Understanding Citations of Treasury Regulations

Understanding how to cite Treasury Regulations is crucial to being able to find the regulations relevant to a tax case.  This is why I devote this brief essay to explaining the location and basics of citation of Treasury Regulations.

Treasury Regulations are located in Title 26 of the Code of Federal Regulations (“C.F.R.”).  This corresponds to title 26 of the United States Code.

The overall form of citation is as follows: C.F.R. part number, a decimal point, a Code section number, a dash, and a number of further subdivisions.  The “C.F.R. part number” basically indicates the general nature of the regulations – i.e. to what area is the regulation related.  The numbers are assigned to areas in the following way: “1″ relates to income tax, “20″ relates to estate tax, “25″ relates to gift tax; “31″ relates to employment tax (withholding), “301″ relates to administration and procedure, and “601″ relates to the Commissioner’s rules.

Let’s look at a specific example and try to decipher what it says at according to the general form described above: Treas. Reg. § 1.162-1.  “Treas. Reg.” is a common form of abbreviation of “Treasury Regulations”; “1″ is a C.F.R. part number which tells the reader that this regulation relates to the income tax;  “162″ is a Code section number which specifically discusses the deduction of business expenses; “ dash 1″ indicates a citation to the first subdivision of the regulation.  In sum, Treas. Reg. § 1.162-1 refers directly to a first subdivision of the regulation with respect to business expense deduction from income tax.

The ability to quickly read, understand, and find a relevant treasury regulation is just one of the many skills that an experienced tax attorney needs to have.