of the Month: Legalbitstream
Susan B. Anders
FEBRUARY 2005 - Legalbitstream
is a free website that offers access to tax cases, IRS Revenue
Rulings and similar pronouncements, the Internal Revenue
Code, and Treasury Regulations. No registration or membership
is required, and the site is supported by extensive advertising.
The website is targeted at professional accountants and
attorneys, but should also be of interest to tax educators
is a useful tool for an occasional user, as a place to begin
research, for a tax professional who wants to check “one
more source,” and for students preparing assignments
under an instructor’s guidance or practicing searches
for the CPA exam. Although most would not find its content
sufficient as their sole research instrument, the website
performs admirably with the resources that it does offer.
clearly presents its main resources. The center of the homepage
contains hyperlinks to articles covering tax, U.S. national,
international business, and international sports news. The
top horizontal menu bar appears on all main pages and provides
links to information about the site, as well as a link back
to the homepage.
most important navigation tool is the left-side vertical
menu bar that appears on all main pages. The major resources
appear as hyperlinks under two categories, Tax Case Law
and IRS Materials. Legalbitstream provides a database to
search these features within the website. A third category,
Legislation Links, offers connections to resources on other
offers a database of federal income and estate tax–related
court cases covering 1990 to the present, for the U.S. Supreme
Court, the U.S. Circuit and District Courts, the U.S. Court
of Federal Claims, and others as well. The Tax Court summary
opinions are available from 2001 to the present. The Legalbitstream
database does not contain many unpublished opinions.
can search all court cases or select a specific court database.
The U.S. Circuit and District Court opinions can be searched
as a group or individually. The search process is a basic
keyword search, which can be narrowed by specifying a date
range. The search process worked well using both topic keywords
and the taxpayer’s name (i.e., the reference name
of the court case), as well as the standard case citation.
search results are presented as a list of hyperlinks, which
will appear familiar to users of Lexis-Nexis. The individual
documents are presented as subsidiary webpages. Menu bars
allow navigation among the search results, as well as a
return to the initial search or the homepage.
database of court cases is contained within the Legalbitstream
website. The text appears in html format. The documents
in Legalbitstream’s database include original tables,
images, and exhibits that are not always available from
website contains an exhaustive list of IRS materials from
1990 to the present, including Revenue Rulings, Revenue
Procedures, Announcements, Private Letter Rulings, and Actions
on Decisions. Users can also access Treasury Decisions,
Proposed Regulations, Delegation Orders, and Executive Orders
from mid-1995 to the present. Search functions are similar
to those discussed above.
provides links to other websites for access to the Internal
Revenue Code, Treasury Regulations, Public Laws, U.S. Income
Tax Treaties, and IRS Forms and Publications. Some of these
links need to be updated, as the web addresses have changed.
A good feature of Legalbitstream.com is that the external
links open in a separate window, so the user always remains
connected to the original website.
B. Anders, PhD, CPA, is an associate professor at
St. Bonaventure University, N.Y.