Skip to main content

Federal Tax Research Sources : Case Law

This guide lists UW Law Library resources useful in substantive federal tax research.

U.S. Tax Court -- Regular Decisions

The U.S. Tax Court, a federal trial court, hears disputes between the IRS and the taxpayer. Until the case is decided,  the disputed amount does not have to be paid.  These cases deal with substantive tax issues, usually involving a new or unusual point of law.

U.S. Tax Court -- Memo Decisions

The U.S. Tax Court issues Memorandum decisions, as opposed to regular decisions, when the decisions repeat prior rulings or applications of existing law. These cases focus on factual disputes between the taxpayer and the IRS.  There is no "official" reporter for these decisions.

U.S. Tax Court -- Summary Decisions

These decisions of the Small Case Division involve disputes less than $10,000 and are not considered to have precedent.

Other Federal Courts

The federal court system also holds jurisdiction over general taxation matters; however, unlike the U.S. Tax Court, the taxpayer must first satisfy the amount being disputed with the IRS before a case can be filed.  The main benefit of using this venue is the taxpayer's right to a jury trial. Regardless of the court of origin, tax cases can be appealed to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and eventually the U.S. Supreme Court.

Official Reporters (include cases from the U.S. District Courts, the U.S. Court of Claims, U.S. Court of Appeals and the U.S, Supreme Court):

Federal Supplement / 5 East / stacks 37-56

Federal Reporter / 5 East / stacks 21-36

United States Reports /5 East / stacks 8 - 12


U.S. Court of Federal Claims

This Court hears tax cases regarding money related petitions involving the U.S. Government which do not typcially involve taxpayers.