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This guide explains how to access federal tax research sources available to QC students. It mainly makes reference to the accessible subscription electronic resources. Links to printed materials and free sources for federal tax research are also provided where available.

QC Library A-Z Databases
Databases for Accounting Subject

Major library databases for federal tax research:

It's good practice to analyze a tax issue by reviewing the sources in the following order:

  1. Internal Revenue Code
  2. Treasury Regulations
  3. IRS Rulings and Decisions
  4. Case Law

You can begin your research process with secondary sources, but you should analyze a tax problem by following the above basic steps.

Federal Tax Sources

  • Primary sources contain the law created by one of the branches of government
  • Secondary sources are any source that explains, analyzes, or comments on a primary source
Branch Type    Source
 Legislative     Code / Statutory Law
  • Internal Revenue Code (IRC) - - Federal tax law begins with the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), enacted by Congress in Title 26 of the United States Code (26 U.S.C.). it is amended from time to time
  •  Other Federal Statutes
  •  International Tax Treaties
  •  U.S. Constitution
 Executive     Regulations 
  • Treasury Regulations (26 C.F.R.) - commonly referred to as Federal tax regulations - issued by the Department of Treasury to pick up where the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) leaves off by providing the official interpretation of the IRC by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.  
Administrative Publications

IRS Administrative Documents (Rulings, Procedures, etc.)

Revenue Rulings are public administrative rulings by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) that apply the law to particular factual situations or refer to issues not adequately addressed by the code, regulations, or case law. A revenue ruling can be relied upon as precedent by all taxpayers.  Revenue rulings are published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin (IRB) which is available in CCH AnswerConnect (formerly CCH IntelliConnect), and Checkpoint Edge (formerly RIA Checkpoint).

Judicial Case Law   

Case Law: Tax Court Memorandum (TCM) - Court decisions deal with substantive tax matters usually where there is a dispute between the IRS and the taxpayer regarding the code. This is often an area that has not been addressed by the courts. TCM are available in CCH AnswerConnect (formerly CCH IntelliConnect), and Checkpoint Edge (formerly RIA Checkpoint).

Federal Cases from:
     Supreme Court
     Circuit Courts of Appeals
     District Courts
     Court of Federal Claims
     United States Tax Court

Type     Description
Handbooks, Deskbooks & Guides Handbooks and guides provide short overviews of the tax law, often with simple annotations and cross references. These are geared for practitioners, but can be a good starting point for someone starting out in tax research.
Tax Services Tax services are comprehensive tools that are used to locate all the relevant primary authority related to a particular tax issue.
Citators Citators can be used to track the history of a case, as well as to see which cases subsequently cited it. There are specialized citators for tax law, and in addition to providing the history of a case and the cases that cited it, these also provide citations to all the relevant administrative rulings, decision and other documents by the IRS.
Treatises Treatises are comprehensive publications on specific areas of tax law, including detailed history of the law, analysis and commentary.  Like handbooks and guides, these can be a good starting point for research, but they go into much more depth than the handbooks and guides.
Journal Articles Articles written by scholars and practitioners about specific issues in specific areas of tax law.

Checkpoint Edge

Navigate Checkpoint Edge (formerly RIA Checkpoint)

CCH AnswerConnect

Navigate CCH AnswerConnect (formerly CCH IntelliConnect)