Tax Research and Writing

 Carla Neeley Freitag


Pick up some tips for writing about the tax laws and share your ideas with others.

Writing About the Tax Laws


     by Carla Neeley Freitag


Many considerations applicable to legal research and writing in general also apply to researching and writing about the tax laws. Like other legal areas of specialization, however, tax law has research and writing considerations that are unique to the tax field. Tax research, analysis, and writing go hand in hand. Tax research and analysis is almost always presented in written form; tax writing is almost always supported by tax research and analysis. In theory, in chronological order, tax research is conducted first, then the research is analyzed in light of any applicable facts, and finally the results are memorialized. This blog, however, will focus more on the analysis and writing aspects than on the research aspect.


There are books and internet resources that explain and illustrate the process of researching the tax laws. Those studying for their LL.M. degrees in Taxation take an entire course in tax research. Moreover, there are tax packages on research services, such as Lexis Nexis and Westlaw, that facilitate tax research. Thus, there are numerous opportunities for identifying the applicable statutory, judicial, and IRS authorities in which the tax law is found.


In contrast to the ample resources for conducting tax research, guidance for analyzing and writing about the tax laws is relatively scarce. The fact is, however, that the most excellent and thorough research may not be fully effective if it is not analyzed and communicated skillfully. Good writers can usually take any material and make it understandable. But many individuals who excel at tax law are not natural writers. All writers may find that the tax law presents even more challenges for writers than the law of other specialized legal fields.


As the author of several Tax Management Portfolios and other tax-related resources, I have given much thought to presenting the tax law in a thorough and understandable manner. I routinely debate over how to organize a particular subject, how detailed a discussion should be, how to format information for print or internet, whether to use code section references, what to include, what to omit, what to put in a footnote or endnote, and on and on. I hope to share some of the expertise I have acquired along the way with the readers of this blog. Equally importantly, I hope others will share their tips, techniques, and strategies by commenting or writing guest posts.

How Writing About the Tax Laws is Unique

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