Tax Research Techniques, 10th Edition


Tax Research Techniques provides a working knowledge of the methodology of implementation-based tax research. Drawing on the latest developments in online research, the authors reveal how to ask the right questions, organize the facts, locate and assess pertinent authority, and clearly communicate research findings.

The Trusted Research Training Manual for Over 30 Years

As tax laws and tax research methods have changed over the past three decades,Tax Research Techniques has been a trusted resource to guide students and practitioners alike to best practices for efficient tax research. This latest edition updates examples and illustrations to highlight changes in tax law and online tax research over the past several years.

Tax Research Techniques will sharpen your knowledge of these five key tax research procedures:

  • How to Get the Facts
  • How to Ask Expert Questions
  • How to Search for the Right Authority
  • How to Resolve the Question
  • How to Communicate Your Conclusions

New and updated sections reflect the continuously evolving advances in the technology of Web-based research.

Robert L. Gardner, Ph.D., is a professor at the Robert J. Smith Professor of Accountancy, Marriott School of Accountancy, Brigham Young University

Dave N. Stewart, CPA, Ph.D., is a professor at Rachel Martin Professor of Accountancy, Marriott School of Accountancy, Brigham Young University

Ronald G. Worsham, Jr., CPA, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor, Marriott School of Accountancy, Brigham Young University

Chapter 1: Tax Research in Perspective 1

Meaning of Research in General 2

Research for Implementation of Rules 2

Research for Policy Determination 6

Research for Advancement of Knowledge 7

Examples of Tax Research 7

Chapter 2: The Critical Role of Facts 11

The Importance of Facts to Tax Questions 11

Facts--Established and Anticipated 13

Compliance 14

Planning 17

Some Common Fact Questions 19

Fair Market Value 20

Reasonable Salaries 21

Casualty and Theft Losses 21

Gifts 22

Illustrative Fact Cases 22

Gifts or Income? 22

Deductible or Not? 31

Chapter 3: The Elusive Nature of Tax Questions 55

Initial Statement of the Question 56

Minimal Technical Competence 57

Intermediate Technical Competence 58

Extensive Technical Competence 60

Restatement of the Initial Question After Some Research 61

Dangers Inherent in Statements of Questions 62

A Comprehensive Example 63

Diagramming the Facts 64

First Questions Call for Additional Facts 65

The Authority 67

Additional Questions 69

More Authority 69

More Questions and More Facts 70

First Tentative Conclusions 71

More Questions, More Authority 72

The Final Question 76

Summary 77

Chapter 4: Identifying Appropriate Authority 79

Statutory Law: The Tax-Legislation Process 80

The Internal Revenue Code 82

Treaties 88

Administrative Law 90

Treasury Regulations 90

Revenue Rulings 94

Revenue Procedures 95

Notices and Announcements 96

Letter Rulings 97

Technical Advice Memoranda, Determination Letters, and Chief Counsel Advice 98

General Counsel Memoranda 99

Action on Decision 99

Judicial Interpretations 100

US Tax Court 101

US District Courts 104

US Court of Federal Claims 104

US Circuit Courts of Appeals 107

US Supreme Court 108

Special Tax Reporter Series 109

Editorial Information 109

Tax Research Services 110

Treatises 113

Tax Journals 113

Tax Newsletters 114

Summary 114

Chapter 5: Locating Appropriate Authority 115

Online Services 116

Search Strategies 117

Finding a Known Primary Authority 117

Using a Table of Contents to Locate Authority 121

Using an Index to Locate Editorial Information 133

Using a Keyword Search 137

Formulating a Search Request 137

Issues 138

Terms or Phrases 138

Logical Connectors 141

Proximity of Terms and Phrases 141

Scope 142

Combining Search Strategies 145

Validating Tax Law Authority 146

Citator Databases 147

Searching Citator Databases 147

Validating Administrative Authority 152

Chapter 6: Assessing and Applying Authority 155

The Law is Clear--The Facts Are Uncertain 156

The Facts Are Clear--The Law Is Questionable 158

Conflicting Statutes 158

Conflict Between a Statute and the Intent of a Statute 159

Conflicting Interpretations 160

The Facts Are Clear--The Law Is Incomplete 164

The Facts Are Clear--The Law Is Nonexistent 169

Standards for Recommending a Tax Return Position 169

Chapter 7: Communicating Tax Research 173

Internal Communications 174

Memo to the File 174

Leaving Tracks 176

External Communications 177

Client Letters 177

Protest Letters 181

Requests for Letter Rulings and Determination Letters 186

Chapter 8: Tax Research in the Closed-Fact Case: An Example 195

Chapter 9: Research Methodology for Tax Planning 233

Tax-Planning Considerations 234

Statutory Options 235

Client Constraints 235

Creativity 236

Tax-Planning Aids 236

Editorial Materials 236

Continuing Education 237

Tree Diagrams 238

A Tax-Planning Example 239

Stock Versus Asset Acquisition 241

Other Considerations 241

Five Corporate Reorganization Options 242

Summary 245

Tax-Planning Communications 246

Appendix A: Tax and Business Websites for Researchers, Advisers, and Students 249

Appendix B: Circular 230 Considerations 257

Circular 230 Disclaimers 258

For Additional Information 259

Index 261