Research guides

Federal Taxation

Letters & Rulings

Determination Letters, Exemption Rulings, Information Letters, Private Letter Rulings, and Revenue Rulings are written by the IRS as responses to taxpayer questions. The type of letter or ruling delivered depends on the question asked. More information on each type of letter and ruling is available below.

Determination Letters are similar to Private Letter Rulings but are written by a field office instead of by the National Office. They answer questions from individual taxpayers regarding tax matters. The answer to the query is covered by the Internal Revenue Code, tax treaties, or caselaw, regulations, and revenue rulings published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin. Determination Letters are not published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin.

Exemption Rulings are issued by the IRS's Exempt Organizations Technical Division. They recognize tax exemption under the Internal Revenue Code. Exemption Rulings are not published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin.

Information Letters are written by the IRS National Office in response to requests for general information from taxpayers. They provide general statements of well-defined law without applying them to a specific set of facts. Information Letters are not published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin.

Private Letter Rulings (PLR) are statements written by the National Office in response to a specific taxpayer's request for a ruling. They give an opinion on the tax consequences of a specific course of conduct prior to filing a tax return. They are issued only in response to a taxpayer's request for a ruling (the IRS does not initiate PLRs). PLRs might also be referred to as Letter Rulings. PLRs are not published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin.

Revenue Rulings are written by the IRS to interpret the tax laws as applied to hypothetical or simplified situations. Revenue Rulings are published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin. For where to find the Internal Revenue Bulletin, see the Internal Revenue Bulletin page of this guide.

Online

IRS Written Determinations Internal Revenue Service
Coverage from 1999 - present.

Internal Revenue Service
Select Revenue Rulings are located throughout the IRS website. To search the IRS website for revenue rulings, use Google's Advance Search and type revenue ruling in the "this exact word or phrase" field and irs.gov in the "site or domain" field. To narrow the search, add other search terms.

Information Letters Internal Revenue Service
Coverage from 2000 - present.

Onsite Lexis

IRS Private Letter Rulings
Available on the library's Lexis computers. From the From the Practice Area or Industry tab, select Tax Law > All Tax Law Administrative Materials > IRS Private Letter Rulings and Technical Advice Memoranda. Coverage from 1954 - present.

IRS Revenue Rulings
Available on the library's Lexis computers. From the Practice Area or Industry tab, select Tax Law > All Tax Law Administrative Materials > IRS Cumulative Bulletin and Internal Revenue Bulletin. Includes IRS Revenue Rulings from January 1954 - present.

Onsite Westlaw

IRS Exemption Rulings
Available on the library's Westlaw computers. From the All Content tab, select Administrative Decisions & Guidance > Internal Revenue Service IRS (listed under All Federal Administrative Decisions & Guidance) > Exemption Rulings. Coverage from 1994 - 2015. This content is no longer being updated on Westlaw.

IRS Information Letters
Available on the library's Westlaw computers. From the All Content tab, select Administrative Decisions & Guidance > Internal Revenue Service IRS (listed under All Federal Administrative Decisions & Guidance) > Information Letters. Coverage from 2000 - present.

IRS Private Letter Rulings
Available on the library's Westlaw computers. From the All Content tab, select Administrative Decisions & Guidance > Internal Revenue Service IRS (listed under All Federal Administrative Decisions & Guidance) > Private Letter Rulings. Coverage from 1950 - present (select from 1950-1976).

IRS Revenue Rulings
Available on the library's Westlaw computers. From the All Content tab, select Administrative Decisions & Guidance > Internal Revenue Service IRS (listed under All Federal Administrative Decisions & Guidance) > Revenue Rulings. Coverage from 1953- present.

Print

IRS Letter Rulings CCH
Library has 1977-1993, 2004-2009. Index coverage, 1977-1999. Indexed by Subject and Code Section. See Transfer Binders. For rulings from 1977-1993, see Microforms.

Standard Federal Tax Reporter CCH
Library has 1986 - present. Current year in General Collection; previous years in Historic. See Finding Lists, Letter Rulings, Revenue Rulings.