Performing tax research to find correct answers to a given tax

| June 2, 2016

Question
Performing tax research to find correct answers to a given tax situation and composing memoranda summarizing these findings are important parts of tax practice. As outlined in Chapter 2 of your text, there are a number of authoritative primary tax law sources. The first, the Internal Revenue Code, is the law enacted by Congress. The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service publish a number of materials that interpret and provide decisions, pronouncing their interpretation and application of the Code, including treasury regulations, revenue rulings, and revenue procedures. Finally, courts are often asked to hear tax disputes between taxpayers and the United States, and these courts issue rulings that interpret and apply the tax law, creating additional tax authority in the process. These combined writings constitute primary tax law authority, and these are the authorities that tax practitioners rely upon when a client asks for their opinions regarding how a proposed or a completed transaction should be treated for tax purposes.

In this project, you will be presented with two such transactions and asked to answer one or more tax questions related to these transactions. You will be provided with selected primary authorities—such as the applicable Code sections and court opinions—that are relevant to these transactions and questions. Accordingly, you will need to read and analyze these authorities, apply their holdings to the facts you are given, and conclude how the transaction you are given should be treated for tax purposes. You will then document all of these findings and conclusions in a tax file memorandum, as explained and outlined in Chapter 2 of your text. Each of these two memoranda is worth 30 points for a combined total of 60 points.

In addition to these two transactions, you will be presented with a third research project that will introduce a particular tax concept or current issue of tax law and ask you to perform some research and analysis related to that concept or issue. To complete the project, you will be required to perform Internet research to find materials relevant to these concepts or issues, as well as complete a written analysis and explanation of these materials and findings that answers one or more questions posed by the problem. This portion of the Week 3 Project is worth 20 points.

Guidelines

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You can find all of the information for the different scenarios in Doc Sharing. The beginning of the assignment contains an extensive explanation of the project, as well as guidelines that must be followed in completing the project. You are responsible for knowing and following these guidelines. Some of the more significant guidelines include the following.

Submit a separate document for each of the three portions of the assignment.
Your submissions must be in Microsoft Word.
You must use a reasonably easy-to-read font, such as Times New Roman or Arial, in at least 12-point font size. Each page must have at least a one-inch margin on all sides and be double-spaced.
Appropriate citations are required.
The tax memoranda must be in traditional tax memorandum format, as outlined in Chapter 2 of your text. The research essay should be in traditional essay format, including a cover page and citation page.
All DeVry University policies are in effect, including the plagiarism policy.
Papers are due at the end of Week 3 of the course.
General questions about this paper may be discussed in the weekly Q & A discussion topic. If they are specific or substantive in nature, such as questions concerning the analysis of one or more of the materials provided, please e-mail such questions to your instructor.
This project is worth 80 points. You will be graded on the overall quality of your submission, including the quality of your analysis and the professionalism of your submission. Details concerning the grading criteria follow.
s with any assignment, there are certain best practices that you can follow to ensure success. Tax research memoranda use a fairly standard format and structure that is different from your typical essay assignment. The four parts include the following.

Facts: In this section, you summarize the facts about the transaction or events that are relevant and material to the tax questions being asked. Frame them as precisely and succinctly as possible, and write them so that they can be understood by someone who has no knowledge of the underlying facts.
Question Presented or Issue: This is a succinct (usually one sentence) question that you are trying to answer or resolve in the memorandum.
Short Answer: This is a succinct (usually one or two sentence) answer to the question presented.
Analysis: True to its title, this section contains all of the substantive analysis that you needed to perform to come to the short answer to the question presented. It discusses, in logical order, the various tax authorities to establish the tax rule or rules that apply to the fact pattern given. This includes such efforts as an analysis of the facts of these other cases and the language of the applicable Code section(s) at issue. Once the rules are established, it then applies those rules to the facts in the case in order to reach the conclusion that is summarized in the short answer.
As you write this memorandum, keep in mind that it should be self-contained and self-explanatory. Someone who does not have any outside understanding of the events or circumstances or of the tax law should be able to pick up your memorandum, read it, and understand the facts of the case, your conclusion, and how you reached your conclusion, including the authorities upon which you relied to reach that conclusion. If, in your assessment, a third party could not do that, then your memorandum does not contain all the required information.

The Research Essay should be completed using a conventional essay format. A thorough submission should consider including all of the following elements.

Cover Page: Include who you prepared the paper for, who prepared it, and the date.
Table of Contents: List the main ideas and section of your paper and the pages in which they are located. The illustrations should be included separately.
Introduction: Use a header on your paper. This will indicate that you are introducing your paper. As you know, the purpose of an introduction is threefold:
to introduce the subject and why the subject is important;
to preview the main ideas and the order in which they will be covered; and
to establish a tone of the document.

Include in the introduction a reason for the audience to read the paper. Also, include an overview of what you are going to cover in your paper and the importance of the material. (This should include or introduce the questions you are asked to answer on each assignment.)
Body of Your Report: Use a header titled with the name of your project. Example: “The Development of Hotel X—A World Class Resort.” Then proceed to break out the main ideas. State the main ideas, state major points in each idea, and provide evidence. Break out each main idea you will use in the body of your paper. Show some type of division like separate sections that are labeled, separate groups of paragraphs, or headers. Include the information you found during your research and investigation.
Summary and Conclusion: Summarizing is similar to paraphrasing but presents the gist of the material in fewer words than the original. An effective summary identifies the main ideas and major support points from the body of your report. Minor details are left out. Summarize the benefits of the ideas and how they affect the subject.
Works Cited: Use the citation format as specified in the Syllabus.
Keep in mind that the best writers don’t generally write accidentally—they plan. First, outline the points that you need to make in your paper or analysis. Next, prepare a draft based on that outline in which you flesh out your points and provide effective transitions between the points or sections of your outline. Finally, edit, edit, and edit some more until you have a tightly-written, precise, and effective final product.

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