When the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) needs help with tax law, it turns to Cornell Law School's Legal Information Institute (LII).
Everyone has to pay income tax, as described by Title 26 of the U.S. Code, the section of the U.S. Code that governs tax law. And Title 26 has been available on the LII Web site for more than ten years.
Now, with help from the LII, the IRS Tax Products CD/DVD package (Tax Products) just added Title 26 to its offerings. The Tax Products, a tax preparer's main resource for all things taxable, is a package that, in addition to the LII information, also includes tax publications and forms, research tools, and answers to frequently asked questions.
Paul Showalter, the IRS staffer who produces the Tax Products, called LII Director Thomas R. Bruce on February 7, asking permission to use the LII material. With the nimbleness that makes the Web different from print, the LII closed the deal and transmitted their version of Title 26 to Showalter the same day.
"I decided to use the LII Tax Code primarily because it was the site that www.IRS.gov refers people to," Showalter says.
The Government Printing Office (GPO) also makes the U.S. Code available online-but it's slow and hard to read. The LII version is not only more readable; it also provides a table of recent updates to the law, a link to the GPO site, and the opportunity to easily download or print the material.
The IRS produces 26,000 of its Tax Product CD/DVD package which is sent, free of charge, to thousands of tax preparers and other interested parties. They go to each member of Congress; to free tax clinics such as those run by the AARP; to members of the IRS Corporate Partnership (companies who make tax information freely available on company intranets); to libraries; and to IRS employees and IRS walk-in offices.
"We work in a disconnected environment, and employees like easy access to products," Showalter explains. "The Tax Products package is a great off-line research tool, and that's why it was created."
An earlier version of the IRS Tax Products shipped in December. At the end of February, the IRS will ship their final release, this time incorporating the LII's contribution.