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Tax Research

This guide focuses on state and federal tax research sources available to the Boston College community.

Internal Revenue Code

The tax statutes define the tax base, establish penalties for noncompliance and authorize agencies to administer the tax law. The Internal Revenue Code is codified in Title 26 of the United States Code. The current Internal Revenue Code was enacted in 1986 with several subsequent amendments. Tax practitioners tend to refer to and cite the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 rather than the U.S. Code and when they do, they are referring to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended.







The Internal Revenue Code is divided into 11 subtitles. Each subtitle addresses a different tax subject. 



Income Taxes
B Estate & Gift Taxes
C Employment Taxes

Miscellaneous Excise Taxes

E Alcohol, Tobacco, and Certain Other Excise Taxes
F Procedure & Administration
G The Joint Committee on Taxation
H Financing of Presidential Election Campaigns
I Trust Fund Code
J Coal Industry Health Benefits
K Group Health Plan 

Sources for the Internal Revenue Code

Sources for the Current Internal Revenue Code

There are several sources for the current Internal Revenue Code. 


Tips for Finding Internal Revenue Code Sections

If you know the IRC section

If you know the IRC section or sections that you need to research tax research platforms have tools that make it easy to locate the full text of the sections you need.

  1. VitalLaw's Citation Search is a template that allows you to type in the Code section you need and pull it right up, eliminating the need to run a search or figure out the right citation format. It can also be used to locate other tax law materials like regulations or administrative guidance.  









  1. Checkpoint's Citation Search Tool that provides a template where you can just type in the section of the IRC that you need and pull up the full text.










When you don't know the relevant IRC section or sections

If you don't know which IRC sections apply to your research issue there are a number of ways to get started.

  1. Use an index to the U.S. Code.  An index allows you to search by subject and will provide references to the most relevant Code sections.  The annotated Codes on Westlaw and Lexis both have indexes that you can use. 
  2. If you have the name of a tax act but don't know the relevant code sections, you can use the Popular Name Table for the U.S. Code which allows you to look up the name of the act and will direct you to where that act was codified in the U.S. Code. Westlaw and Lexis both have a Popular Name Table for the U.S. Code.
  3. Start with a secondary source like a treatise. There are sources that cover a broad range of tax law topics while others focus on a particular tax area.  For tips on locating relevant secondary source, take a look at the Secondary Sources Tab in this Research Guide.