After you select a topic, please let me know what it is before proceeding with Paper.
Picking a topic: The topic must involve federal tax law. It can be a topic involving income taxes or gift or estate taxes. It must be a topic that is currently relevant – a topic that is primarily of historical significance is not appropriate. If, for example, your topic involves a particular code provision, be certain the provision has not been substantially revised – are the authorities pursuant to the current language? The topic must have AT LEAST 25 major (significant) cases or rulings. Major (significant) means that the case or ruling adds something to the body of law on the topic. A minor case or ruling is one that largely or entirely duplicates the facts and law of another case or ruling. You should carefully note that this is how major (significant) and minor are defined for purposes of this project – these definitions may differ from more common use of the terms – in particular, these definitions have a much lower threshold for what is considered major (significant). I think one may naturally ask, why should there be a case if there is not something different about the case from prior cases – why bring the case? There may be an explanation (e.g., the case was brought for issues primarily not related to your topic and the party threw in your issue because there was little to lose in doing so), but generally a new case adds something to the topic. Also, for example, a PLR may or may not be major – some PLRs are sought even though the issues are relatively well settled (e.g., so-called comfort rulings). While your topic can involve code or regulation analysis (and must include coverage of relevant code or regulation provisions), it generally should be a topic that is primarily driven by cases and rulings.
You can use the Checkpoint legal database to conduct your research (or any other legal database to which you have access). The URL is www.checkpoint.riag.com the username is pac88-4 and the password is also pac88-4.
EVERY MAJOR (SIGNIFICANT) CASE OR RULING must be discussed in the text of the paper, regardless of the number. When I read your paper I should be able to read an analysis of EVERY authority which, because of different facts, analysis, rationale or conclusion, adds something non-trivial to the topic. Also, you should be careful if you are thinking of picking a topic driven primarily by something other than cases and/or rulings (e.g, regulations or treaties). We would tend to carefully analyze whether the paper satisfies the 25 major case/ruling requirement. These requirements are crucial to the paper – it would be extremely difficult to achieve a good grade if you run too far afoul of these requirements.
The paper must at a minimum have:
b. analysis – this is where you discuss in an organized fashion everything important to know about the chosen topic, including a discussion of every major case or ruling. In writing your analysis of cases, it is best to not refer to “petitioner” or “respondent” but instead indicate the taxpayer or the government or IRS, as appropriate. Every case should take about a page and a half or more.
c. conclusion (note, the conclusion should be labeled as such)
d. footnotes – we expect you to use footnotes. At a minimum the footnotes should contain citation, in proper bluebook citation form (The Blue Book: A Uniform System of Citation, latest edition – presumably the 20th, ISBN 0578666154), of all authorities used for the proposition given in the text. More about attribution later. You may also provide citation pages where you indicate each authority and the page where it is cited.
For bibliography – you must list every case, ruling, code section, regulation, article, treatise, reporter, newspaper, blog, website or any other published information which is relevant to the chosen topic. Note that this includes all authorities, not just major cases or rulings. As part of our grading process, we will research the completeness of your paper and your bibliography. We want to feel confident that you have been able to find and have read everything that exists on the chosen topic. If we find relevant authorities that you don’t, that will count against you. The listing in the bibliography must be in an ordered fashion. Cases should be listed in alphabetical order (note that for cases involving individuals or estates, alphabetical order is based on the family name), rulings should first be separated by type (e.g., one list of revenue rulings, a second list of revenue procedures, a third list of private letter rulings) and then within each of those lists, the rulings should be in chronological order. You must highlight which of the authorities listed in the bibliography have been discussed in the body of the paper.
In writing your paper (including your footnotes and bibliography) you should use proper citation form according to the bluebook. This includes, for example, all subsequent history of an authority (e.g., for a case, include the citation to any appeal). You may also provide parallel citations that are not the official citations, but you must include the proper citation.
The paper should be double spaced. The font would be 12 point, with approximately one-inch margins on all sides.
We grade on the basis of:
Content – the quality of the writing, the quality of the analysis, the organization, in other words all the considerations normally associated with a good paper. This, together with comprehensiveness, are very important to the grading – it would be very difficult to achieve a good grade without quality content and comprehensiveness.
Comprehensiveness – did you discuss ALL of the major cases and rulings and did you include ALL relevant authorities in the bibliography? Also, is the bibliography listed in an orderly fashion? And, did you highlight which authorities are analyzed in the body of the paper?
Citation – proper bluebook citation form discussed previously. Also, the proper use of footnotes to discuss somewhat related matters is considered favorably.
Conclusion – Perhaps the main point here is that we want to know that you understand the essence of the chosen topic. This includes a distillation of the principles of all authorities. The ability to reach your own insights is one manner in which you manifest your understanding of the topic.
Some other points:
A paper of approximately 70 pages is adequate for this assignment. Certainly though, there is no maximum length – you should use whatever length you need to satisfy the requirements.
It is very important that your paper is your own work and your own thoughts, not someone else’s. To the extent you use a brief thought from someone else, you must give proper attribution (citation) and certainly, anytime you quote more than a few (e.g., 2 or 3 words), you must use quotes or quote blocks as well as citations. If you use someone else’s work or extensively quote without attribution, the consequences could include a grade markdown, a failing grade or expulsion, depending on the circumstances. Also note that in turning in your paper, you agree that we may submit the paper to such services as turnitin.com for verification. So, do your own work and exercise proper caution.
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