Court Jurisdiction of Tax Issues and Appellate StructureAccessing Tax Case Law
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Tax Law Research  

Last Updated: Aug 22, 2017 URL: http://libguides.law.usd.edu/taxlaw Print Guide RSS Updates

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About IRS Docs - How to Use This Drop-Down List

One element of tax law research that is often confusing to the researcher is the variety of different types of documents that are issued by the Internal Revenue Service.  These documents are often referred to as IRS Pronouncements. They may also be referred to as Agency Materials.  The purpose of this list is to explain each type of document:

1.  What the Document Is/How it is Used

      A.  Important considerations for each document type include:

            i.  Is it "officially published" by the IRS and directed to all taxpayers?

            ii.  Is it "publicly available" but directed to a specific taxpayer?

            iii.  What is the document's authoritative value?

a.  Keep in mind that in the world of tax law, there is a special class of authoritative value.  This relates to whether or not a taxpayer can rely on a document to prevent imposition of the 20% penalty for substantial understatement of income tax liability.  The Code provides that the penalty is waived if the taxpayer provides "substantial authority" for their position. Treas. Reg. §1.662-4(d)(3)(iii) lists specific documents that can be used as "substantial authority."  If a particular document is listed in the Regulations as a "substantial authority" document, that will be noted in this Guide.  However, "substantial authority" in this context should be recognized as a term of art, and does not indicate that a particular document in the drop-down list has a greater relative authority than another document.  The relative authority of documents and sources will also be discussed. 

2.  How to Access the Document Type

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