Internal Revenue Code

Internal Revenue Code in the United States

Internal Revenue Code of 1986

In the U.S. Code Platform: 26 U.S.C. § 1 : US Code – Section 1: Tax imposed.

Legal Materials

The Internal Revenue Code (IRC) is Title 26 of the United States Code , and the related regulations are Title 26 of the Code of Federal Regulations. You can find these in print and electronically with all versions of the US Code and Code of Federal Regulations (see “United States Code” and/or “Code of Federal Regulations).

The IRC and related regs are also published as free-standing paperback volumes (from CCH and RIA), as CD-ROMs, and they are included in most online tax databases, including Tax Analysts’ Federal Research Library, RIA’s CheckPoint and the electronic edition of the CCH Standard Federal Tax Reporter on Intelliconnect.

You can also get the Code and Regs as part of the United States Code and the Code of Federal Regulations, respectively. This is particularly useful because there are reliable, free Internet editions of the USC and CFR (see “United States Code” and “Code of Federal Regulations”).

To see if or when a section of the tax code was amended look in the annotations following the text. For recent changes to the tax code, look in the annotations to the text on Lexis or Westlaw, or search a database of Public Laws. For regulations, you could also check the annotations to the text on Lexis or Westlaw, or you could search theFederal Register or look through the List of CFR Sections Affected.

Historical Editions: Some larger law libraries keep volumes of the Code & Regs back many years, and you can find old Codes and Regs in historical editions of the USC and CFR (see the “Historical Editions” section of the United States Code and Code of Federal Regulations entries). Also, there is a multi-volume set called Cumulative Changes in the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 and Tax Regulations Under the Codethat covers 1954 through 1985. Westlaw’s “Internal Revenue Code of 1954” lets you search the Code as it existed before the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (FTX-IRC-54). Checkpoint has historical editions of the Code back to 1990, plus preambles to Proposed and Final Regs back to 1975 (subscription).

Legislative History: The legislative history of Federal tax laws is similar to the legislative history of other laws. See the Federal Legislative History entry in the legal Encyclopedia for general information. In addition, you can find tax legislative history materials published in the following sets.

  • Seidman’s Legislative History of Federal Income Tax Laws, 1938-1861 (The Lawbook Exchange);
  • Seidman’s Legislative History of Federal Income and Excess Profits Tax Laws, 1953-1939 (Prentice Hall);
  • A Guide and Analytical Index to the Internal Revenue Acts of the United States, 1909-1950 (W.S. Hein & Co.);
  • Legislative History of Federal Income and Excess Profits Tax Laws, 1953-1939(Prentice Hall);
  • Internal Revenue Acts: Text and Legislative History (West) from 1954 on; and
  • Tax Management — Primary Sources (BNA), which breaks legislative history down by Code section for the years covered (the 1970s to at least the 104th Congress covering 1995-1996); and
  • Internal Revenue Acts of the United States, 1909-1950: Legislative Histories, Laws and Administrative Documents, a huge nearly comprehensive set, available in the Tax and Economic Reform module of HeinOnline.

Lexis offers a database of tax bills, laws and selected Congressional Reports going back to 1954 (FEDTAX;LEGIS). The Westlaw equivalent goes back to 1948 (FTX-LH), with a special file for the Tax Reform Act of 1986 (FTX-TRA86). RIA’s CheckPoint has Reports for tax bills back to the 104th Congress, i.e., 1994-1995 (Federal Library / Federal Source Materials Pending and Enacted Legislation). Tax Analysts’ Federal Research Library has legislative history materials back 1981.

The Taxation & Economic Reform module of HeinOnline is a good source for legislative histories of older tax laws including the two Seidman’s Legislative Historybooks mentioned above, the four-volume Legislative History of the United States Tax Conventions, which covers tax treaties up to about 2010, the huge Internal Revenue Acts of the United States, 1909-1950: Legislative Histories, Laws and Administrative Documents set, and several legislative histories for individual tax laws.

Conference Reports are published in the IRS’s Cumulative Bulletins (see “Internal Revenue Service”). They sometimes come as freebies for subscribers to the multi-volume tax treatises.

If there is one, look at the “Bluebook” and any other report by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation to explain major tax laws after they are passed. Blue Books are posted from 1969 on the JCT Web site, and many law libraries keep the old editions published by the GPO and CCH. You can search through old editions of the Blue Book from 1970 on Lexis (FEDTAX;JCTBB) and from 1976 on Westlaw (FTX-JCS).

Tax legislative history materials are also available in all the general legislative history sources discussed in the “Federal Legislative History” entry.

Internal Revenue Code (including section 1031) and Other Popular Tax Concepts

See Also

Internal Revenue Service
Public Comments
Tax Forms
Federal Legislative History
Code of Federal Regulations
United States Code

Internal Revenue Code

In Legislation

Internal Revenue Code in the U.S. Code: Title 26

The current, permanent, in-force federal laws regulating internal revenue code are compiled in the United States Code under Title 26. It constitutes “prima facie” evidence of statutes relating to Income Taxes and Estate and Gift Taxes (including internal revenue code) of the United States. The reader can further narrow his/her legal research of the general topic (in this case, Taxation and Tax Liability and Liability of the US Code, including internal revenue code) by chapter and subchapter.

Internal Revenue Code: 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 Internal Revenue Code. This part provides references, in relation to Internal Revenue Code, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Internal Revenue Code 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 Internal Revenue Code 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 Internal Revenue Code 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 Internal Revenue Code 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 Internal Revenue Code. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Internal Revenue Code 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 Internal Revenue Code when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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