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Tax Research Tutorial

Ten Steps to Tax Research

Step 1) Establish the Facts; Identify the Issues

When researching a tax question you must first establish the facts of the specific case you are researching and then accurately identify the relevant potential issues presented by the problem. West's Federal Tax Research (Raabe, et al.) outlines the steps to follow in the tax research process. It also serves as a valuable reference to the primary and secondary sources of tax research with illustrative examples of how to use them and how to interpret citations to them.

Step 2) Make a List of Possible Keywords, Concepts and Terminology

In doing tax research you will find that specific words and phrases are used to refer to common tax problems. Each tax question is associated with specific tax terminology. Begin your search by making a list of potential keywords that describe the tax questions.

Step 3) Find an Overview of the Topic in a Tax Reporter

Search one of the tax reporting services using your keywords to find an overview of the topic. UNLV subscribes to the United States Tax Reporter and the Federal Tax Coordinator 2d in RIA CHECKPOINT. You may also use an annual handbook, RIA's Federal Tax Handbook as an entry point to the tax reporters. 

Step 4) Identify Relevant IRS Code Sections, Regulations and Rulings, Publications and Other Relevant Primary Authority

The Standard Federal Tax Reporter (RIA CHECKPOINT) is arranged by Internal Revenue Code Section. This emphasizes the primacy of the Code as the basis for tax law. Administrative sources that interpret and explain the Code include Treasury Department and IRS Regulations, Revenue Rulings and other pronouncements. These documents are published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin and cumulated twice a year in the Cumulative Bulletin

Step 5) Find Relevant Court Cases

Judicial sources of tax law consist of the various court rulings on federal tax matters. These court cases are published in the United States Tax Court Cases, Tax Court Memorandum Decisions and RIA's American Federal Tax Reports. Hyperlinked references to the full-text of these cases are found throughout RIA CHECKPOINT. Count cases are also available in Lexis-Nexis.

Step 6) Use a Citator to Update Cases

Citators are tax research tools that enable you to trace a court case (called a cited case) and find out both its history and how it has been cited in other court cases (citing cases). RIA CHECKPOINT has citators hyperlinked to the full text of the relevant cases and IRS documents.

Step 7) Search Current Tax News Sources for the Latest Developments

Tax Analysts is a leading publisher of tax news and analysis. It covers federal, state and international tax issues. RIA's Federal Taxes Weekly Alert Newsletter report current tax-related items including recent court decisions, IRS actions, legislative developments and other tax news. You should check these sources to make sure you are aware of any recent or prospective developments affecting your area of inquiry. They are included in RIA CHECKPOINT. Current tax news sources are also available in Factiva and Lexis-Nexis.

Step 8) Find In-depth Journal Articles and Tax Planning Materials

There are many specialized Tax Journals that regularly publish in-depth articles on tax topics especially in areas where the tax law has recently changed or is unsettled. Examples include The Tax Adviser, Journal of Taxation, and the Tax Analyst Journals. Tax Analysts specializes in analyzing complex tax issues. You can search for articles in these journals by using one of the Articles databases such as Accounting & Tax, ABI/INFORM, Business Source Premier, Factiva, or Lexis-Nexis. Tax planning services are written for tax practitioners to help them advise clients. We have access to tax planning materials in RIA CHECKPOINT.

Step 9) Look for Tax Treatises

Tax treatises are written by experts in specific areas of tax law and are meant to be comprehensive, up-to-date treatments of the topic. There are some Warren, Gorham & Lamont treatises in RIA CHECKPOINT.

Step 10) Putting It All Together

The Internet-based tax service RIA CHECKPOINT enables you to search across multiple publications simultaneously and retrieve documents from tax reporters, the Internal Revenue Code, IRS Regulations and Revenue Rulings, court cases, tax newsletters, editorial analyses and planning materials, all of which have hyperlinked cross-references. You can supplement these material with in-depth Articles from the Tax Journals and tax treatises. You may wish to explore some of the other tax-related Web sites such as Tax World and

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