Skip to Main Content

Federal Tax Law: A Beginner's Guide

This guide, authored by the Law Library of Congress, provides an overview of the resources available covering U.S. tax law and taxation.


A political cartoon of an ox (with the label  'ye oppressed tax-payer') laboring to pull a cart piled with boxes, barrels, and bags (labeled things like 'road tax,' 'school tax,' 'county taxes,' etc.)
George Yost Coffin, artist. [Ox as "ye oppressed tax-payer" pulling cart of municipal, county, poor, state, courthouse, road, school, and local taxes]. [Between 1880 and 1900]. Cartoon Drawings. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

"[T]o have revenue there must be taxes; that no taxes can be devised which are not more or less inconvenient and unpleasant...." George Washington, Farewell Address, 1796.

"Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes." Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Jean-Baptiste Le Roy, 1789.

Whether it be in relation to annual income taxes, estate taxes, or the operations of a business, tax law is one area of the law that affects nearly everyone. But even though tax law is a part of daily life, legal issues in this area are frequently complex.

We have collected a sampling of the income tax, partnership, corporate, and estate tax resources available, both at the Law Library of Congress and on the free web, to help researchers begin their research in this area of law.

Please note that we cannot provide legal advice, interpretation, or analysis which could be interpreted as the practice of law; extensive bibliographies or legislative histories; or answers for student homework assignments. Although our research guides are selective, inclusion of a site or resource does not constitute endorsement by the Law Library of Congress. None of the information in any of our research guides is legal advice.