Research guides

Federal Taxation

Caselaw

As explained in the Tax Management Portfolio Legal Authorities in U.S. Federal Tax Matters: Research and Interpretation, cases dealing with taxation can originate and culminate in a number of federal courts:

Appellate Level:

U.S. Supreme Court

        • The U.S. Supreme Court is the highest court in the United States and it is the final say on whether legislative or executive actions are consistent with the Constitution.

U.S. Courts of Appeals

        • The U.S. Courts of Appeals are the federal intermediate appellate courts. They hear cases on appeal from the district courts within their circuits as well as appeals from the U.S. Tax Court.

Trial Level:

U.S. District Courts

        • The U.S. District Courts are the federal trial courts. Tax cases starting in the district courts typically arise from claims for refund that the IRS has denied. In tax refund cases, the U.S. District Courts hold concurrent jurisdiction with the U.S. Court of Federal Claims.

U.S. Court of Federal Claims

        • Tax cases in the Court of Federal Claims typically arise from claims for refund that the IRS has denied. In tax refund cases, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims holds concurrent jurisdiction with the U.S. District Courts.

U.S. Bankruptcy Courts

        • The U.S. Bankruptcy Courts typically hear tax cases when the taxpayer is the subject of a bankruptcy proceeding.

U.S. Tax Court

        • The U.S. Tax Court is a specialty court that hears only tax cases.

Administrative Board:

Board of Tax Appeals

        • The Board of Tax Appeals was an administrative board, not a court. It originated in the Revenue Act of 1924. In 1942 it was renamed the Tax Court of the United States. It ceased to exist in 1969 and was replaced with the U.S. Tax Court.

The sections below highlight a select number of sources that reprint tax related decisions.

For more information regarding the different courts that handle tax cases, see the Tax Management Portfolio Legal Authorities in U.S. Federal Tax Matters: Research and Interpretation, section IV: The Judiciary.

For general information on how to find cases in the federal judiciary, see our Federal Caselaw guide.

Online

Tax Court Opinions U.S. Tax Court
Coverage includes TC and Memorandum Decisions from September 25, 1995 - present, TC Opinions in published format from January 11, 2010 - present, and Summary Opinions from January 10, 2001 - present.

Research Tip

Other free resources, like Legalbitstream.com, also reprint select U.S. federal court opinions that discuss issues involving federal income and estate taxes.

Member Databases

Reports of the United States Board of Tax Appeals
Available on HeinOnline. Vol. 1 (1924) - vol. 47 (1942). Once in HeinOnline, select U.S. Federal Agency Documents, Decisions, and Appeals > All Titles > R > Reports of the United States Board of Tax Appeals

Reports of the United States Board of Tax Appeals
Available on LLMC Digital. Vol. 1 (1924) - vol. 47 (1942). Once in LLMC Digital, select U.S. Federal Government > Judicial > U.S. Judicial (lower cts., alpha order) > Tax Appeals, Board of Rpts., 1924-42, 47v

Reports of the United States Tax Court
Available on HeinOnline. Coverage begins with vol. 1 (1942). Once in HeinOnline, select U.S. Federal Agency Documents, Decisions, and Appeals > All Titles > R > Reports of the United States Tax Court

Reports of the United States Tax Court
Available on LLMC Digital. Coverage begins with vol. 1 (1942). Once in LLMC Digital, select U.S. Federal Government > Judicial > U.S. Judicial (lower cts., alpha order) > Tax Court Reports, v.1-1942-

Onsite Lexis & Westlaw

Tax Cases
Available on the library's Lexis computers. From the Practice Area or Industry tab, select Tax Law > All Tax Law Cases. Includes "All available cases from any Federal or state court pertaining to tax law". Coverage varies by court. The larger All Federal Cases file may include additional cases.

Tax Cases
Available on the library's Westlaw computers. From the Practice Areas tab, select Tax > Cases (located in the Browse Tax box on the right). Includes federal tax cases from the U.S. Supreme Court, courts of appeals, district courts, bankruptcy courts, Court of Federal Claims, Tax Court, and related federal courts that relate to taxation by federal, state, or local governments. Combines documents from Supreme Court Tax Cases (coverage begins with 1790), Courts of Appeals Tax Cases (coverage begins with 1891), District Courts Tax Cases (coverage begins with 1789), Court of Federal Claims Tax Cases (coverage begins with 1856), and Tax Court Cases (Tax Court Division Opinions (T.C.) begins with 1924, Tax Court Memorandum Opinions (T.C. Memo) begins with 1928), and Tax Court Summary Opinions (T.C. Summary) begins with 2001). To search by court, see the "Tools & Resources" box on the right.

Print

Standard Federal Tax Reporter CCH
Library has 1951 - present. Current year in General Collection; older years in Historic. Includes select tax decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, Courts of Appeals, District Courts, Court of Federal Claims, and Bankruptcy Courts. Contains current year's cases only. For previous years, see the bound U.S. Tax Cases.

U.S. Tax Cases CCH
Library has 1913 - present. Includes select tax decisions from the U.S. Supreme Court, Courts of Appeals, District Courts, Court of Federal Claims, and Bankruptcy Courts. Includes cases originally reported in the Standard Federal Tax Reporter, the Federal Estate and Gift Tax Reporter, and the Federal Excise Tax Reporter.

Research Tip

For decisions from the U.S. Tax Court, see the electronic databases listed above. Jenkins also has select years from various Tax Court reporters available in print. Jenkins has other tax reporters, some of which include cases going back to the late 1800s. Contact Research Services at 215.574.1505 or research@jenkinslaw.org for more information.