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Libraries And Legal Research By Lance M Werner Libraries And


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Libraries And Legal Research By Lance M Werner Libraries And

  1. 1. LIBRARIES AND LEGAL RESEARCH By Lance M. Werner Electronic Tax Resources LIBRARIES AND LEGAL RESEARCH for Charitable Nonprofits M ichigan’s nonprofit sector may be having difficulty starting research. A tities seeking 501(c)(3) status can access ap- provides an invaluable serv- number of other broad-scope tax law re- plication forms and directions at http:// ice to Michigan’s residents, sources are worth mentioning as well.,,id=96109,00. businesses, and cultural and Findlaw is another broad resource offering html. The IRS also has information about governmental entities. There valuable tax law and nonprofit information, obtaining an Employer Identification Num- are literally tens of thousands including case summaries and newsletters. ber (EIN) at of charitable organizations in Michigan. The Newsletters, articles, and briefs are available pdf/fss4.pdf and organizations employ thousands of employ- at pdf/iss4.pdf. ees and generate millions of dollars in chari- index.html#Scene_1. Case summaries can be A number of different options are avail- table giving. found at able to any researcher seeking the black letter Charitable nonprofit corporations are in- summary/index.html. of the law. The United States Code, includ- trinsically linked to tax law. Anyone inter- Another worthwhile offering is available ing relevant sections of the Internal Revenue ested in conducting research on nonprofit from the Mayfield Publishing Company Code, can be accessed through the Govern- tax law can find many comprehensive re- through Legalbitstream, which furnishes a ment Printing Office website at http://www. sources available online free of charge. All wide array of tax-related legal information, Another that is required to access this information is a including case law, at option for accessing the Internal Revenue computer with Internet access and a mod- Code is available from the Cornell Law icum of web savvy. If, per chance, a com- Researchers may find it useful to visit elec- School, Legal Information Institute web page DECEMBER 2006 puter with Internet access is not immediately tronic resource directories for tax law. The at The available, a visit to the local public library Tax and Accounting Sites Directory from Ac- Code is also available through Findlaw at should solve the problem. This article high- countants World is a fairly robust example, lights electronic resources for federal and state available at Michigan nonprofit tax law information with emphasis html#court. Another tax law directory is on charitable organizations. These resources available through The Open Directory Proj- As with the federal tax law resources men- are free and may prove useful when conduct- ect (dmoz) at tioned above, electronic resources with in- ing research in this area. Legal_Information/Tax/. formation about tax law for charitable non- Legal research can be conducted in a vari- profit organizations in Michigan are readily Narrow-Scope Resources ety of fashions. The overview below is loosely available on the web. The state has a variety ♦ arranged on a general-to-specific research Besides the electronic resource directories of informative and practical offerings. methodology. The discussion that follows and search engines, several specific electronic Those endeavoring to conduct research MICHIGAN BAR JOURNAL will begin with general resources and end resources may prove valuable. In this vein, on state tax law and how it affects nonprofit with more specific resources. Based on the researchers may seek more specific informa- organizations, both incorporated and un- fact that nonprofit tax law is somewhat eso- tion from the federal and state electronic re- incorporated, will benefit greatly from visit- teric, the specific resources mentioned below sources overview that follows. ing the Michigan Department of Treasury will focus on state and federal tax law. (Treasury) website at http://www.michigan. Federal gov/treasury/. The Treasury website contains Broad-Scope Resources A wealth of information about numerous specific tax law information regarding non- Although it is a little cliché, any discus- tax issues relating to charitable organiza- profits at sion about broad-scope electronic research tions is available from the Internal Revenue 0,1607,7-121-1750_2119---,00.html. Forms, resources is incomplete without mentioning Service (IRS). The IRS website has a variety instructions, opinions, and State Tax Com- the merits of a basic Google search. Begin- of offerings, including Internal Revenue Bul- mission Bulletins, along with a great deal of ning research by conducting a Google search letins, forms, and contact information at other tax-related offerings at the site, pro- at is a great way to and vide guidance on topics such as sales tax get a ‘‘foot in the door’’ for any person who En- and use tax. 46
  2. 2. The Michigan legislature website is a LIBRARIES AND LEGAL RESEARCH tremendous resource for researchers of statu- tory tax law. The legislature’s website can be accessed at The legislature’s site has other informational offerings that may be of interest to nonprofit tax law researchers, including pending legis- lation, executive orders, and historical docu- ments. Those seeking Michigan Attorney General opinions regarding tax law and non- profit entities can search the AG opinion file at the Michigan Office of the Attorney Gen- eral website at ag/0,1607,7-164-20988---,00.html. Case law pertaining to tax issues is avail- able through the Michigan Courts, One Court of Justice site at http://www.courts. Case law is only one of the many offerings at this website. The State Bar of Michigan also offers fairly robust elec- tronic access to case law through its website at cfm. The State Bar website covers decisions of the Michigan Court of Appeals, Michigan Supreme Court, Eastern and Western Federal District Courts, and U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals spanning from 1998 through cur- DECEMBER 2006 rent decisions. Persons seeking decisions and opinions may benefit by searching the Find- law website at http://www.f casecode/courts/6th.html. Findlaw furnishes a number of different search options to ac- cess decisions. Conclusion The electronic resources that I have men- tioned represent a small portion of the elec- ♦ tronic resources that are freely available on the Internet. The premise of this article is to MICHIGAN BAR JOURNAL furnish legal researchers with a basic toolkit for nonprofit tax law electronic research. Any researcher requiring additional assis- tance and guidance may benefit greatly from seeking the services of a law library’s legal reference librarian. ♦ Lance M. Werner is the library law specialist for the Library of Michigan, Michigan Department of His- tory, Arts and Libraries. He is a member of the State Bar and the State Bar Committee on Libraries, Le- gal Research, and Legal Publications. He earned a B.A. in psychology from the University of Northern Colorado, a J.D. from Michigan State University, and an M.L.I.S. from Wayne State University. 47