Tax Law

Example of 1040 Tax Form

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