Welcome to the Federal Tax Basic Research Guide. This guide will help you start your research of federal tax issues by helping you understand the sources of tax law, research methodology, the resources available, and the tax research databases.
When researching tax, remember that certain authority carries more weight than other authority. Certain resources have precedential authority, meaning it must be followed by a court or agency, while other authority is persuasive, meaning it is given little, if any, deference by a court or agency. Unique to tax situations is substantial authority. For more information, refer to IRC § 6662.
At the center of our tax research target, we have primary resources. This includes statutes (such as the Internal Revenue Code), followed by administrative regulations (treasury regulations and pronouncements from the IRS), and then case law (from tax court or other federal courts).
Secondary sources, such as tax services, journals, and newsletters, help us understand the primary authority.
Like other areas of legal research, the basic tax research methodology is as follows:
1. Establish the facts.
2. Identify the issues.
3. Locate authority.
4. Evaluate authority.
Repeat steps 1-4 as necessary to complete research and analysis of issues.
5. Develop conclusions and recommendations.
6. Communicate research results and recommendations.