Finding the Most Efficient Tax Research Can Provide Solutions to Tax Challenges

by Brock Scott, NovaTax | December 6, 2023

The importance of effective tax research cannot be understated. In today’s ever-changing regulatory environment, staying abreast of tax news and analysis is vital for making informed decisions, planning strategic solutions to tax challenges and ensuring compliance in a complex tax landscape.

Specifically, CPAs use tax research to identify the tax implications of particular positions, aid their companies and clients in making informed decisions about tax strategies, planning and compliance, and to prepare for potential IRS audits.

Research Choices

Whether one uses a variety of sources for research or relies on staff to collect their own data, busy CPAs should understand that tax research sources are categorized as primary (statutes, regulations and case laws) and secondary (law review articles and others providing additional analysis). Other considerations include the following:

  • Finding relevant binding and persuasive authorities. This includes legislative, administrative and judicial sources. Binding authorities are mandatory for courts to follow, while persuasive authorities are optional.
  • Relying on comprehensive resources. These platforms consolidate essential information in one place to make it easy to search for documents.
  • Embracing AI-driven tax research software. This can enhance efficiency and accuracy. In a competitive environment with rising client demands, firms that do not leverage technology risk losing talent to competitors.

The Tax Research Process

An organized approach to tax research is crucial to ensure the necessary due diligence is performed in the quest for accurate tax positions. The process can be broken down into both simple and comprehensive steps:

  1. Define the situation: To initiate tax research, the first step is to clearly identify and define the pertinent facts and issues relevant to the tax situation, including a thorough understanding of the client’s unique circumstances within their financial, legal and operational context.
  2. Gather applicable authorities: Tax experts need to identify and collect the applicable tax laws for the client’s situation, starting with the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) as the primary statutory source. This process extends to encompass administrative regulations and rulings, as well as judicial decisions from various courts.
  3. Evaluate the research: Following the collection of relevant authorities, a comprehensive analysis is essential. This entails a detailed examination of legal provisions and an understanding of their implications in the specific context of the client.
  4. Formulate conclusions and recommendations: Based on the analysis, tax professionals must draw well-founded conclusions and make recommendations regarding the client’s tax position.
  5. Share research findings: Effectively communicating the results of the tax research is crucial. This may involve creating detailed reports or delivering presentations to stakeholders, clients or other pertinent parties.

Effective tax research is not only advantageous but crucial in the intricate world of taxation. With the ever-expanding Internal Revenue Code and associated complexities, reliance on memorization is impractical. The primary purpose of tax research is to define the tax effect of specific tax positions, enabling informed decisions, strategic tax planning and compliance. A structured approach ensures that necessary due diligence is conducted in the research process.

Both seasoned professionals and novices benefit from expert guidance and reliable sources to bridge the knowledge gap for taxation issues. In the complex landscape of taxation, the ability to conduct effective tax research is not just advantageous; it is crucial for success.

Brock  Scott

Brock Scott

Brock Scott is the chief marketing officer at NovaTax, a state and federal tax news and analytical platform.

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