Tax Research Sites – Free

In my opinion, this is one of the best “free” on-line research sites for case law. Google Scholar (GS) provides an excellent database of court opinions (Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, District court, tax court, etc.). With its full text search engine your likely to get good results to start your tax research project. The advantage of GS is the Google search engine which allows you to search by text rather than using a legal citation or docket number. GS includes law journals, in-addition to State supreme court and intermediate appellate opinions for all 50 states from 1950 to the present. GS will find, rank and link relevant cases better than most other free tax research sites. Its main drawback is it does not yet provide the ability to determine if your tax case is still good law (such as Shepard’s or KeyCite) which is crucial any tax research. GS also lacks any federal or state statutes though Google continues to update this site.

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Legal Bitstream this tax research site contains a database offering tax cases (1990 to present) though even then not all the tax cases are available for these years. You can find tax regulations (1981 to present), and published and non-published IRS material. Documents published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin (IRB) are included in this database. These documents consist of Revenue Rulings(1954 to present), Revenue Procedures(1955 to present), Announcements (1990 to present), Notices (1980 to present), Treasury Decisions (both temporary and final regulations) (1954 to present), Proposed Regulations (1981 to present), Delegation Orders (1955 to present) and Executive Orders (1954 to present). Other non-published IRS Materials included in this database (i.e., documents that are not published in the IRB) include Technical Memoranda and News Releases, Private Letter Rulings, General Counsel Memoranda and Actions on Decisions.

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This tax research site allows you to obtain federal court dockets (i.e., all materials filed by the court or by any party (including amicus curiae) in a court proceeding). Currently this site provides access to all federal district civil, criminal, and bankruptcy courts, as well as the U.S. Supreme Court, Federal Court of Claims, and the Court of International Trade. In general, courts assign each newly filed action with a docket number, which often refers to the year in which the case was commenced followed by a sequential reference number, and sometimes includes letters or numbers indicating the type (civil, criminal, etc.) or location of filing and/or the initials of the judge to whom the case is assigned.

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This site provides Congressional bills, Congressional Record, committee reports and more. Users may track bills as they move through the House and Senate, read and download the text of pending bills and see how their representatives and senators vote. The search feature allows users to look for bills by name, number, subject, sponsor and other criteria. The site contains bill summaries from 1973 to the present; bill text from 1989 to the present; public laws from 1973 forward; the Congressional Record from 1989 to the present; committee reports from the 104th Congress to the current Congress; and historical documents and presidential nomination information. The site was originally a beta site to transform the Library of Congress’s existing congressional information system into a modern, durable and user-friendly resource. Now it incorporates all of the information available from THOMAS.gov. Since its release in 1995, THOMAS.gov has undergone multiple updates. In its present form, the foundation of the system can no longer support the technological expectations of today’s users. The goal of Congress.gov is to provide a user- friendly site with a strong technical infrastructure.

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The Government Printing Office website (GPO), is a free source for many types of tax legal data. It recently added a new feature which allows access to court opinions for federal appellate, district and bankruptcy court opinions. This project provides free online access to federal court opinions in 64 courts and provides access to more than 750,000 opinions, many dating back to 2004. Collections on FDsys are divided into appellate, district or bankruptcy court opinions and are text-searchable across courts. The only problem with this site is it is not user friendly. Many of its documents, unlike GS, are in a pdf type format. You should carefully review the instructions before attempting to use GPO for tax research. GPO primary law information is also an excellent source for your tax research. This includes the Code of Federal Regulations, the Federal Register, the U.S. Tax Code, and legislative history documents such as the Congressional Record, committee reports and hearings. GPO recently added the U.S. Statutes at Large (SL) from 1951-2011. The SL is the official source for federal laws and concurrent resolutions passed by Congress. They are compilations of “slip laws,” bills enacted by both chambers of Congress and signed by the President. Though many people look to the US Code to find the law, many sections of the Code are not the “official” law. An office within the House of Representatives reorganizes the contents of the slip laws into the 50 titles that make up the US Code, but unless the reorganized document (the US Code) is itself passed by Congress and signed into law by the President, it remains an unofficial source of US law. At this time, only half of the titles of the US Code (not including title 26 – Internal Revenue Code) have been enacted by Congress, and thus are law themselves. GPO has also developed a system for authenticating many of these digital documents, which are then considered official and can be cited in legal documents. As an example, FDsys provides access to the full text of the Code of Federal Regulations, from 2000 through the current version. This version of the CFR is in pdf format and has been designated “official” by the GPO and the courts, and as such it can be cited in court documents.

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TheFreeDictionary’s legal dictionary from West’s Encyclopedia of American Law, Edition 2, contains more than 4,000 entries detailing terms, concepts, events, movements, cases, and individuals significant to United States law. This dictionary also incorporates The People’s Law Dictionary, which is regarded by many legal professionals as one of the most practical works of its kind. This dictionary is a comprehensive source of meanings and use for thousands of today’s most common legal terms.

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This is the U.S. government’s official web portal with links to the three branches of the U.S. government (i.e., the legislative, judicial, and executive branches) which can help you with your tax research. This site was legislatively mandated through Section 204 of the E-Government Act of 2002. Since this time, the site has received an annual appropriation from the U.S. Congress.

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