Sponsored by the BRASS Education Committee
University of Alabama
See the BRASS Best of the Best Business Web Sites (Free Websites) page on Accounting & Taxation for quick links to selected, highly-useful resources on this topic.
Questions about tax generally can be grouped according to entity; the answer will depend on whether the tax affects a person, a business, or a non-profit organization. Taxes can be levied by various types of jurisdictions, so determining whether the tax in question derives from a local or municipal tax, county or state tax, federal tax, or other country will lead one to the authoritative source.
Librarians should be familiar with sources for the most common tax questions listed in this guide. One will find direction for personal, non-profit, and business tax. State, federal, and foreign tax sources are listed.
Accounting and tax questions are often related and research of one area may include research in the other. Consult the Accounting Guide for more information on that topic.
Special acknowledgement goes to Edith Gilbreath for her initial work for this page and to Tony Lin, library volunteer and now graduate library school student, for support in locating some of these sources.
The vocabulary of taxation is specialized, extensive, changes frequently with new tax laws, and can have legal interpretations, only a few of those terms are defined here, and references to more extensive glossaries. Included also are frequently-referenced tax publications. The following three publications were consulted for tax terms and tax research basics. Unless otherwise specified, the definitions are taken from Lavin.
Lavin, Michael R. "Chapter 20: Taxation and Accounting." In Business Information: How to Find it How to Use it, 2nd ed., pp. 452-472. Phoenix: Oryx, 1992.
Moss, Rita W. "Chapter 9: Accounting and Taxation." In Strauss’s Handbook of Business Information: A Guide for Librarians, Students, and Researchers, 2nd ed., pp. 189-230. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2004.
Minars, David & Richard A. Westin. Shepard’s McGraw-Hill Tax Dictionary for Business. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994.
Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) - Regulations of federal agencies, including the U. S. Department of the Treasury.
Committee Reports - Used to research intent of tax law and the IRC (Internal Revenue Code).
Cumulative Bulletin - Published semi-annually by the IRS, includes treasury decisions, revenue rulings, tax treaties, statutes, committee reports, Revenue Procedures, and administrative notices.
Excise Tax - A fixed fee on goods and services, can be for estate, gift, sales, occupational licenses, or businesses. (Moss)
Internal Revenue Service - An agency of the Department of Treasury responsible for administering and managing taxation, and federal tax law. (Moss)
IRC, Internal Revenue Code of 1986 - The current tax law and its amendments. (Moss)
Revenue Ruling - Published responses to specific tax queries from the IRS. May stem originally from Private Letter Rulings.
Property Tax - Can be for income, property, corporate, or individual. (Moss)
Tax - "an enforced contribution, extracted pursuant to legislative authority... for the purposes of raising revenue to be used for public or governmental purposes." Rev. Rul. 57-345, 1957-2 CB 132. (Minars & Westin, p. 428)
Tax Credit - Directly reduces a tax liability for that year, such as a credit for machinery or paying estimated taxes for coming year. Can be refundable or nonrefundable. (Minars & Westin, p. 88)
Treasury Decisions (T.D.) - Tax regulations emanating from the IRS, numbered sequentially. Cumulated annually into the Code of Federal Regulations 26.
U.S. Tax Court Reports - Published Regular Decisions of federal tax cases heard by full court. Memorandum Decisions are unpublished decisions of cases heard by single judge.
Web sites for Tax vocabulary:
H&R Block Tax Glossary
IRS Glossary of Tax Terms
Yahoo Tax Glossary
The U.S. Treasury website offers lesson fact sheets in taxation. They cover history, economics, legislation, and definitions for various state and local taxes.
- Klopper, Susan M. "Taxing Research." EContent 23, issue 3 (2000): 12-22. Retrieved from Ebsco Academic Search Elite at http://www.ebscohost.com on March 20, 2001.
For those needing to research tax questions in depth, or who want an understanding of the tax research process, this article provides everything from a short history to key associations, publishers, and tax services for the professional. Klopper includes a lesson in taxation process by leading the reader to the critical secondary sources for tax legislation and interpretation. She also recommends further reading and additional web sites.
Lasser, J. K. Your Income Tax. (annual). New York: Simon & Schuster.
- U. S. Internal Revenue Service
Federal tax information for individuals, businesses, and nonprofits. There are additional links for state and local tax questions, and another for tax professionals. The site is organized in a frequently asked questions (FAQ) format.
- Tax Resources on the Web
A large directory of common tax topics with links to many forms compiled by an individual with business and taxation degrees. An added feature is the Google search capability for the site.
BRASS Best of the Best Accounting and Taxation Web Sites
- Yahoo Finance Tax Center
Divided into the categories of forms, tools, education, and resources. Also contains tax tips and tax information for investors. The site emphasizes personal tax and education.
- Internal Revenue Service. Forms and Publications
The site provides links to electronic filing, downloadable and printable tax forms including prior years, and a link to state tax forms. Also found here are the forms to file for extensions and answers to frequently asked questions. Local IRS offices, many public libraries, and some post offices carry the most commonly-used tax forms for state, national, and local income taxes during the tax season.
- Federation of Tax Administrators
The FTA is a professional tax association specializing in state taxes. It features income, sales, and excise taxes for states, as well as historical tax rate tables. This site offers a useful link to all authorized state taxing bodies. For example California has three taxing authorities, depending on the type of tax collected.
- IRS Link to State Tax Sites
- Each state will have tax forms on their websites or phone numbers or addresses where you can request needed forms. Note that some states may have more that one destination depending on the type of tax form needed.
- Ryan Salt Gateway
Recommended by D. Harrington in her ">article listed below. The Ryan website provides state tax information by jurisdiction and the areas of e-commerce, excise and fuels tax, income and franchise, payroll, property, sales and use taxes, etc.
- The State Government Tax Collections (STC)
The STC report lists the various taxes collected by each state.
- Tax Foundation. State Finance
Find 50 state tax rates, facts and data, and reports on state collection and revenue expenditures. Personal, corporate, sales, and excise tax rates. Includes links to additional sources of state tax information, such as State Departments of Revenue, Tax Analysts, Commerce Clearing House, Federation of Tax Administrators, Fiscal Survey of States by National Association of State Budget Officers, legislation reported by American Legislative Exchange Council, State Policy Network’s directory of state groups, and the Council on State Taxation.
- Internal Revenue Service
The IRS maintains a detailed web site and phone line, 800-829-1040 which you can call to find the answers to your questions. IRS web site also offers answers to commonly asked questions. To get more personal services contact professional tax preparers or public CPAs (Certified Public Accountants). Each state has its own CPA organization that can provide directory information.
- Internal Revenue Service. Tax Information for Individuals.
Answers to commonly asked questions for individuals includes refunds, tax credits, withholding calculators, children, educational expenses, deductions, foreign nationals, elderly, armed forces, local IRS taxpayer assistance centers and other resources for taxpayer assistance. There are numerous publications and tax topics best located through the Search function on the IRS site. Use it to find information related to living and working abroad, health, educational deductions and credits, armed forces, disabilities, and foreign language help.
- Internal Revenue Service. Free Tax Return Preparation For You by Volunteers
Certain low- to moderate-income people, as well as those in the military may qualify for free tax return preparation by IRS-trained volunteers through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA), Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program (TCE), and the Armed Forces Tax Council (AFTC). This help is available locally at public libraries, senior centers, community centers, shopping malls, schools, and other locations. For 2004 filings, individuals must have a gross income of $36,000 or lower, and be filing only basic kinds of tax forms. Many locations also offer free electronic filing. Call 800-829-1040 to find the nearest VITA/TCE/AFTC sites. The website also provides list of items to bring to the VITA/TCE/AFTC meeting.
- Internal Revenue Service. Tax Information for Individuals.
Below are selected government, commercial and organizational sources to help individual tax payers.
Tax Benefits for Education: Publication 970
- Includes a list of 529 plans by state.
IRS Publication 550, Chapter 4: Capital gains and losses
Social Security tax
Nolo estate planning
- American Institute of Certified Public Accountants
To review what to expect from a qualified accountant or tax preparer, go to the web site of the AICPA.
- Accountant's World.com: Taxation
Taxation news and tools for the accountant.
- Self Employment Tax
Find the difference between being self-employed and an independent contractor. The site also covers reporting requirements, and various publications covering the self-employment tax, deductions, retirement plans, and expanding to partnerships.
Small Business/Self Employed. Market Specialization Program
Tax information for Charities and Non-Profits
IRC 501c Tax code related to tax-exempt organization
Tax information for small business owners are contained in several publications and topical articles. The Market Specialization Program provides a series of articles of interest to small businesses. They cover deductions, employment tax requirements, tax credits, bankruptcy, and home-based businesses.
Internal Revenue Service. Publications 586 and 587, Home Based Businesses.
Internal Revenue Service. Publication 583, Tax Forms for Small Businesses.
Internal Revenue Service. Publication 535, Business Deductions.
Internal Revenue Service. Employment Taxes for Small Businesses.
Internal Revenue Service. Tax Credits.
Internal Revenue Service. Publication 908, Bankruptcy.
Foreign and International Taxation in Taxtopics.net
International Tax: Tax and Accounting Site Directory
Index services are electronic web services that index and provide access to the many reference tools needed by accountants, CPAs, researchers and students to do tax research. They contain access to tax laws and codes, authoritative interpretations of tax law and accounting rules and various other tools. The most common services are LexisNexis, WestLaw, Commerce Clearing House, Thomson RIA, and BNA (Bureau of National Affairs). Ebsco's Business Source Premier and Proquest's ABI/Inform Global are general databases that also contain tax journals and news sources.
BNA - Tax Management
CCH - Tax Research Network
CountryWatch (lists tax information within country reports)
EbscoHost Business Source Premier
ProQuest ABI/Inform Global
RIA – Checkpoint
For the librarian wishing to learn more, there are a number of additional web sites and articles.
- Lippincott Library Research Guides: Tax Websites. (2003) Retreived on May 20, 2004 from http://gethelp.library.upenn.edu/guides/business/taxesweb.html
University of Pennsylvania’s Lippincott Library provides a compact listing of essential tax websites.
- "Taxation." Journal of Business & Finance Librarianship vol. 8, no. 3 / 4 (2003): 281-290.
The author’s experience with tax questions resulted in an annotated list of taxation web sties grouped by comprehensive, e-commerce, government/legal, statistical, and multinational. Contains a short essay with an accompanying reference list for those desiring even further research.
- Lavin , Michael R. "Chapter 20: Taxation and Accounting." In Business Information: How to Find it How to Use it, 2nd ed., pp. 452-472. Phoenix: Oryx, 1992.
Lavin describes primary and then secondary sources for tax and accounting research, tax citators, the essential IRS publications and basic points needed to conduct tax research. While somewhat dated, Lavin’s approach is still essential reading to gain a basic competency in the sources and processes for tax research.
- Moss, Rita W. "Chapter 9: Accounting and Taxation." In Strauss's Handbook of Business Information: A Guide for Librarians, Students, and Researchers, 2nd ed., pp. 189-230. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited, 2004.
Moss covers tax basics by describing kinds of taxes and federal tax agencies. She highlights a few web portals, and recommends certain dictionaries, guides, directories, periodicals, newspapers and indexes, services, and statistical sources.
- White, Gary W., & Diane Zabel. "The Alert Taxpayer: Building a Taxation Collection." Reference & User Services Quarterly 40, no. 3 (2001): 214-223.
If the tax researcher is interested in terminology related to tax research refer to this dictionary and directory styled article. The article also includes an annotated list of general and topical guides, books, and selected IRS publications, planning, tax services, and web sites.
Last updated 02/09/08
Previously maintained by Lee Pike, University of Alabama
Originally compiled by Ann Fiegen, California State University, San Marcos
Sponsored by the BRASS Education Committee