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Tax Research

Tax-Specific Legislative History

Legislative history refers to the process that a piece of proposed legislation goes through before it becomes law and consists of the documents created during that process. Legislative history research is often conducted to investigate why Congress passed a particular law or to assist scholars, lawyers, and judges in interpreting a law. Legislative history documents are not law but can be helpful in determining the purpose of tax statutes. The resources detailed in this guide are focused specifically on tax law.

For detailed instructions on conducting legislative-history research generally, see the following legislative history research guides:

HeinOnline -Taxation & Economic Reform in America Parts I & II, 1781-2010 (available on campus or remotely with ASURITE)
This HeinOnline database has the most comprehensive selection of tax legislative history materials.  The database includes the full text of dozens of tax books, economic reform books, tax legislative histories, economic reform legislative histories, and the Internal Revenue Acts from 1909 to 1950. All content is image-based in PDF format, and appears just as in the original print copy of the work.   

ProQuest Congressional (available on campus or remotely with ASURITE)
ProQuest Congressional is an online database that provides excellent access to all kinds of federal legislative materials.  It also offers finding aids and a bill tracking service.   

ProQuest Legislative Insight (available on campus or remotely with ASURITE)
ProQuest Legislative Insight is an online federal legislative history database that provides compilations of digital full-text publications created by Congress during the lawmaking process.  Documents available include the full text of public laws, all versions of related bills, law-specific Congressional Record excerpts, committee hearings, reports, and prints.  The database also includes presidential signing statements, CRS reports, and various congressional publications that provide background information to lawmaking issues.  

Westlaw (Westlaw password required)
Westlaw's Federal Tax Legislative History database contains selected Congressional committee reports on tax 1948–1989 as well as all reports and Presidential signing statements from 1990 to present.

General Explanation of Tax Legislation Enacted in ... (CCH)
General Explanation of Tax Legislation Enacted in. . . (commonly known as Blue Books) are prepared by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation in consultation with the staffs of the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance.  The Blue Books offer explanations on all tax legislation passed by a particular Congress; explanations include the legislative history of each act, a provision-by-provision description of the prior law and new law, the effective date of each law change, and for many laws the reasons for the statutory change.  Select Blue Books are available on the Joint Committee on Taxation website. This resource is also available on Westlaw (Westlaw password required).

Internal Revenue Acts of the United States, 1909–1950: Legislative Histories and Administrative Documents Guide and Analytical Index (Bernard D. Reams et al., William S. Hein & Co. 1979)
This text contains a chronological history to each Internal Revenue Act passed between 1909 and 1950, including references to the location of the bill in its various forms, slip laws, committee reports, committee hearings, and treasury regulations.

Seidman's Legislative History of Federal Income Tax Laws, 1938–1861 (Jacob S. Seidman, Prentice-Hall 1938)
Seidman’s text includes everything of interpretative significance said to or by Congress and passed or rejected by it, from 1861 (the beginning of income tax legislation) to 1938.  Material is arranged by act, with the most recent act first.  Information included for each act includes language changes, committee reports, floor discussions, and committee hearings. This title is also available on HeinOnline (available on campus or remotely with ASURITE).

Seidman's Legislative History of Federal Income Tax Laws, 1953-1939 (Jacob S. Seidman, Prentice-Hall 1954)
This two-volume text written by Jacob Seidman provides legislative history for tax laws passed between 1939 and 1953. The title is also available on HeinOnline (available on campus ore remotely with ASURITE).