Tax litigation can be heard in the
Tax Court or in the Federal District
There are two types of Tax Court
decisions: reported and memorandum.
Reported decisions usually involve a
dispute about the interpretation of
the Internal Revenue Code. Tax Court
Memoranda usually involve a dispute
about facts but not interpretation
of the law and cannot be officially
cited as precedent by other
REPORTED TAX COURT CASES
Reported Tax Court cases are officially published in the Tax
Court Reporter and receive a
citation showing the volume and page
number (e.g., 109 T.C. 23).
TAX COURT MEMORANDUM
Tax Court Memorandum decisions are not
officially reported, but they are
published in a number of sources.
They often are cited by their year
and number (e.g., T.C. Memo.
1997-12), which are assigned by the
The other federal courts that can
hear tax cases are the District
Courts and the Federal Court of
Claims. Their decisions are reported
in various unofficial reporters.
Appeals from the District Courts and
the Tax Court go up to the Courts of
Appeals. These are arranged into
twelve circuits. Decisions of the
Courts of Appeals are reported in
various unofficial reporters.
The United States Supreme Court has
discretion to hear appeals from the
Courts of Appeals.
The Internal Revenue Service, a
branch of the Treasury Department,
is charged with enforcing federal
tax law. As part of that function,
it promulgates its own
interpretations of federal tax law.
These interpretations carry varying
weights of authority.
Regulations are prepared by the
Chief Counsel of the IRS and
approved by the Treasury Department.
The IRS must comply with notice and
hearing procedures once the Treasury
Department has approved a regulation
in order for that regulation to take
effect, but once a regulation is in
effect, it has the force of law and
is treated as such by courts and the
There are three types of
regulations: PROPOSED, TEMPORARY,
Proposed Regulations are issued by the IRS in order to
comply with the notice and hearing
requirements. The IRS invites public
comment on proposed regulations.
Proposed regulations that make it
through the notice and hearing phase
and are approved become final.
Proposed regulations are not law
until they become final, but are a
good guide for tax practitioners
because they show what the IRS is
Temporary Regulations are put in effect when the IRS feels
it does not have time to comply with
the notice and hearing requirements.
They do have the force of law while
they are in effect, and they are
usually promulgated simultaneously
with identical proposed regulations.
Final Regulations are what proposed regulations become
once they have completed the notice
and hearing process. They have the
force of law.
Final and temporary regulations are
issued in Treasury Decisions, which
contain the text of the regulation
plus a preamble. The preamble
generally explains the reasons why
the regulation is being promulgated.
It may also explain differences
between the final regulations and
proposed regulations (if any) and
address comments the IRS may have
received on the proposed
regulations. Preambles are cited by
their treasury decision number in
the Analysis and Explanation: TD
OTHER PUBLISHED IRS
Other IRS pronouncements have less
authority than the regulations
because they do not comply with the
formal notice and hearing
requirements, but they are still
quite valuable to tax practitioners
because they demonstrate how the IRS
will rule on particular issues.
REVENUE RULINGS Revenue Rulings are
issued by the National Office of the
IRS and give the IRS interpretation
of tax law as it applies to specific
facts of broad application. They
represent the IRS's official
interpretation of the law and are
designed to promote uniform
interpretation of the law by all IRS
offices and to guide taxpayers.
Revenue Procedures are statements of IRS procedure
published by the National Office.
NOTICES AND ANNOUNCEMENTS
Notices and Announcements are
published by the IRS in the Internal
Revenue Bulletin. Notices and
Announcements state important items
of general interest, such as
amendments to forms or changes in