How long is the tax code? Out of curiosity, a download of the current version (through November 29, 2018) is 6,499 pages. While it’s not all code provisions, that’s still too many! Then, there’s accompanying regulations that explain the code. In addition, the IRS publishes other guidance and court decisions to interpret various provisions. Even for individuals blessed with photographic memories, this would be a daunting undertaking to read through and fully understand all this authority, so you can see why tax research may be required.
Moreover, the tax laws change constantly. Many laws are only effective for so many years unless they’re extended or modified. So, there’s no way your tax preparer can know everything. Even when CPAs and attorneys specialize in a particular area of tax law, there will still be times when they come across something new to them. It may be better to pay for any tax research before going through with a particular transaction to make sure you and your preparer understand it, can do it properly and know whether the position you take on your tax return has a realistic possibility (a one in three or greater chance) of being sustained on audit. Do you want to run the risk of paying additional taxes, fees and possibly penalties?