Each of the three branches of the U.S. government plays a role in the federal tax laws.
- Legislative: Congress = Promulgate the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) codified in Title 26 of the U.S.C.
- Executive: Treasury Department (Internal Revenue Service) = Promulgate regulations and agency documents that interpret and give directions on how to comply with the law
- Judicial: U.S. Tax Court, U.S. District Courts, U.S. Courts of Claims, U.S. Courts of Appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court = Adjudicate case law that resolve disputes between the IRS and the tax payer.
The Internal Revenue Code (IRC)
- Codified in Title 26 of the United States Code (U.S.C.)
- Main sections
- A = income taxes (§§ 1 – 1564)
- B = estate and gift taxes (§§ 2001 – 2801)
- C = employment taxes and withholding (§§ 3101 – 3510)
IRS Documents represent the official position of the IRS but have less authority than treasury regulations because they do not go through the normal notice and comment period.
- Revenue Rulings
- Revenue Procedures
- Notices and Announcements
- Private Letter Rulings (PLRs)
- Technical Advice Memoranda (TAMs)
- Chief Counsel Advice
- IRS Publications = Plain English interpretations of tax provisions
- Circular 230 = Governs those who practice before the IRS (attorneys, CPAs and others who provide advice to tax payers on tax issues)
Cases from the U.S. Tax Court
- Regular Opinions = Resolve disputes over interpretation of IRC
- Tax Court Memoranda = Resolve disputes concerning facts but not the interpretation of the IRC