A. Identify the Facts - Taxation research is much more fact-grounded than areas such as tort, criminal or constitutional law. Answers to research questions frequently depend on whether a taxpayer falls within or outside of given statutory criteria. Throughout your research, as you begin to find the answers to the issues you are researching, you will need to stop to gather additional facts.
B. Identify the Issues - After you have collected your beginning set of facts, you should be able to identify an issue that has brought your client to see you. As you begin your research, you will likely find more issues that will need to be addressed.
C. Identify the Appropriate Sources of Law - The United States Constitution, Amendment XVI, grants the United States Congress the power to lay and collect taxes on income. Unlike other areas of the law that may have a preexisting common law basis, taxation law in the Anglo-American legal system is completely a creature of statute. The sources of taxation law you will ordinarily need to research are:
- United States Constitution
- Taxation treaties with other countries
- Taxation acts passed by Congress
- Agency regulations interpreting those acts
- Judicial opinions
D. Identify Other Important Congressional and Agency Interpretive Documents
- Congressional Documents - Legislative History
- Agency Documents
E. Identify and find the Appropriate Analytical Materials - Depending on your expertise in the area, you may or may not be able to look immediately at publications containing the sources of law (annotated statutes, the Code of Federal Regulations, agency documents, case reporters). You may need to start your research using analytical materials such as specialized tax services, tax journals and newsletters, and tax textbooks and treatises.
- Journals & Periodicals
- Online Tax Research Guides
- Tax forms
- Websites & Blogs
F. Evaluate the Legal Authorities Found
G. Develop Conclusions and Recommendations
H. Communicate Your Recommendations
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