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Accounting Research Guide

Guide to research in the areas of accounting, auditing, and taxation.


Tax Research By Branch

These resources will help you get started with your research.

1. Federal Tax Coordinator – (RIA Checkpoint)

  • 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.
  • 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.

2. American JurisprudenceFederal Taxation (Westlaw)

  • To access: Click on "Secondary Sources" then click on the title American Jurisprudence 2d and scroll to "Federal Taxation"
  • Legal encyclopedia with references to case law, statutes, and law review articles.
  • General coverage of federal taxation – overview and some in-depth treatment

3. IRS Publications

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

4.  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).

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

  • Print (annotated) – 3rd Floor – Legal Reference – KF 62
  • Online – can find full text of the Code on Westlaw and Lexis Nexis Academic, as well as RIA Checkpoint. Also freely available via the Government Publishing Office website.

Legislative History of I.R.C. Sections

  • Internal Revenue Cumulative Bulletin (Westlaw/Lexis) reprints the public laws from Statutes at Large along with congressional reports from the legislative history of major revenue acts since 1919
  • 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 from 1970-present.

Treasury Department – Regulations

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.

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.)

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

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

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

Federal Court Decisions

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.

Finding text of judicial opinions in tax cases:

  • Tax Court Opinions – found online at RIA Checkpoint or on the Tax Court’s website
  • Federal District Court Opinions – found within the printed case reporter Federal Supplement (3rd floor – Legal Reference) and also on West/LexisNexis