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Federal Income Taxation: A Guide for Geeks and Non-Geeks: Home

Last Updated: Apr 22, 2022 1:53 PM

CALI Lessons

CALI lessons allow you to work through issues in federal income taxation in an interactive format in which you answer questions and explain your reasoning.  If you are confused or have questions about an issue, a CALI lesson may provide a quick way to test and improve your knowledge.

Some Good Study Aids for Fed Tax

As in your other classes, the first rule you should follow in Fed Tax is to carefully read the casebook and relevant statutes and regulations several times.  While your assigned readings and class discussions should be your primary concerns, treatises, hornbooks, and texts provide additional perspectives, analyses, and explanations to help you make sense of tax law.  

Douglas A. Kahn and Jeffrey H. Kahn, Federal Income Tax, 5th ed. (Foundation Press, 2005). This hornbook provides thorough, clear discussions of just about any issue you will cover in Tax 1 or Tax 2.  It is a great resource. There is a copy on Law Library Reserve. Call number: KF8840 .F72 2005

Kahn and Kahn Hornbook






Joseph Bankman, Thomas D. Griffith, and Katherine Pratt, Federal Income Tax: Examples and Explanations, 5th ed. (Aspen Publishers, 2008). This book includes clear explanations of the key tax provisions you will cover in Fed Tax 1 and 2 as well as excellent examples to illustrate the application of tax law. You can find this book in the Law Library's collection of study aids, which is located on the bookcase on your right as you enter the library. Call number: KF6369.85 .B35 2008  

Fed Tax: Examples and Explanations







Marvin Chirelstein, Federal Income Taxation, 11th ed. (Foundation Press, 2009).  This is a classic text that provides clear analysis of key concepts in federal income taxation. You can find this book in the Law Library's collection of study aids, which is located on the bookcase on your right as you enter the library.  Call number: KF6369 .C43 2009  







Boris I. Bittker and Lawrence Lokken, Federal Taxation of Income, Estates, and Gifts. If you want to read a detailed, clear discussion of a tax concept or a clear, thorough analysis of the historical evolution of a particular section, this treatise is a great resource. It is available on Westlaw, which requires a user ID and password.  To access this treatise, click on "Topical Materials by Area of Practice" in the Directory, then click on "Taxation."  In "Taxation," click to get the complete list of "Law Journals, Reviews & Treatises" then click for the complete list of "Warren Gorham & Lamont Tax Treatises." You will find Bittker and Lokken's treatise on this list.  

Besides these commercially published resources, keep in mind that the IRS is charged with the thankless and very difficult job of translating the Internal Revenue Code into language that is plain enough to allow regular human beings to prepare their own taxes.  To this end the IRS prepares publications on a wide range of topics.  These publications offer explanations of most of the concepts and doctrines covered in Tax 1 or Tax 2.  A few IRS publications are listed below:

Your Federal Income Tax (Publication 17) This lengthy (295 pages) publication covers all of the basic features and issues under the individual income tax.  

For discussion that targets specific issues, see 

Basis of Assets (Publication 551)

Business Expenses (Publication 535)

Divorced or Separated Individuals (Publication 504)

How To Depreciate Property (Publication 946)

Sales and Other Dispositions of Assets (Publication 544)

Selling Your Home (Publication 523)

Tax Information for Homeowners (Publication 530)

Travel, Entertainment, Gift, and Car Expenses (Publication 463)

These and other IRS publications may be downloaded at

Forms and Schedules

Besides the difficult job of explaining the Internal Revenue Code, the IRS has to translate the Code into forms and schedules that make it theoretically possible for taxpayers to calculate their own tax liability. (I say "theoretically" because the great majority of individual tax filers rely on a tax preparer, an IRS assistance program, or a software program to prepare their taxes.) As you work your way through the Code, look over the forms below and think about what steps personnel at the IRS or a software company must take to translate the Code into a form, schedule, or computer program. 

Form 1040 - U.S. Individual Income Tax Return 2010

Form 1040 - Schedule A - Itemized Deductions

Form 1040 - Schedule C - Profit or Loss from Business

Form 1040 - Schedule D - Capital Gains and Losses

These forms and many, many more as well as instructions for various forms may be downloaded at

Important Publications on Tax Policy

For a long time just about everyone has agreed that the federal income tax is broken.  Reform is hard, however, because there is not all that much agreement about what steps Congress ought to take to fix it.  Here are links to reports by the Treasury Department or presidential commissions that offer proposals for reform of the federal income tax.