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Tax Law - Federal

This guide is primarily focused on sources for researching basic federal tax law in the United States.

United States Code

The main tax statutes are located in the Internal Revenue Code, which is Title 26 of the United States Code.  Federal tax law can be accessed in a number of ways:

Case Law

Income tax litigation begins in one of three forums:  (1) United States Tax Court, (2) Federal District Court, or (3) Court of Federal Claims.  If the taxpayer has not paid the tax, then the forum is the United States Tax Court.  If the taxpayer has paid the disputed tax and is then refused a refund, the forum is either the federal district court (where he/she is entitled to a jury trial) or the Court of Federal Claims.

Administrative Law: The Treasury Dept. and the IRS

Regulations are the highest administrative authority issued by the Treasury Department. They are published in the Federal Register and codified in Title 26 of the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.). Title 26 of the C.F.R. is updated annually on April 1, and the researcher should be sure to consult the most current version of the regulation.

Treasury Regulations - Regulations are the highest administrative authority issued by the Treasury Department. They are published in the Federal Register and codified in Title 26 of the Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.). Title 26 of the C.F.R. is updated annually on April 1, and the researcher should be sure to consult the most current version of the regulation. The regulation numbers are numbered according to the IRC provision that governs them. For Example, Treasury Regulation 1.61-1 and IRC §61 both govern the defintion of Gross Income. 

Other IRS Administrative Decisions 

  • Private Letter Rulings 
    • A private letter ruling is a letter ruling issued by the I.R.S. stating its position about the tax treatment of a prospective transaction.  Such ruling is not binding on the I.R.S. with respect to any taxpayer other than the one to whom it is issued. The name and other information of the taxpayer are redacted, and they are not officially published in a reporter

  • Technical Advice Memoranda 
    • "A technical advice memorandum, or TAM, is guidance furnished by the Office of Chief Counsel upon the request of an IRS director or an area director, appeals, in response to technical or procedural questions that develop during a proceeding. A request for a TAM generally stems from an examination of a taxpayer's return, a consideration of a taxpayer's claim for a refund or credit, or any other matter involving a specific taxpayer under the jurisdiction of the territory manager or the area director, appeals." (IRS Website)

Federal Legislative History

Legislative history can be extraordinarily useful for determining the intent behind a law, whether you're trying to determine why the law was changed or what Congress meant by a specific phrase. Legislative history is typically found in documents created during the legislative process, including reports, hearings, records of debates, and different versions of the bill.

Federal Regulations

Code of Federal Regulations

The Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R) is the codification of the general and permanent rules published in the Federal Register by the departments and agencies of the Federal Government. It is divided into 50 titles that represent broad areas subject to Federal regulation. The 50 subject matter titles contain one or more individual volumes, which are updated once each calendar year, on a staggered basis

Federal Register

The Federal Register (Fed. Reg.) is the official daily publication for rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents.

Regulatory Histories

Foreign & International Law

Locating foreign primary law on a particular topic can be difficult. The best sources for information on how to research the law of a particular country are:

Disclaimer: The views and opinions of the authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the State of Georgia, and shall not be used for advertising or product endorsement purposes. Georgia State University College of Law and the authors of the works contained on this website do not assume or accept any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, currentness, or comprehensiveness of the content on this website. The content on this website does not in any manner constitute the issuance of legal advice or counsel. The information on this website is intended to provide resources that may aid the research of the topics presented, and are in no way a comprehensive list of sources one should consult on the topics presented. Please note that case law, statutory law, and administrative law may be modified and/or overturned. Additionally, because the laws vary between jurisdictions, the laws referred to herein may or may not be applicable to the law within the reader’s jurisdiction.