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Law - Federal Tax Law Research  

Last Updated: Nov 11, 2014 URL: http://guides.lib.wayne.edu/fedtax Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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CALI Tax Tutorials

The Center for Computer Assisted Legal Instruction (CALI) provided over a hundred tutorials in the area of tax law. CALI tutorials now work on Iphones, IPads, and other portable devices.

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Starting Points - Hierarchy of Tax Authority

In general, when doing US federal tax research, the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) has priority.  After the IRC, researchers tend to look at the IRS regulations. The IRS also issues many administrative materials and pronouncements which have the force of law, such as Revenue Rulings and Letter Rulings, which may apply to all taxpayers or only to a particular taxpayer.  Cases and other resources (such as secondary sources) are used to interpret the code, regulations, and IRS pronouncements.

Use a tax research guide (see listed below) to famiarize yourself with the major tax documents, their abbreviations, and where they can be found. If you have access be sure to use the tax resources in online databases such as Lexis, Westlaw, CCH, BNA, RIA, and IBFD.

Tax Courts

Tax Court Hierarchy

U.S. Supreme Court & Acquiescence
Only decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court are binding authority on the IRS. For decisions from other courts in which the IRS does not prevail, the Commissioner must decide whether to abandon its position in the litigation (acquiescence) or to continue to pursue the IRS’s position in subsequent litigation (non-acquiescence). Tax citators and databases such as Lexis, Westlaw, CCH, and RIA include information on these decisions.

Federal Appellate Courts
Tax opinions from the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals and Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit are published in the Federal Reporter series. West's Federal Claims Reporter (formerly United States Claims Court Reporter) includes opinions from the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the Supreme Court.

Tax Court
In order of precedential value, the Tax Court issues regular decisions (published), memorandum decisions (unpublished), and summary decisions. The official opinions are published in the United States Tax Court Reports (TC). Before 1942, when the Tax Court was called the Board of Tax Appeals, the official reporter was the Board of Tax Appeal Reports. These official reporters as well as memorandum decisions are available in databases such as Lexis, Westlaw, CCH, BNA, and in the HeinOnline Federal Agency Library. All decisions from the Tax Court are available since 1995 on the Tax Court web site.


Federal District Courts
Tax opinions are published along with other federal district court opinions, in West’s Federal Supplement (since 1932) and Federal Reporter (before 1932). Westlaw contains PDF images of all cases reported in these sources.

Court of Federal Claims
Between Oct. 1, 1982, and Oct. 29, 1992, this court was called the United States Claims Court. Before that, it was known as the United States Court of Claims and only the Supreme Court had jurisdiction over appeals from its decisions. Court of Federal Claims decisions are published in the U.S. Court of Claims Reports, West's United States Claims Court Reporter (1982-1991), and West’s Federal Claims Reporter (1992- ).


Unofficial reporters
The major tax research databases and looseleaf services publish nearly all of these cases, plus additional district court cases not reported in F. Supp. These resources are sometimes the only source of some federal district court opinions on taxation. Opinions for all these courts are collected and published by CCH in U.S. Tax Cases (U.S.T.C.) (LOOSELEAFS) and by the Research Institute of America (RIA) in American Federal Tax Reports (A.F.T.R., A.F.T.R. 2d). (LOOSELEAFS).


 

Subject Guide

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Virginia Thomas

Major Looseleaf Services and Databases

Tax Legislative History Sources

  • HeinOnline Taxation and Economic Reform in America Part I and II, 1781-2010
    Includes Seidman's Legislative History of Federal Income and Excess Profits Tax Laws 1953-1939 and Seidman's Legislative History of Federal Income Tax Laws 1938-1861. Numerous Treatises. See also Congressional Research Service Reports.
  • Joint Committee on Taxation
    "Blue Books" prepared by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation are detailed explanations of tax legislation. They are not part of the legislative history per se, but are helpful for explaining and tracing the path of the legislation through Congress and giving the researcher an overview of adopted legislation.
  • Tax Analysts Tax History Project
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