.

Available on Lexis Advance

 

Federal Income Taxation of S Corporations (James S. Eustice and Joel D. Kuntz, Warren, Gorham & Lamont, 2013)

Federal Income Taxation of S Corporations discusses the pre-history of subchapter S, and for the practitioner, presents planning problems and contains checklists and forms. 

KF6491 .E84 2001 and on WestlawNext

 

Tax-Exempt Organizations

Law of Tax-Exempt Organizations (Bruce R. Hopkins, John Wiley & Sons, 2006)

Part One of this text introduces the law of tax-exempt organizations, and includes a discussion of the rationale for tax-exempt organization, advantages and disadvantages of tax exemption, and tests for establishing a tax-exempt organization.  Part Two covers tax-exempt charitable organizations and Part Three non-charitable tax-exempt organizations.  Part Four presents general exempt organization laws, Part Five the commerciality doctrine and unrelated business income taxation, and Part Six inter-organizational structures and operational forms.

KF6449 .H6 2003  and Lexis Advance

 

Understanding Nonprofit and Tax Exempt Organizations (Nicholas Cafardi and Jaclyn Fabean Cherry, LexisNexis, 2012)

Understanding Nonprofit and Tax Exempt Organizations offers an overview of the nonprofit sector.  It explains the many types of tax exempt organizations and the tax rules and regulations which apply to them.  An appendix includes sample tax forms.

KF6449 .C34 2012

 

Journals & Magazines

Tax Law Review

The Tax Law Review, published four times annually by the New York University School of Law, is a faculty-edited journal that focuses on tax policy scholarship.  It is the premier tax law journal and publishes articles and essays by legal academics and practitioners, as well as economists.  Access to Tax Law Review content is available through HeinOnline, WestlawNext, and Lexis advance.

 

Virginia Tax Review

The Virginia Tax Review, published four times annually since 1981 by the University of Virginia School of Law, focuses primarily on issues of federal and international taxation from an academic viewpoint.  The journal is available in the Library at K26 .I732, on HeinOnline, WestlawNext and Lexis Advance.

 

The Tax Lawyer 

The American Bar Association Section of Taxation publishes the Tax Lawyer.  The journal provides scholarly articles by tax attorneys and professors, key reports by Section of Taxation committees and task forces, and student notes and comments on timely topics.  The journal is available in the Library at K24 .A84, on the American Bar Association’s Tax Lawyer webpage, on HeinOnline, and through both WestlawNext and Lexis Advance.

 

Tax Notes

Tax Notes is a weekly magazine published by Tax Analysts, a non-profit organization which provides tax news and analysis.  The magazine includes a summary of federal tax news, including tax court opinions, IRS bulletins, Chief Counsel advice, proposed regulations, public comments on regulations, Congressional correspondence, and Joint Committee on Taxation correspondence.  It also features in-depth commentary on the week’s events.  Tax Notes content is available through Lexis Advance. A daily publication (Tax Notes Today) is also available.

 

Legislative History

Legislative history documents are not law but can be helpful in determining the purpose of tax statutes.

For detailed instructions on conducting legislative-history research, see Federal Legislative History: A Research Guide. The following are specialized sources for tax legislative history.

 

HeinOnline

HeinOnline’s Taxation & Economic Reform in America Parts I & II, 1781-2010 database has the most comprehensive selection of tax legislative history materials.  The database includes the full text of dozens of tax books, economic reform books, tax legislative histories, economic reform legislative histories, and the Internal Revenue Acts from 1909 to 1950. All content is image-based in PDF format, and appears just as in the original print copy of the work.   HeinOnline is available on the ASU computer network, including remote access for ASU faculty, staff, and students. 

 

ProQuest Congressional

ProQuest Congressional is an online database that provides excellent access to all kinds of federal legislative materials.  It also offers finding aids and a bill tracking service.   Access to the database is available on the ASU computer network, including remote access for ASU faculty, staff, and students. 

 

ProQuest Legislative Insight

ProQuest Legislative Insight is an online federal legislative history database that provides compilations of digital full-text publications created by Congress during the lawmaking process.  Documents available include the full text of public laws, all versions of related bills, law-specific Congressional Record excerpts, committee hearings, reports, and prints.  The database also includes presidential signing statements, CRS reports, and various congressional publications that provide background information to lawmaking issues.  Access to the database is available on the ASU computer network, including remote access for ASU faculty, staff, and students. 

 

General Explanation of Tax Legislation Enacted in ... (CCH)

General Explanation of Tax Legislation Enacted in. . . (commonly known as Blue Books) are prepared by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation in consultation with the staffs of the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance.  The Blue Books offer explanations on all tax legislation passed by a particular Congress; explanations include the legislative history of each act, a provision-by-provision description of the prior law and new law, the effective date of each law change, and for many laws the reasons for the statutory change.  Select Blue Books are available on the Joint Committee on Taxation website.

KF6285 .S7322, WestlawNext, and Lexis Advance

 

Internal Revenue Acts of the United States, 1909–1950: Legislative Histories and Administrative Documents Guide and Analytical Index (Bernard D. Reams et al., William S. Hein & Co. 1979)

This text contains a chronological history to each Internal Revenue Act passed between 1909 and 1950, including references to the location of the bill in its various forms, slip laws, committee reports, committee hearings, and treasury regulations.

KF6275.8 1979 .I581

 

Seidman's Legislative History of Federal Income Tax Laws, 1938–1861 (Jacob S. Seidman, Prentice-Hall 1938)

Seidman’s text includes everything of interpretative significance said to or by Congress and passed or rejected by it, from 1861 (the beginning of income tax legislation) to 1938.  Material is arranged by act, with the most recent act first.  Information included for each act includes language changes, committee reports, floor discussions, and committee hearings. 

KF6369 .S43 and HeinOnline

 

Seidman's Legislative History of Federal Income Tax Laws, 1953-1939 (Jacob S. Seidman, Prentice-Hall 1954)

This two-volume text written by Jacob Seidman provides legislative history for tax laws passed between 1939 and 1953.

KF6369 .S42 and HeinOnline

 

Westlaw

 

Legislation, Regulations, & Court Decisions 

Legislation

United States Code

The United States Code is the codification by subject matter of the laws of the United States.  It is divided into fifty subject titles.  There have been three major tax codifications: the Internal Revenue Codes of 1939, 1954, and 1986.  The current Internal Revenue Code can be found in Title 26 of the U.S. Code.

  • The Code is available online at the U.S. Government and Printing Office Federal Digital System website.  Both WestlawNext and Lexis Advance have the U.S. Code available.  The Law Library has the Internal Revenue Code available in Reserve at KF6276.526.A19 I57 and the full U.S. Code in print in the Core section.

United States Statutes at Large

The Statutes at Large is the permanent collection of all laws and resolutions enacted during each session of Congress, prepared and published by the Office of the Federal Register.  Laws are published in order of the date of their enactment.  Also published are concurrent resolutions, proclamations by the President, proposed and ratified amendments to the Constitution, and reorganization plans.

  • The Statutes at Large can be searched on the U.S. Government and Printing Office Federal Digital System website.  HeinOnline also provides access through its Statutes at Large library.  Both WestlawNext and Lexis Advance have the Statutes at Large available.  The Library has the Statutes at Large in print in the Core section.

Regulations

The United States Department of the Treasury is the administrative body responsible for implementing tax laws.  The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a bureau of the Department of the Treasury, administers and enforces the internal revenue laws.

 

Code of Federal Regulations

The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the federal government.  Current Treasury Regulations are found in Title 26 of the CFR.

  • The Official CFR is accessible on the U.S. Government and Printing Office Federal Digital System website. The U.S. Government and Printing Office also offers the e-CFR, which although unofficial, is the most current resource for federal regulations.  Both WestlawNext and Lexis Advance have the CFR available.

IRS Publications

IRS Publications vary in importance. Those published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin, most importantly Treasury Regulations, Revenue Rulings, and Revenue Procedures, can be cited as authority.   The Internal Revenue Bulletin also includes IRS notices, IRS news releases, and acquiescence or non- acquiescence in court decisions.  It can be accessed on the IRS website and on LexisNexis Academic.

 

The other IRS. publications listed here can be used as “substantial authority” to avoid a penalty under I.R.C. § 6662(b)(2). See 26 C.F.R. § 1.6662-4(d)(3)(iii). See the Table of Federal Tax Resources, in Section X of this guide, for information on where to find these primary sources.

  • Private Letter Rulings and Technical Advice Memoranda
  • Actions on Decisions and General Counsel Memoranda
  • Internal Revenue Service information or press releases; and notices, announcements and other administrative pronouncements published by the Service in the Internal Revenue Bulletin.

Court Decisions

Tax Court

The Tax Court has two kinds of decisions: Regular Opinions and Memo Opinions

  • Regular Opinions are those opinions that the chief judge has determined contain novel or important decisions.  They are officially published in the United States Tax Court ReportsUnited States Tax Court Reports are available at  KF6280 .A2 T38, on HeinOnline’s U.S. Federal Agency Documents, Decisions, and Appeals database, WestlawNext, and Lexis Advance.  Before 1942, when the Tax Court was called the Board of Tax Appeals, they were published in the Board of Tax Appeal ReportsBoard of Tax Appeal Reports are available at  KF6280 .A2 T36, on HeinOnline’s U.S. Federal Agency Documents, Decisions, and Appeals database, the WestlawNext, and Lexis Advance.
  • Memo Opinions are those opinions not designated as “Regular,” and historically were not published officially.  All Tax Court opinions since September of 1995 are available on the Tax Court website.  Both Regular and Memo Opinions are available on the CCH Tax Research Network, RIA Checkpoint, and WestlawNext.

U.S. District Court

Tax opinions, along with other federal district court opinions, are published in West’s Federal Supplement (since 1932), located at Law Core KF120 .F431.  Cases before 1932 are in the Federal Reporter, located at Law Core KF105 .F43.  Cases relating to taxation in the federal district courts can be searched on WestlawNext and Lexis Advance.

 

U.S. Court of Appeals and U.S. Supreme Court

West’s Federal Claims Reporter includes opinions from the Court of Appeals from the federal circuit and the Supreme Court.  It is located in the Law Core section of the Library.  Cases relating to taxation in the federal courts of appeals and U.S. Supreme Court can be searched on WestlawNext and Lexis Advance.

 

 

Treaties

The United States has tax treaties with a number of foreign countries; these treaties generally provide that residents of foreign countries are taxed at a reduced rate, or are exempt from U.S. taxes on certain item of income they receive from U.S. sources.  Treaties related to taxation can be searched on WestlawNext and Lexis Advance.   For more information on treaty research, see the research guide on Treaties and International Agreements and the International Law Portal.

 

U.S. Tax Treaties Reporter

The U.S. Treaties Reporter includes income and estate tax treaties, official analyses, regulations, CCH explanations, and annotations to administrative rulings and court decisions.   It can be accessed on the CCH Tax Research Network under the International Tax and Federal Tax tabs. 

 

The Internal Revenue Service's Tax Information for International Businesses website has links to Tax Treaties and Competent Authority Agreements.

 

The HeinOnline Treaties and Agreements Library database enables searching of official treaty publications (including Senate Treaty Documents and Statutes at Large), unofficial treaty publications, and treaty guides and indexes.

 

 

Helpful Websites & Current Awareness Resources

 

Helpful Websites

 

ABA Section of Taxation

The ABA Section of Taxation website offers resources for tax practitioners.

 

Internal Revenue Service

The IRS website provides a wealth of federal tax information.  It also offers downloadable tax forms and publications.  Below are selected links on the IRS website.

Current Awareness Resources

 

BNA Daily Tax Report

The BNA Daily Tax Report covers significant tax developments and includes reports on legislation, legislative hearings, administrative actions, and regulatory proposals and rulings.  It is available on BNA and Bloomberg Law.

 

Tax Foundation

The Tax Foundation is a non-partisan educational organization that aims to educate taxpayers about sound tax policy. 

 

TaxProf Blog

The TaxProf Blog is edited by a tax law professor and offers resources, news, and information geared to interest other law school tax professors.  The blog contains both continuously updated permanent resources and daily information.

 

Updated 1/2014

  

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