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The Virtual Tax Library: A Comparison of Five Electronic Tax Research Platforms


Katherine Pratt


Loyola Law School Los Angeles

Jennifer M. Kowal


Loyola Law School Los Angeles

Daniel Martin


Loyola Law School Los Angeles

December 17, 2008

Florida Tax Review, Vol. 8, No. 9, 2008
Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2008-40

Abstract:     
Improved LexisNexis and Westlaw tax research platforms and new electronic tax research platforms offered by BNA (BNA Tax Management Library), CCH (CCH Tax Research NetWork), and RIA (RIA Checkpoint) constitute a virtual tax library that offers tax researchers much of the content and functionality of a physical tax library, as well as some useful functionality features (e.g., direct linking of primary and secondary sources) a physical tax library cannot provide. The new virtual tax library offers tax researchers numerous benefits, including the convenience of a portable library, more reliable and current research results, and increased research efficiency. Many tax researchers have not adapted their tax research techniques to effectively utilize the virtual tax library, however, because they are unfamiliar with the new and improved electronic tax research platforms.

To reduce tax researchers' costs of evaluating and comparing the five electronic platforms, this Article provides detailed comparisons of the content and functionality features offered by the platforms. This Article also explains how to access various types of primary and secondary tax sources on the platforms and provides detailed search pathways that will enable tax researchers to navigate around the electronic platforms.

Part I of this Article provides background information regarding the development of the new electronic tax research platforms and explains our project and methodology. Part II compares the primary and secondary source content offered on the five electronic platforms and compares various types of free tax information that are available on the internet. Part III compares the various functionality features offered on the five electronic platforms. Part IV illustrates the differences in search results obtained by using the various electronic platforms to research a topical tax research question. Part V discusses the factors that are relevant when designing an electronic tax research system and makes recommendations about combining the electronic tax research platforms to create a workable virtual tax library.

A chart in Appendix A provides a side-by-side comparison of the primary source content available on the five electronic tax research platforms. The chart includes search pathways and date restrictions for each type of content. A chart in Appendix B provides a side-by-side comparison of the functionality features offered by each platform. The chart includes quick reference guides for initiating various types of searches, as well as user support information for each platform.

The published version of this article includes new information (e.g., search pathways and date restrictions for the content information in Appendix A) that was not included in the draft version of this article.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 81

Keywords: tax research, income tax, tax policy, legal research, law practice, law libraries

JEL Classification: H20

Accepted Paper Series


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Date posted: December 17, 2008 ; Last revised: April 12, 2010

Suggested Citation

Pratt, Katherine and Kowal, Jennifer M. and Martin, Daniel, The Virtual Tax Library: A Comparison of Five Electronic Tax Research Platforms (December 17, 2008). Florida Tax Review, Vol. 8, No. 9, 2008; Loyola-LA Legal Studies Paper No. 2008-40. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1317356

Contact Information

Katherine Pratt (Contact Author)
Loyola Law School Los Angeles ( email )
919 Albany Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-1211
United States
213-736-8163 (Phone)
213-380-3769 (Fax)
Jennifer M. Kowal
Loyola Law School Los Angeles ( email )
919 Albany Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-1211
United States
213-736-8349 (Phone)
Daniel Martin
Loyola Law School Los Angeles ( email )
919 Albany Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015-1211
United States
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