What Comprises the Common Body of Tax Law?

Written by James Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

The "Common Body of Tax Law" is a legal framework that denotes the taxing authority and regulations of a given country's tax laws. The term is most often used to describe the framework that governs the American tax code. Since there are several key agencies that have the authority to levy taxes, penalties, fees and other duties on American citizens, the Common Body of Tax Law is quite complex. After all, the tax code is set forth in tens of thousands of IRS and Treasury regulations.

However, it's possible to reduce the Common Body down to its component parts and get a basic sense of the legal, philosophical and practical framework that affects hundreds of millions of American taxpayers. For the purposes of broad discussions about the Common Body of Tax Law, many of the specific details of the tax code are irrelevant. Instead, it's more important to focus on the ways in which the various apparatuses of the American system of taxation interact with one another as well as with the taxpayers that they govern. Since many treatises and advanced legal textbooks have been written the subject of taxation, anyone who wishes to learn about specific aspects of the Common Body of Tax Law should consult their local library.

In its most basic sense, the Common Body is governed by regulations set forth by the Internal Revenue Service. Known as the Internal Revenue Code, this collection of rules is deemed to be the "last word" on tax-related issues. In a sense, it's an extremely detailed primate document. Most disputes between individual taxpayers and the IRS are resolved by the Internal Revenue Code. Even disputes that form the basis of lawsuits between individual or corporate taxpayers and the U.S. government may be adjudicated using this collection of regulations.

Despite the primacy of the Internal Revenue Code, most taxpayers are unaware of its provisions. When an individual taxpayer puts together his or her tax return during the early part of each year, he or she refers largely to certain simplified aspects of this code. These are set forth by the U.S. Treasury Department in certain aptly-named "Treasury regulations." These regulations are another important part of the Common Body of Tax Law. Since the Treasury Department is responsible for allocating and disposing of the nation's revenues, it must play a key role in the enforcement of the regulations that govern such revenues. Other aspects of the Common Body include legal precedents and the policies of local revenue departments.

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