Federal tax authority consists of primary and secondary sources. The government's legislative, administrative and judicial branches produce primary authority in the form of statutes, treaties, regulations, rulings and judicial decisions. The tax researcher needs to understand the functions of these governmental bodies and the sources of law which they promulgate.
Secondary sources of tax authority consist of unofficial publications, for example, treatises, tax services, and periodical literature. Secondary tax materials help to locate, explain, analyze and interpret primary tax resources. Understanding these basic concepts help make the task of finding print and electronic resources that publish these materials a systematic and methodical procedure that will facilitate the tax research process.
This research guide takes a bibliographic approach to federal tax research and explains how and where to find tax documentation. Indicated call numbers are specific to items in the Brooklyn Law School Library at Brooklyn Law School located in the Main Collection in the cellar level unless indicated otherwise.
Federal tax statutes are codified in Title 26 of the United States Code. Title 26 is commonly referred to as the Internal Revenue Code (IRC). The first IRC was passed in 1939. The IRC of 1939 was then comprehensively revised by, and replaced by, the IRC of 1954. The current version of the IRC is the IRC of 1986. The Tax Reform Act of 1986 substantively amended the IRC of 1954, so the statute was renamed the IRC of 1986.
Print Versions (Located on the Second Floor of the Library):
Free Online Sources:
Official v. Unofficial Versions of the Code
Date in Citation
Note that the date in a citation to the US Code, the USCA, or the USCS is the year of the code edition cited as it appears on the spine of the print volume or the title or copyright page, not the year a statute was enacted or last amended. The US Code is published every 6 years and an annual supplement is published each year in between. The latest (21st) edition of the Bluebook no longer requires a date when citing to the federal code, whether official or unofficial.
Citation to Supplements