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Tax Research - Federal

This research guide highlights important sources and provides tips for researching federal tax law.

About this Guide

This research guide provides a basic framework for researching United States tax law, recommending sources and providing tips for tax students and practitioners.

The scope of this guide focuses on US-only transactions and law; it does not cover international and foreign tax research, nor does it cover state and local tax law research. This guide highlights some of the most useful sources, but does not necessarily provide a comprehensive list of every federal tax source available.

General Research Framework

While tax is a complicated area of law and each research assignment is different, here is a general framework for how to research many tax issues.

  • Before you begin your research, make sure that you understand the issue you're researching and the relevant facts.
    A good way to do this is to start with a secondary source like a treatise or a specialized tax resource, such as the Standard Federal Tax Reporter or the Federal Tax Coordinator (RIA/Checkpoint).
  • Next, make sure you know which section(s) of the Internal Revenue Code affect your issue. From there, find any relevant treasury regulations and IRS regulatory guidance documents.
  • Finally, see if there are any cases on your topic.

Tax Research Handbooks

The following handbooks provide detailed guidance on finding federal tax law information.

Bluebook Citations

The Bluebook has special citation formats for tax materials. For Internal Revenue Code citations, see R 12.9 (20th ed. p. 129). For Treasury Regulations, IRS Guidance Documents, and Tax Court decisions, see T1 (20th ed. pp. 241-42).

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