Federal Tax

Federal Taxation in the United States

Introduction: Components of Federal Tax Law

Federal tax law consists of a combination of statutory, administrative and judicial sources of law. The Internal Revenue Code, as enacted by Congress, is a compilation of the federal statutes cowering income, estate, gift, and employment taxes. Day-to-day administration of the Internal Revenue Code is performed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a federal agency within the Treasury Department. Together, the IRS and the Treasury Department issue administrative regulations and rulings that supplement and interpret the Code and have the force of law. Additional interpretation of the Code is provided by the courts as they apply the tax law to specific disputes involving taxpayers.

The cornerstone of tax administration in the United States is a voluntary tax compliance system. Voluntary compliance depends on both the ability and the willingness of taxpayers to comply. Further, it depends on the ability of tax practitioners to understand and properly advise taxpayers. Needless complexity erodes this system because full compliance increasingly requires an unreasonable outlay of effort and resources.

Internal Revenue Code

The present version of the Code was enacted in 1986 and is referred to as the 1986 Code. It superseded the previous version of the Code. which had been codified in 1954. The 1986 Code will remain in effect with amendments until the Internal Revenue Code is once again reorganized and recodified at some future date. Full text of the Internal Code may be found in Title 26 of the U.S. Code, RIA US Tax Reporter-Internal Revenue Code, RIA Federal Tax Coordinator, USSCAN Internal Revenue Code, CCH Tax Library-Federal Taxes: Current Internal Revenue Code, LEXIS and WESTLAW. Historical notes regarding prior law and amending acts may also be found in the CCH Tax Library Federal Taxes; Current Internal Revenue Code; IRC History and USSCAN Internal Revenue Code-Text and Legislative History .

Legislative History of Federal Tax Laws

Legislative histories of U.S. Internal Revenue Acts from 1909-1972 have been compiled by Bernard Reams Jr.(KF 6275.8). The legislative histories of the Tax Reform Acts of 1971, 1975, 1980 1984 and 1986 have also been compiled by Reams. Since 1974, the IRS has published a third volume to its yearly Cumulative Bulletin (T 22.25) which contains the legislative histories of tax laws enacted during that year. BNA Tax Management-Primary Sources and USSCAN IRA -Text and Legislative History are also sources for finding legislative history of recent tax laws.

Court Interpretation of Tax Law (Tax Cases)

Tax cases decided by the federal courts provide additional binding interpretation of the Internal Revenue Code. The following list cross-references different types of court decisions with the corresponding case reporters in which they can be found:

Types of Decisions:

  • U.S. Tax Court: Reported in U.S. Tax Court Reports (Ju 11.7). For most recent opinions use CCH Tax Library-Federal Taxes; Cases, RIA Federal Tax Coordinator, RIA Tax Court Reported and Memorandum Decisions, LEXIS or WESTLAW.
  • U. S. Tax Court Memorandum Decisions: Reported in CCH Tax Library-Federal Taxes; Cases; TC Memoranda or RIA Tax Court Reported and Memorandum Decisions.
  • Other federal courts (District, Appeals, SupCt.): Reported in CCH Tax Library Federal Taxes, RIA US, Tax Reporter , RIA Federal Tax Coordinator LEXIS or WESTLAW. Advance sheets are in RIA American Federal Tax Reports.

Administrative Regulations

Tax regulations, as promulgated by the Treasury Department and the IRS, have the force of law and often set forth additional rules for compliance. Tax regulations currently in effect are published in Title 26 of the Code of Federal Regulations, USSCAN Federal Tax Regulations, CCH Income Tax Regulations-Including Proposed Regulations (KF 6357 .I37), RIA Federal Tax Regulations-Final Temporary and Proposals (KF 6356 .R4) CCH Tax Library-Federal Taxes, RIA US Tax Reporter and available on-line in LEXIS and WESTLAW. Tax regulations are updated by the daily Federal Register, on-line in GPO Access (Ei Net Win WAIS) and also available electronically in LEXIS and WESTLAW. Proposed regulations also appear in CCH Tax Library-Federal Taxes, Federal Tax Coordinator 2d as well as in the Federal Register.

Legal Materials

Administrative Rulings

Summaries of IRS administrative rulings appear in the CCH Tax Library-Letter Rulings & IRS Positions. Full text of administrative rulings is often more difficult to locate. The IRS publishes full text in the Internal Revenue Bulletin, which is reprinted in the Federal Tax Coordinator 2d and in LEXIS.

Other rulings and written determinations may be found, if at all, only in the unofficial publications of commercial publishers. The following list of documents serves as a guide to where administrative rulings and written determinations may be found in full text:

  • AOD-Action on Decision: Full Text in CCH Tax Lib., Westlaw (1967-) and Lexis (1963-)
  • GCM-General Counsel Memo.: Full Text in CCH Tax Lib., Westlaw (1966-) and Lexis (1967-)
  • Let. Rul.-Letter Ruling: Full Text in CCH Tax Lib., Lexis (1954-) and Westlaw (1954-)
  • Rev. Proc.-Revenue Procedure: Full Text in Cum. Bull. (1954-), Int. Rev. Bull.(1967-), Westlaw (1954-), Lexis and CCH Tax Lib.
  • Rev. Rul.-Revenue Ruling: Full Text in Cum. Bull.(1954-). Int. Rev. Bull. (1967-), Westlaw
  • TAM-Technical Advice Memo: Full Text in CCH Tax Lib., Westlaw (1954-) and Lexis (1954-)
  • TD-Treasure Decision: Full Text in Cum. Bull. (1954-), Int. Rev. Bull. ( 1967-), Westlaw (1980-), Lexis and CCH Tax Lib.
  • TM-Technical Memorandum: Full Text in CCH Tax Lib., Westlaw and Lexis (1967-)

Guide to Text Sources:

  • CCH Tax Library – CCH Tax Library-Letter Rulings & IRS Positions
  • Cum Bull. – Cumulative Bulletin of the IRS
  • Int. Rev. Bull – Internal Revenue Bulletin
  • Lexis – LEXlS-NEXIS
  • Westlaw- WESTLAW

Citators for Cases and Administrative Rulings

A citator enables the researcher to determine whether a certain case or administrative ruling has been reversed or overruled by a later case or ruling. Citators for tax cases and rulings may be found in the following locations: Shepards Federal Tax Citations, (RIA) Citator 2d, LEXIS and WESTLAW.

Looseleaf Services for Researching Federal Tax Law

Looseleaf services have traditionally been the major tool for discovering the statutes, regulations, rulings, and cases that together form federal taxation law. Accessible through subject indexes, looseleaf services contain the full text of applicable EC sections and regulations. Additionally looseleaf services provide the researcher with editorial analysis and annotations to pertinent cases and administrative rulings. Current or New Matters volumes within a service also should be consulted to a determine the latest developments in the law. The first volume of a looseleaf contains instructional materials to guide researchers in the use of the service.

Tax looseleaf services by subject:

  • Income Tax- RIA US Tax Reporter-Income Taxes
  • Estate and Gift- RIA US Tax Reporter-Estate & Gift
  • Excise Tax- RIA US Tax Reporter-Excise Taxes
  • Tax Planning- BNA Tax Management Portfolios

Indexes for Finding Journal Articles

Citations to journal articles that analyze tax law can be obtained through the use of the following specialized indexes CCH Federal Tax Articles (1954-) and Indexes to Federal Tax Articles (KF 6335 .Al G62). The LegalTrac Database includes citations from law reviews, bar journals, legal newspapers, and other legal publication indexing subjects, titles, authors, cases and statutes.

Treatises and Books

Keyword searching may be done to find treatises and books on aspects of federal taxation. A user may choose keywords to represent important concepts and then combine them in an advanced search with connectors such as AND, OR. Words may be truncated by using a *, in order to allow for variant possible endings of the keyword.


LEXIS and WESTLAW are legal research databases that contain a wide variety of materials on federal taxation. Both LEXIS and WESTLAW give access to the Internal Revenue Code, legislative histories, cases, tax regulations, IRS administrative rulings and materials, analyses. current awareness services, and materials on international taxation and treaties. Use of the databases is governed by licensing agreements.

Tax Treaties and Materials on International Taxation

The United States has entered into treaties with many foreign countries concerning the tax treatment of individuals subject to tax in both countries. These treaties have the same force of law as a federal statute and may be found in CCH Tax Treaties or CCH Tax Library-Estate/Gift Tax Reporter.

The researcher may also wish to use LEXIS or WESTLAW. For information on international taxation, consult LEXIS. WESTLAW or the CCH Canadian Tax Reporter.

IRS Forms and Publications

Copies of current tax forms from the IRS are in internet and are also contained in BNA IRS Tax Forms and CCH IRS Tax Forms. Copies of IRS publications may be found in CCH, IRS Publications. Handbooks concerning the internal operations of the IRS, along with the official policies, procedures and guidelines of the IRS, are contained in CCH Tax Library Internal Revenue Manual.

Federal Tax Handbooks and Guides

Quick IRC reference sources are CCH U. S. Master Tax Guide and RIA Federal Tax
Handbook (KF 6278 .C66). For more information on federal tax research, consult:

  • Raabe, William A. West’s Federal Tax Research (St. Paul, MN,) KF 241 .T38 R33
  • Chanin, Leah F. Specialized Legal Research (Boston, Little, Brown) Chapter 3. “Federal Income Taxation “.  KF 240 .S64

Credit for Federal Tax Paid On Fuels, I.R.S Form 4136 and Tax Law

There are more details about Credit for Federal Tax Paid On Fuels, I.R.S Form 4136 in thetax compilation of the legal Encyclopedia.

Federal Tax (Taxation)

This section introduces, discusses and describes the basics of federal tax. Then, cross references and a brief overview about Taxation is provided. Finally, the subject of Internet Law in relation with federal tax is examined. Note that a list of cross references, bibliography and other resources appears at the end of this entry.

Federal Tax: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Federal Tax. This part provides references, in relation to Federal Tax, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Federal Tax by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Federal Tax and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Federal Tax or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Federal Tax and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Federal Tax. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Federal Tax should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Federal Tax when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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