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Basic Legal Research Guide: Federal Tax Research

Starting Places for Federal Tax Research

These resources will help you get started with your searching:

1) Corpis Juris Secundum – v. 84-85, Taxation (2nd Floor – Legal Reference Collection - KF132 .C6)

      i.      Legal encyclopedia with references to case law, statutes, and law review articles
      ii.     General coverage of federal taxation – overview and some in-depth treatment

 2) Federal Tax Coordinator – within RIA Checkpoint

      i.      A comprehensive tax service designed for the non-specialist but with detail and breadth of coverage; organized by topic (rather than Code section) and reads more like a treatise
      ii.     Good resource if you do not know where to start, or if you suspect that more than one Code section applies to your problem because it discusses the interrelationship of sections in more depth. Extensive tables are provided by Code section, regulation, and case name.

 3) American JurisprudenceFederal Taxation (Westlaw Campus Research)

       i.      To access: Click on “Law” tab. Then, in the upper left hand corner, under “Shortcuts,” click on “Content” link. Type in “AMJUR” as your database identifier. In the upper right hand corner you will see a link to the “Table of Contents.” From there, navigate to “Federal Taxation”
       ii.      Legal encyclopedia with references to case law, statutes, and law review articles.
       iii.     General coverage of federal taxation – overview and some in-depth treatment

 4) IRS Publications

        i.      Series of Internal Revenue Service documents on common tax issues.
        ii.     Documents provide explanations and associated forms.
        iii.    Topics range from basic tax questions to more complex areas of tax law.

 5)  Federal Tax Research Reference Chart – produced by Georgetown University School of Law, this chart lists common resource abbreviations used within the field of federal taxation, what those abbreviations stand for, and where the resource can be located (whether in print or electronic).


Secondary Sources

Secondary Sources

a. Tax Analysts – commentary on tax regulations and decisions. Available on LexisNexis*

b. Statistics

i. The IRS collects, analyzes and publishes a wide range of tax statistics (

ii. Statistics of Income Bulletin (SOI Bulletin) is available on the 2nd floor at DOC T 22.35/4

iii. Articles - Articles on tax issues will be scattered across a wide range of law reviews, legal journals, and other non-law publications, which can be found on Westlaw* and LexisNexis*

*Use "Databases" links above.


Legislative: Internal Revenue Code – Title 26 of the United States Code

         i. Print – (annotated and unannotated) – 2nd Floor – Legal Reference – KF 62

         ii. Online – can find full text of the Code on West Campus Research and Lexis Nexis Academic, as well as RIA Checkpoint. Also freely available at

        iii. Legislative History of I.R.C. Sections

             1. Internal Revenue Cumulative Bulletin (2nd Floor - Doc. T 22.25 and West/Lexis) reprints the public laws from Statutes at Large along with congressional reports from the legislative history of major revenue acts since 1919

             2. “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. Available online at from 1970-present.


Treasury Department – Regulations

i. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a bureau within the Treasury, performs the function of implementing tax laws by issuing numerous types of documents for both interpreting the Code and enforcing the law. These documents range from regulations to letters commenting on specific transactions.

ii. Three different types of regulations: Proposed, Temporary, and Final. In citations to temporary and final regulations the number after the decimal point corresponds to the Code section related to the regulation (e.g., Treas. Reg. §1.112-1 relates to §112 of the Code.)

iii. Temporary and final regulations, issued as Treasury Decisions (T.D.s), can be found in title 26 of the Code of Federal Regulations and proposed regulations can be located in the Federal Register

iv. All three types of regulations are also available in Westlaw, LexisNexis, and RIA Checkpoint

v. Internal Revenue Service Bulletins - administrative interpretations of the Code. Can be found in Westlaw, LexisNexis, and on the IRS web site.



Federal Court Decisions

i. Income tax litigation begins in one of three forums:

    1. If the taxpayer has not paid the tax, then the forum is the United States Tax Court.

    2. If the taxpayer has paid the disputed tax and is then refused a refund, the forum is either (a) the federal district court (where he is entitled to a jury trial) or (b) the Court of Federal Claims.

    3. Appeals from Tax Court and federal district court decisions are to the Circuit Court of Appeals covering the taxpayer's state of residence. Appeals from the Court of Federal Claims are to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

ii. Finding text of judicial opinions in tax cases:

    1. Tax Court Opinions – found online at RIA Checkpoint or on the Tax Court’s website

    2. Federal District Court Opinions – found within the printed case reporter Federal Supplement (2nd floor – Legal Reference) and also on West/LexisNexis

    3. Court of Federal Claims – found within the printed Court of Federal Claims Reports (2nd Floor - DOC. JU 3.9)