This section of the guide will discuss sources of primary tax law materials while providing some context as to the weight of authority and precedential value inherent in each type of source. Please keep in mind that agencies vary on these and that the information here is only specific to research on federal tax. This section is broken into two subsections, this one discusses tax statutes, regulations and case law and there is a second subsection on IRS Guidance.
Internal Revenue Code
From the Internal Revenue Manual § 188.8.131.52.1 : "The Internal Revenue Code of 1986 is the primary source of Federal tax law. It imposes income, estate, gift, employment, miscellaneous excise taxes, and provisions controlling the administration of Federal taxation. The Code is found at Title 26 of the United States Code (USC). The United States Code consists of fifty titles."
The Internal Revenue Code is codified at Title 26 of the U.S.C. and is available in many databases including:
For some context of the purpose and scope of regulations, note the following:
The regulation-creating procedure is also helpful to know a bit more about..
Where to find tax regulations:
Any federal reporter which publishes decisions of those courts which adjudicate federal tax disputes may contain judicial tax case law. The Internal Revenue Bulletin (IRB) also contains judicial tax case law. Below are examples and locations of some reporters which focus on cases involving federal tax issues.
What is it?
The Internal Revenue Bulletin (IRB) is the authoritative instrument for announcing official rulings and procedures of the IRS and for publishing Treasury Decisions, Executive Orders, Tax Conventions, legislation, court decisions, and other items of general interest.
It is published weekly and the types of documents that may be published in the IRB include: Actions on Decisions, Announcements, Congressional committee reports / Bluebooks, Delegation orders, Executive orders, Notices, Proposed & final regulations/Treasury decisions, Public laws, Revenue rulings, Revenue procedures, Select court decisions.
Where can you find it?
What finding tools are available?
There is a cumulative index in the last bulletin issued each month that indexes the matters published during the preceding months;
What is authoritative?
The following items printed in the IRB constitute authority:
Items that are not in the IRB can still be used as authority but they cannot be cited as precedent per IRS code section 6110(k)(3). This may include:
Actions on Decisions (Legal memoranda that announces the position of the Internal Revenue Service on an adverse decision by a trial or appellate court and whether it should acquiesce (appeal or not) in an adverse U.S. Tax Court decision.)
General counsel memoranda (GCM) up to 2002/ chief counsel advisories (CCAs) post 2002 (indicating the reasoning and authority used in revenue rulings, PLRs, and TAMs. IRS personnel use them in formulating positions.)
IRS written determinations including
Other authority which cannot be cited as precedent includes: legal advice items issued to assist IRS personnel in administration; administrative manuals and instructions; program plans and reports; training and reference materials; unreleased documents like advanced pricing agreements; documents that are not available on the IRS website; IRS operating division documents.