Federal Tax Law Research Guide: IRS Rulings and Pronouncements

The IRS issues various types of rulings and pronouncements, some of which are officially published by the IRS (in the IRS Bulletin) and may be cited as precedent, and some of which are not officially published and cannot be cited as precedent.

Treasury Decisions (T.D.)

Treasury Decisions are used to adopt regulations and provide helpful background information on those regulations. They are officially published in the IRS Bulletin.

Revenue Rulings (Rev. Rul.)

A Revenue Ruling is an official pronouncement of the IRS's National Office that applies the IRC and Regulations to a particular set of facts. The Ruling is usually written in response to a taxpayer request. A Revenue Ruling may be revoked or amended at any time; they are not final and conclusive. They do not carry as much authority as Treasury Regulations, but they may be cited as precedent. A Revenue Ruling is identified by the last two digits of the year in which it was issued and then by the sequential number for that year (e.g., Rev. Rul. 90-15 indicates the 15th ruling from 1990).

  1. Internal Revenue Bulletin/Cumulative Bulletin
  2. Standard federal tax reports. Taxes on parade (Online)
  3. RIA Checkpoint: Perform Keyword Search, setting search limits: under "Primary Source Materials," select IRS Rulings and Releases

Revenue Procedures (Rev. Proc.)

A Revenue Procedure is an official statement by the IRS about the practices and procedures to be followed by taxpayers or by the IRS. It may be cited as precedent.

  1. Internal Revenue Bulletin/Cumulative Bulletin
  2. Standard federal tax reports. Taxes on parade (Online)
  3. RIA Checkpoint: Perform Keyword Search, setting search limits: under "Primary Source Materials," select IRS Rulings and Releases.

Private Letter Rulings (Priv. Ltr. Rul.; LTR)

The IRS's National Office issues Private Letter Rulings, also called Letter Rulings, in response to a taxpayer's request for the IRS's interpretation of the IRC and regulations regarding a particular situation (usually a prospective transaction). Letter Rulings are not binding on the IRS and cannot be cited as precedent, but they can provide useful information on how the IRS may treat a similar transaction. They are numbered by the year, week, and order of issuance (e.g., LTR 923242 indicates the 42nd ruling, issued in the 32nd week of 1992).

  1. RIA Checkpoint: Perform Keyword Search, setting search limits: under "Primary Source Materials," select IRS Rulings and Releases
  2. LexisNexis Academic: Click Legal Research, then Tax Law. Search within Source: Private Letter Rulings/Tax Advice Memorandum

Actions on Decisions (AOD)

An Action on Decision (AOD) is a legal memorandum issued by the IRS Chief Counsel's office whenever a court, other than the U.S. Tax Court, rules against the government in a case. The action on decision recommends the action that the IRS should take in response to the decision.

  1. Internal Revenue Bulletin/Cumulative Bulletin
  2. Standard federal tax reports. Taxes on parade (Online)
  3. RIA Checkpoint: Perform Keyword Search, setting search limits: under "Primary Source Materials," select IRS Rulings and Releases
  4. LexisNexis Academic: Click Legal Research, then Tax Law. Search within Source: IRS Actions & Memoranda

Technical Advice Memoranda (Tech. Adv. Mem.; TAM)

When an IRS district office requests technical advice relating to an audit or refund claim, the IRS national office responds by providing Technical Advice Memoranda (TAM) that offer guidance on applying the tax law to a transaction that has already occurred. The TAM applies only to the taxpayer whose audit or refund claim was in question. However, they may be useful to other taxpayers in providing the IRS's position in a given area. TAMs are not included in any official IRS publication.

  1. RIA Checkpoint: Perform Keyword Search, setting search limits: under "Primary Source Materials," select IRS Rulings and Releases
  2. LexisNexis Academic: Click Legal Research, then Tax Law. Search within Source: Private Letter Rulings/Tax Advice Memorandum

Technical Memoranda (TM)

Technical Memoranda (TM) are government documents that explain the rationale behind Treasury Decisions. They generally provide background information on regulations.

  • LexisNexis Academic: Click Legal Research, then Tax Law. Search within Source: IRS Actions & Memoranda

General Counsel Memoranda (GCM; Gen. Couns. Mem.)

General Counsel Memoranda (GCM) provide the reasoning used in Revenue Rulings, Technical Advice Memoranda, and Private Letter Rulings.

  1. RIA Checkpoint: Perform Keyword Search, setting search limits: under "Primary Source Materials," select IRS Rulings and Releases
  2. LexisNexis Academic: Click Legal Research, then Tax Law. Search within Source: IRS Actions & Memoranda

Acquiescences (Acq.)

When the U.S. Tax Court issues a regular decision that is adverse to the IRS, the Commissioner may announce an acquiescence or nonacquiescence in the decision on a particular issue. An acquiescence means that the IRS will follow the decision in similar situations. Occasionally, the IRS will modify or revoke an acquiescence, with the change taking effect retroactively. A nonacquiescence means that the IRS may continue to contest similar disputes. In addition, the Commissioner may choose to remain silent and not issue an acquiescence or nonacquiescence.

Internal Revenue Bulletin/Cumulative Bulletin

IRS Publications

IRS Publications are issued to assist taxpayers. Although they may contain useful information, they do not cite to authority and should not be relied upon by researchers. In addition, the information in the Publications is written from the point of view of the government.

  1. Print: Reproducible Taxpayer Information Publications available in the RefRm, 1993 to present.
  2. Internet: http://www.irs.gov/ (Click More Forms and Publications for all options)
  3. RIA Checkpoint: Perform Keyword Search, setting search limits: under "Primary Source Materials," select IRS Publications

IRS Notices

The IRS issues Notices relating to items of general importance.

  1. Standard federal tax reports. Taxes on parade (Online)
  2. RIA Checkpoint: Perform Keyword Search, setting search limits: under "Primary Source Materials," select IRS Rulings and Releases

Forms

  1. Print: Reproducible Taxpayer Forms available in the RefRm, 1993 to present.
  2. Internet: http://www.irs.gov/ (Click More Forms and Publications for all options)
  3. Internet: See also, Tax Forms and Tax Information (/Guides/GovPubs-Taxes)