By Rose-Michele Nardi
This article was published in the November 2015 edition of NTEA
IRS Rulings (e.g., Letter
Rulings, Technical Advice Memoranda and Chief Counsel Advisories) published in
the last few years are generally available on irs.gov. The trick is knowing
how to find them. This overview provides key navigation tips to locate desired
First, visit irs.gov/uac/Find-Help.
This Web page houses detailed information on how to locate a form or
publication, such as Form 637 (Registration) or Publication 510 (Excise Taxes).
(Please be aware, if you know the title or number of a given form or
publication, you should be able to easily locate it using the primary search
box. Unfortunately, this does not work with IRS Rulings.)
For IRS Rulings, visit tinyurl.com/IRSRulings.
On this page, you can search by number, Uniform Issue List Codes (UILC) or
subject. The simplest way to obtain a Ruling from this page is by using its
identifying number. If you have this information, type it into the “Find” box,
select “Number” for the second box (the default search option) and click “Find.”
The desired link should appear. (A sample number of a recent Letter Ruling is
201447001, which means it became available to the public in the 47th week of
2014.) If you have the specific number, you can obtain the decision by simply
typing it into your preferred online search engine.
Often, people do not have the actual number of the
Ruling they seek. In this case, change the second box to “UILC” and type the
statutory code section in the “Find” box. For example, most FET Rulings on heavy
trucks and trailers are decided under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) 4051, so the
one you are trying to find will likely show up under UILC 4051. If not, you
could also try UILC 4052, 4053 and 4221. This search type will give you a list
of IRS Rulings with the given UILC in chronological order (most recent to
oldest). Using this method, the oldest currently available decision was
published in 1999. (Please note, if you know the approximate year of
publication, it will be much easier to locate.)
The last alternative is by subject, but, unfortunately,
this is not a general key word search index. For example, if looking for a
Ruling on the feed, seed and fertilizer exemption, you cannot simply type seed
or fertilizer. Instead, it only recognizes subject titles tied to related UILC.
The title of UILC 4051, for instance, is “Imposition of Tax on Heavy Trucks and
Trailers Sold at Retail (Taxable v. Nontaxable).” If you type in key words from
this subject title, such as heavy trucks, you will generally pull up most (but
not necessarily all) of the same decisions available using UILC search
This search will be broader than a subject listing. If
the Ruling addresses a specific sub-issue under 4051, the IRS may use a
different subject title. If a Ruling decided under IRC 4051 has a UILC of
4051.03, although it is a 4051 UILC search result, it does not appear by subject
using the term heavy trucks. The IRS uses the subject title “Separate Purchase
of Vehicle and Parts or Accessories” for Rulings addressing sub-issue .03.
Therefore, it makes sense to use the broader UILC search terms 4051, 4052, 4053
and 4221 instead of trying to learn and remember the separate titles and
potential subtitles for each UILC.
If you cannot find a particular Ruling on irs.gov, consider contacting
your accountant or tax consultant who might have access to other
Rose-Michele Nardi is a shareholder of the Washington, DC law firm
Transport Counsel PC (transportcounsel.com).
For 18 years, she has advised clients on the proper application of the retailer
FET on trucks, trailers and tractors. Rose-Michele represents clients in IRS
proceedings involving FET, and regularly presents webinars and seminars for
truck dealers and upfitters.