TaxConnections Picture - Tax MagnificationNow we are going to look at some non-IRS based research.  As we saw yesterday, the website is the mother of all tax research locations.  Well, today we are going to look for some siblings and cousins.

Of course when doing research you have to hit Google, Ask and Bing. But remember the responses you receive are not necessarily authoritative. Remember the biggest rule from part 1. Authenticate! When you do a search on the different sites for tax information start with a broad based search term and then use the search engine features that allow you to “search within the results” to narrow it down. Once you make a selection to look into, do your homework. Is this a paid professional research site like,,, or many others? Is this a free site like CNN Money, TaxPro Today, Accounting Today, or a host of others.  Is this a blog site from a Tax Professional? Is this a site from an educational institute? Is this a paid advertisement? I’ll say it again, do your homework and authenticate!

Once you decide on a source for your situation and have authenticated, review the material in full. Many times when people are researching they read until they get to the answer they think they want and stop. In those situations, it never fails, there is something further down in the material that either quashes their hopes or expands on them. Look for material with references to authoritative material from the various authorities mentioned in part 2. If there are links to these references, even better, use them!

I’ll leave you today with this thought:  Too little knowledge is a dangerous thing.  Too much knowledge is an impossibility!

Next up:  Basis Reconstruction.  Stay Tuned…

TaxConnections Picture - BooksLet’s do a quick review of the levels of authoritative research sources for the IRS. We are always being told that IRS pubs are not binding or authoritative in scope by the IRS so when we do research we need to dig deeper. The pubs are handy for helping the layman understand the process and they have some pretty good examples and formula computations. But you always need the underlying internal Revenue Code (IRC) for the pub. The IRC is the Holy Bible for the IRS. It gives them their cans and cant’s. It gives them their authority and also limits that authority. It is from whence all things income tax flows. If the IRC is the Bible then the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) is the how-to manual.

The authority on this subject, and the person who I strive to emulate, is Peter J. Scalise. His article, Tax Research Techniques, used with his permission, is the basis for the rest of this post.

• Step 1: Establish the facts and circumstances (Joe Friday Style: Just the facts, Ma’am!)

• Step 2: Determine all tax issues (even if the IRS hasn’t brought them up yet)

• Step 3: Identify the specific authorities involved: (who are YOU dealing with?)

Statutory Authority – The Internal Revenue Code (IRC)

Administrative Authority Read More