Computer Assisted Tax Research

Article excerpt

Computer Assisted Tax Research

One tax specialist recently characterized the process of tax research as a basic communication puzzle. The enigma for the tax researcher is trying to discern what was meant from what was said. The "what was said" is embodied in a wide variety of tax statutes, rules and regulations. The "what was meant" is given form and substance in the wide body of materials that interpret the code and regulations. Some of these materials include tax court decisions, memorandum decisions, district and appellate court decisions, revenue rulings, revenue procedures, general counsel memoranda, private letter rulings, technical advice memoranda and similar materials. There is also a bewildering complex of useful commentary: e.g., journal articles and treatises.

One of the largest problems for tax researchers is how to sift through the massive mountain of tax information in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible. It is also extremely important for tax researchers to keep abreast of constantly changing tax laws and regulations.

Using computers to manage tax information has given tax researchers some extremely powerful new tools. The ability to perform complex searches through a wide variety of laws, regulations, and other kinds of materials is available today in a way that has never before been possible. Computers enable researchers to both search and access, as well as keep abreast of new laws, and the interpretation of those laws in a relatively new, efficient and powerful way.

Today there are several computer assisted research services that offer varying degrees of access to varying amounts of tax information. Two major services are entirely devoted to providing online computer assisted access to tax information: CCH ACCESS, and PHINet. Other general CALR (Computer Assisted Legal Research) services which also offer access to tax information include Lexis, Westlaw, and Dialog.

CCH Access Commerce Clearing House, Inc. (CCH) 4025 W. Peterson Ave. Chicago, IL 60646 800-835-0105

CCH Access is the name given to both the service that provides subscribers online access to CCH's wide variety of state and federal tax law publications, and the PC-based telecommunications package that provides sophisticated access to that online service.

Generally speaking, everything available on CCH Access can also be subscribed to in print form. For example, CCH's Standard Federal Tax Reporter is available in print form. The full text of the Standard Federal Tax Reporter is also available in online form on CCH Access.

CCH Access is comprised of five basic libraries: user services, a news library, federal taxes, federal tax archives 1986-1990, federal tax archives 1978-1985, and state taxes.

The user services library contains basic information about CCH Access. For example, the user services library indicates the frequency of publication updates, provides access to a CCH Access user guide, and a new features section which discusses such things as recent online enhancements, the expansion of telephone support hours, and similar information. The news library provides subscribers access to the Federal Tax Day, State Tax Day, U.S. Supreme Court decisions and the topical index to the U.S. Supreme Court decisions, the Revenue Reconciliation Act of 1990, and various other laws and explanations. The federal taxes library provides access to The Standard Federal Tax Reporter, The Federal Estate and Gift Tax Reporter, The Federal Excise Tax Reporter, the current Internal Revenue Code, U.S. Tax Court cases, regulars, and memoranda, Board of Tax Court regulars and memoranda, letter rulings, General Counsel memorandum, Actions on Decisions, legislative documents and treaties, selected IRS publications, IRS form instructions, advance release documents, and rulings and other documents. The federal tax archives, 1986-1990 library contains The Standard Federal Tax Reporter, The Federal Tax Reporter, 1989 IRS form instructions, and the Reconciliation Act of 1989. …