Chapter 1: Legal Research, Understanding Legal References

Publisher Comments:


In any legal case, proceeding or plan you may be involved with, it is always best to perform your own research to make sure that the information you have is current and valid. This is important for your own protection.


Since there are plethora of legal resources, one must know which reporting system is being used in any particular mater. A reporting system is the name of a book of legal decisions or opinions. Example: The United States Supreme Court decisions are reported in either:

(a) the United States Reports, the Lawyer’s Edition, or

(b) the United States Supreme Court Reports.


If the abbreviation on the court citation reads “U.S.”, the case would be in the United States Reports. “L.Ed.” stands for the Lawyer’s Edition while “SS. Ct.” stands for United States Supreme Court Reports. Decisions of the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals are reported in the Federal Reporter; abbreviated “F.” Decisions of the United States District Courts are found in the Federal Supplement; abbreviated as “F. Supp.”  To find a case being cited, the first number is the volume of the book and the second is the page number. For example, the entry “Gregory v. Helvering 293 U.S. 465” tells you that the case Gregory v. Helvering may be found in volume 293, page 465 of the United States Reports.


Federal laws are codified into titles called United States Code. Title 26 of the United States Code is also known as the Internal Revenue Code; abbreviated as “I.R.C.” Treasury regulations are codified in the “C.F.R.”, the Code of Federal Regulations. Treasury decisions are abbreviated as “T.D.” The “I.R.M.”, Internal Revenue Manual, is about administrative guidelines and procedures that the Internal Revenue Service uses (but are not legally bound) in the fulfillment of its tax assessment and collection duties.


Understanding these basic research principals will be important to your success in any legal endeavor, especially involving the IRS. Not only should you be familiar with the law, but understanding basic research is necessary to proceed on your own. Case law changes often, in order to understand the history of any particular case related to any legal subject IRS or otherwise you will need to become familiar with Shepard’s Citations.


In the third edition of the “Boston Tea Party”, Chapter 1, the Michael Ioane provides a summary of legal research.