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Guide to Researching US Tax Policy

Overview

Administrative codes are the subject organization of regulations. A register is usually a chronological publication and includes notices and proposed regulations as well as final regulations.

Agency decisions, orders, and opinions are much more difficult to find than statutes, cases, or regulations.  Generally, check UCLID, the agency’s website, Lexis & Westlaw, and other commercial publishing sources such as CCH and BNA.

With the exception of Federal, Ohio, and selected Indiana and Kentucky material, the Law Library primarily relies on electronic versions of administrative law materials.  Note that the Bluebook has special rules for citing Treasury materials.

Federal Tax Regulations

See our Federal Administrative Law Guide for further details on researching Federal Administrative Law.

Both temporary and final regulations are first published as Treasury Decisions.   They are numbered with a numerical prefix indicating the tax with which the regulation deals and then the code section.

      Income Tax = 1

      Estate Tax = 20

      Gift Tax = 25

Example:  Treas. Reg. § 1.48.9 is a regulation on income tax, section 48 of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC).

Temporary Federal Tax Regulations are effective immediately and often issued after a new tax statute.  They do not require notice or a public comment period.  They can remain in effect for up to three years. 

CFR

Federal Register

Proposed Federal tax regulations are published in the Federal Register. 

 

Federal Tax Adjudications

Selected Tax Agency Publications

Revenue Rulings & Procedures

IRS pronouncements in response to factual questions from taxpayers or the IRS field offices that the IRS feels are of general interest. They are official interpretations by the IRS so the agency is bound by them until the ruling is revoked. 

Letter Rulings

Letter Rulings and Private Letter Rulings are written responses to specific taxpayer written requests.  They deal with a specific set of facts and have no precedential value.

  • Bloomberg Law Tax and Accounting Center (Law students & faculty only)
  • Wolters Kluwer IntelliConnect (UC students and faculty) – Under Browse, go to Federal Tax > Federal Tax Primary Sources > Letter Rulings & IRS Positions (including TAMs and FSAs).  Keep expanding until you get to just the letter rulings and TAMs.
  • Lexis: Browse Sources > Search Sources > Search " IRS Private Letter Rulings and Technical Advice Memoranda" > Add source to your search 
  • Thomson Reuters Checkpoint (UC students and faculty): Note that only 1 person at a time can use this database
  • Westlaw Database Identifier FTX-PLR

 

Technical Advice Memoranda (TAMs)

Another type of private ruling but these are written by the IRS in response to taxpayer or IRS field office questions when auditing a return.  These also have no precedential value.

  • You can find these in the same sources as listed above for Private Letter Rulings.  Westlaw does have a separate database identifier:  FTX-TAM

Shepardizing & KeyCiting

You can Shepardize and KeyCite administrative regulations.  This will help you find proposed regulations, judicial treatment and interpretation of regulations; and locate secondary sources citing regulations.

IRS Acquiesence and Nonaquiesence Announcements

The IRS is bound by U.S. Supreme Court decisions but it is more complicated when it comes to decisions by other lower courts.  If the Commissioner decides to abide by an adverse decision, it is an acquiescence.  A nonacquiescence means the Commissioner disagrees with the adverse decision and will only follow the decision for the specific taxpayer whose case resulted in the adverse ruling. 

You can find the announcements regarding acquiescence or nonacquiescence in:

Actions on Decisions

The AOD is a formal memorandum prepared by the IRS Office of Chief Counsel that announces the future litigation position the IRS will take with regard to the court decision addressed by the AOD.

Internal Revenue Bulletin & Cumulative Bulletin       

Tracking Regulations

Federal

  • RegInfo.gov (back to Fall 1995)
    • Contains the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions.  The Unified Agenda, published every spring and fall, includes regulatory agendas from all Federal entities that currently have regulations under development or review. Agencies of the United States Congress are not included. Fall editions of the Unified Agenda include The Regulatory Plan, which presents agency statements of regulatory priorities and additional information about the most significant regulatory activities planned for the coming year.
    • Also provides various breakdowns of pending agency action, allowing users to view pending actions by rule stage or by agency.
  • Regulations.Gov
    • A centralized site for online access to proposed and final regulations, and submission and review of public comments.
    • Users can sign up for e-mail alerts on a specific regulation or subscribe to RSS feeds for agency notices.

States

  • Lexis & Westlaw – just as Lexis & Westlaw have bill tracking for Federal material, they also have it for the states.  Locate the appropriate jurisdiction to find the appropriate database.
  • State websites – some state websites have regulation tracking capabilities.

State Administrative Law

Ohio

For more details on Ohio Administrative Law resources, see our Ohio Research Guide.

Regulations

  • Ohio Administrative Code (OAC) 
    • Print: Ohio 1 KFO440 .O37 1994
    • Lexis Advance:  Browse Sources > Jurisdiction: Ohio > OH - Ohio Administrative Code
    • Westlaw database OH-ADC
    • Lawriter:  http://codes.ohio.gov/oac
  • Ohio Monthly Record (OMR)
    • Gives notice to the public of repealed rules and proposed rules and publishes new and amended rules in chronological order on a monthly basis. 
    • Print Only:  Ohio 1 KFO36.O45
  •  Register of Ohio

Adjudications

Other States

Regulations

Use Lexis, Westlaw, or go to the state government website.  A good listing of Administrative Codes and Registers is at the Administrative Codes and Registers Section of the National Association of Secretaries of State, http://www.administrativerules.org (click on Administrative Rules).

Adjudications

  • Visit the appropriate state government portal and look for a list of state agencies.  Go to the agency in which you are interested and look for decisions, opinions, or orders.
  • Lexis & Westlaw
    • Go to the appropriate state and look for the category agency materials (it will be called something slightly different in each service).  Find the decisions, opinions or orders for the agency in which you are interested.

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