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Federal Tax Research Guide

A guide to conducting federal tax research.

Legislative History

As the Internal Revenue Code is a federal statute, current legislative research is performed in the same way as for any other other federal statute. Accordingly, it is recommended that the researcher consult Tarlton's Federal Legislative History Research guide for more detailed instructions.

Joint Committee on Taxation

In addition to the typical sources of legislative history, the Joint Committee on Taxation, a non-partisan congressional committee consisting of several members of the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Finance Committee, writes detailed analyses and explanations of recently-enacted federal tax legislation. Although not part of the legislative history per se, these explanations are very helpful for explaining and tracing the path of the legislation through Congress and giving the researcher an overview of adopted legislation. The Joint Committee's annual summaries of enacted tax legislation are called "Bluebooks." These Joint Committee explanations are available from their website.

Many of the Joint Committee's explanations are also available in print or electronically in Tarlton's collection. They may be found in the catalog by doing a keyword search using the keywords: "joint committee" and "explanation".

Compiled Legislative Histories

A researcher looking for legislative history of older tax statutes may wish to consult one of several pre-compiled legislative histories. One of the more notable compilations is Seidman's, which covers the earliest tax laws through 1953. CCH publishes explanations and histories for most of the significant laws that have tax provisions, and these may be located in the catalog with a keyword search for CCH tax explanation. The IRS also prints the text of tax legislation and committee reports in the Cumulative Bulletin. Excerpts of relevant portions of the legislative history are also provided in CCH's and Thomson Reuters (formerly RIA)'s print and online finding aids.

There are several precompiled legislative histories in TALLONS including: