So, you would think that if the IRS provided instructions, you could rely on them when filling out your tax return.  I think that is only common sense.

However, that is not the case.  In what to me seems to be a classic case of lack of accountability, the only authoritative sources for tax law are the official statutes, regulations and judicial decisions.  If you go to Tax Court and rely on a publication, you could very well lose.

Following is a link to an article that lists several cases where taxpayers have relied on publications and lost.  They are too numerous to list here.  (

Bottom line is that if you are going to tax court, make sure what you are citing in the tax publication as the basis for your position can actually be traced back to the tax code or a revenue ruling or another court case.

You can’t make this stuff up.

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