Tax Analysts

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Founded 1970
Headquarters Falls Church, Virginia, United States

Tax Analysts is a nonprofit publisher of weekly magazines and daily online journals on tax policy and administration. Tax Analysts also promotes transparency in tax policymaking and holds regular conferences on key tax issues.


Thomas F. Field founded Tax Analysts in 1970 as part of an effort to expose tax policymaking to the general public at a time when it was being heavily influenced by special interests. The organization provided analysis on prominent policy debates, offered congressional testimony on proposed legislation and published op-eds that could reach a broader audience.[1] But within 10 years, the group had shifted focus and become the country's foremost provider of unbiased tax information with a style that since come to be regarded by tax professionals as "the epitome of hard-nosed impartiality."[2]

The organization underwent a restructuring at the end of 2001 as it sought to deal with globalization, technological advances and increased competition in the tax publishing arena. In 2001, Field retired from Tax Analysts and was succeeded by Christopher Bergin, who had until then been the editor of Tax Notes, the organization's flagship publication.[1]

Since its inception, the organization has grown dramatically in size and scope, moving from a lightweight nonprofit to a global publisher with correspondents across the country and around the globe providing information for some 150,000 readers worldwide.[1][3]

Staffing, mission, and governance[edit]

Tax Analysts describes itself as "the only independent, nonpartisan policy organization dedicated to tax systems through an open, informed, and expert understanding of federal, state, and international tax policy."[4]

The organization's current president and publisher, Christopher E. Bergin, who joined Tax Analysts in 1991.[5] Bergin took the reins from founder Thomas Field after the latter's retirement.[6]


The organization publishes:

  • Tax Notes: Tax Analysts’ flagship publication, published weekly, provides news and in-depth commentary on federal tax developments[7]
  • Tax Notes Today: daily online publication on federal taxation provides comprehensive federal tax news and commentary[7]
  • State Tax Notes, published weekly
  • State Tax Today
  • Tax Notes International
  • Worldwide Tax Daily
  • The Exempt Organization Tax Review
  • The Insurance Tax Review

The organization also publishes several reference sources, including:

  • Federal Research Library: compiles the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, IRS regulations, Treasury decisions and other primary sources[8]
  • Worldwide Tax Treaties, a database of more than 5,000 tax treaties
  • The Tax Directory: a directory of officials charged with writing, implementing and interpreting tax law in the US and internationally
  • Withholding Worldwide

Other activities[edit]

FOIA advocacy[edit]

It has extensive time and effort to ensure public access to key documents in tax policy and administration. When necessary, it has sued the IRS for access to documents through which the agency provides guidance to its staff and individual taxpayers. Using the Freedom of Information Act, Tax Analysts fought for access to key documents in tax policy and administration. In 1972, the organization sued the Internal Revenue Service for access to private letter rulings (PLRs) and technical advice memorandums (TAMs) — crucial guidance documents that provided legal advice to specific taxpayers and IRS field agents.[1][2]

Over the years, this had become a sort of “secret law” whereby the IRS decided how to apply the law to particular taxpayers and then refused to make the terms public. This practice left other taxpayers at a disadvantage, since the IRS relied on existing secret guidance when deciding subsequent cases. At the same time, it gave an unfair advantage to a few large law and accounting firms that had joined forces to create a private library of these undisclosed materials.[1][2]

The courts gave Tax Analysts access to PLRs, and Congress soon required public disclosure of TAMs as well. Those the foundation for almost 40 years of subsequent litigation by the firm to defend disclosure and tax transparency. The organization continues to work for transparency in the administration of the tax law and recently forced the IRS to disclose guidance being sent to IRS field agents via email.[1][2][9]


The organization hosts policy forums and roundtable discussions to discuss issues concerning federal, state, and international taxation.[1]

Tax History Project[edit]

In 1995 Tax Analysts created the Tax History Project to provide information about the history of American taxation to scholars, policymakers, students, citizens, and the media. The project provides access to web-based documentary publications, original historical research, access to tax returns filed by U.S. presidents and other archival data.[10]

Joseph J. Thorndike is the director of the project.[11][12]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "History of tax Analysts". Falls Church, Virginia: Tax Analysts. May 2008. Archived from the original on 2008-05-02. Retrieved 2010-01-04. 
  2. ^ a b c d Glain, Stephen J. (2003-10-14). "Shining a light on the 'secret law' of the IRS". Boston Globe. 
  3. ^ "About Tax Analysts". Falls Church, Virginia: Tax Analysts. Archived from the original on 2008-07-08. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  4. ^ About Us: Our Story, Tax Analysts (accessed August 17, 2016).
  5. ^ About Us: Executive Staff, Tax Analysts (accessed August 17, 2016).
  6. ^ Forty Years of Change,One Constant: Tax Analysts, Tax Analysts, p. 2.
  7. ^ a b "Federal Tax News and Analysis". Falls Church, Virginia: Tax Analysts. Archived from the original on 2008-08-01. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  8. ^ "Federal Research Tools". Falls Church, Virginia: Tax Analysts. Archived from the original on 2008-08-03. Retrieved 2009-01-04. 
  9. ^ David Cay Johnston (2008-02-12). "I.R.S. Said to Flout Orders to Yield Data About Audits". The New York Times. New York City. Retrieved 2010-01-04. [dead link]
  10. ^ "Tax History Project". Falls Church, Virginia: Tax Analysts. June 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-13. 
  11. ^ Glenn Kessler, Trump's false claim that 'there’s nothing to learn' from his tax returns, Washington Post (May 12, 2016).
  12. ^ Domenico Montanaro, 3 Reasons We Care About Politicians' Taxes, NPR (August 12, 2016).

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]