TAX 9863: Federal Tax Research Resources - Prof. Handler, Fall 2020

Description of authority and available resources of the Internal Revenue Code

Is The IRS Code Current?

Sources of federal tax law

Federal tax laws come from four sources:

  • Tax treaties agreed to and signed between the United States and another country.
  • Legislation enacted by the U.S. Congress (the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives), and signed into law by the  President. Tax laws become part of the U.S. Code, of which Title 26 is the Internal Revenue Code (the "IRC" or "the Code").
  • Administrative laws

The U.S. Department of Treasury is the executive department responsible for implementing tax laws.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a bureau within the Treasury Department, issues documents for interpreting the IRC and enforcing tax laws--regulations to letters commenting on specific transactions. Many of these documents are called regulations.

  • Judicial decisions are reached by opinions issued by a court.  Courts include the Supreme Court of the United States, the U.S. Tax Court, the Court of Federal Claims, Federal Appellate Courts, and federal district courts.


What Newman databases offer these sources?

Internal Revenue Code (the "IRC" or "the Code")

  • The Internal Revenue Code (the "IRC" or "the Code"), Title 26 of the United States Code, contains most of the federal tax laws enacted by the U.S. Congress.
  • The code is organized by topics, with provisions on particular subtopics usually found together. Cross-references are made to related sections.
  • If you know the IRC code sections that are applicable, locate them in the current version of the IRC available on CCH Intelliconnect or Thomson Reuters Checkpoint, or a free version available from the Internal Revenue Service.   (Check to see that the information is current.)
  • "Go to Document by Citation" in Bloomberg Tax offers access to sections of the current Internal Revenue Code. Previous codes may be searched in Source Documents.
  • Changes are frequent, be certain you are using up-to-date information.


Need an earlier Internal Revenue Code (IRC)?

The major tax codifications are the IRC of 1939, 1954, 1986 and 2018.

Annual editions have been published.

IRC Research Tips

  • Tax has many "terms of art" and some ordinary words, such as "person" have special meanings.
  •   Look for defintions that apply to a section or sub-section.  §7701 of the IRC has more than 50 definitions of commonly used terms.
  • When an agency other than the Treasury Department has primary responsibility for an area of law, you will need to check laws of that agency that relate to tax.