The Internal Revenue Service (I.R.S.) is part of the Treasury Department. While guidance documents published by the I.R.S. are not as authoritative as Treasury Regulations, they can be cited by taxpayers as substantial authority in avoiding the understatement of income tax liability penalty under I.R.C. § 6662. They also provide insight to taxpayers and researchers on tax issues. Guidance documents with substantial authority include the following categories:
The IRS publishes the first four categories (Revenue Rulings, Revenue Procedures, Notices, and Announcements) in its weekly Internal Revenue Bulletin (I.R.B.).
In addition to the seven types of documents listed above, other guidance documents exist that do not hold substantial legal authority but that still help researchers and taxpayers to understand the IRS's position on relevant issues. These include Chief Counsel Memoranda (Field Service Advice Memoranda, Litigation Guideline Memoranda, General Counsel Memoranda, and Technical Memoranda) IRS forms and instructions, and other documents.
["Internal Revenue Service" photo by Ray Tsang, Creative Commons license: CC BY-SA 2.0]
IRS Guidance Documents are available on the IRS web site, Checkpoint, Cheetah, Bloomberg Law Tax Practice Center, Lexis, and Westlaw.
The Bluebook has special citation formats for tax materials. To see citation formats for IRS Guidance Documents, see T1 (20th ed. pp. 241-42).
The IRS Guidance Primer provides a brief explanation of the most common types of guidance documents.
An overview of guidance documents with more detailed explanations can be found in Chapter 9 of Gail Levin Richmond, Federal Tax Research: Guide to Materials and Techniques (9th ed. 2014).