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Unpacking the Force of Law

Kristin E. Hickman

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - School of Law


Vanderbilt Law Review, Vol. 66, No. 2, 2013
Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13-29

In 2011, in Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research v. United States, the Supreme Court held that general authority Treasury regulations adopted using notice-and-comment rulemaking carry the force of law and thus are eligible for Chevron deference. In the wake of Mayo, courts and scholars are now struggling with its implications for whether temporary Treasury regulations and IRB guidance documents (revenue rulings, revenue procedures, and notices) that lack notice and comment but are enforceable through civil penalties are likewise eligible for Chevron deference and, relatedly, whether these formats are in fact subject to APA notice-and-comment rulemaking requirements. Currently prevailing judicial tests for evaluating these questions do not offer clear or easy answers for the tax context. Ultimately, both questions turn on whether the agency actions in question carry “the force of law.” The purpose of this Article is to take a step back from existing doctrinal standards and to sort through the basic administrative law principles and Supreme Court precedents that drive those standards in an effort to develop a coherent approach to Treasury and IRS rulemaking and judicial review thereof.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 79

Keywords: adminitrative procedure act, judicial review, Chevron, Skidmore, treasury regulation, revenue ruling, guidance, legislative rules, interpretative rules, nonlegislative rules

JEL Classification: K2, K23, K29, K3, K34

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Date posted: March 31, 2013 ; Last revised: July 29, 2013

Suggested Citation

Hickman, Kristin E., Unpacking the Force of Law (2013). Vanderbilt Law Review, Vol. 66, No. 2, 2013; Minnesota Legal Studies Research Paper No. 13-29. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2242134

Contact Information

Kristin E. Hickman (Contact Author)
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - School of Law ( email )
229 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States
612-624-2915 (Phone)

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