HISTORICAL INCOME TAX LAWS AND REGULATIONS
(updated Dec. 12, 2017)

Many students of the federal income tax lack ready access to important government documents related thereto, most significantly the various  regulations adopted to implement the prior tax statutes. The  purpose of this web page is to make those regulations available.

For those who are unfamiliar with these old tax regulations, a short  explanation must be offered regarding the method by which the government  in the past published regulations for various prior tax acts. Typically  when a new tax law was enacted, Congress granted rule making authority  to the Secretary of the Treasury. However before the creation of the  Federal Register in 1936, these regulations were simply printed in  booklet form and made available to the public. As examples, Regulations 5  concerned bonded warehouses for the distilling of alcoholic beverages.  Regulations 6 dealt with the tax on fermented liquors. Regulations 8  related to tobacco taxes, and Regulations 9 concerned the tax on  oleomargarine. Regulations 4 concerned the assessment of the 1863  federal income tax, and Regulations 21 concerned the similar income  taxes imposed by the 1894 act. Some regulations did not relate  specifically to taxpayers, but instead to government employees. Regulations 1 related to tax assessments, and Regulations 3 concerned the assessment  of the legacy tax. These and other regulations were simply printed as  booklets and distributed to the public. Some sets of regulations were  short while others were extremely long, and the voluminous regulations  had tables of contents as well as lengthy indexes.  Some of the shorter  regulations were published as Treasury Decisions in official  publications like Treasury Decisions Under the Internal Revenue Laws  (“TDIR”). The TDIR series started in 1898 and ended in 1942, and the set  contains 36 volumes; most law libraries make it available. Links to many of the volumes in this set appear below.

The income tax regulations which appear here were obtained from several sources. First, the TDIR series contained amended  Regulations 33 for the 1917 act, Regulations 45 for the 1918  act, Regulations 45 as amended in 1920, Regulations 62 for the  1921 act, Regulations 65 for the 1924 act, and Regulations 69  for the 1926 act. These regulations published as Treasury Decisions in the TDIR are included here for the purpose showing the  reader how the original regulations appeared.

The second source for the regulations made available here is a multi-volume set  (approximately 150 in number) named Internal Revenue Acts of  the United States, 1909-1950, compiled by Mr. Bernard Reams,  and published by William S. Hein & Co., Inc., a prominent  law publisher. This set of books reprinted all the various tax acts adopted during the period 1909 through 1950, and the set  is very handy for the tax practitioner. Also included in this set are copies of most of the older tax regulations promulgated during this same period. Since these are copies of official government  publications, they cannot be copyrighted.

The final source of the below regulations is the Federal Register, the first issue being published in 1936.

But a word of caution is in order regarding the 1936 Federal Register.  1936 was the year that the Federal Register was first published. Some  libraries have simply bound together the daily editions of the Federal  Register and make that available. But in 1936, there was also an annual  edition; this edition published all that appeared in the daily edition  of the Federal Register for that year, excepting each daily’s title page  which was not reprinted. Hence, page numbers of the “daily edition” are  different from the “annual edition” for this year. But having the date  of publication makes finding such pages in the annual 1936 edition easy.

Below are identified the various tax acts and the regulations promulgated to implement those acts:

1913 - The October 3, 1913 tax act: "An Act To Reduce Tariff Duties And To  Provide Revenue For The Government, And For Other Purposes," 38 Stat.  114, ch. 16. Regulations  No. 33,  promulgated on January 5, 1914, implemented this act. These regulations  were promulgated as Treasury Decision 1944, but they were not published  in the TDIR. The copies provided here were obtained from Reams.

1916 - The September 8, 1916 tax act: "An Act To Increase The Revenue, And  For Other Purposes," 39 Stat. 756, ch. 463. Treasury Decision 2367, 18  TDIR 168, simply made the Regulations 33 for the 1913 act applicable to  this act.

1917 - The October 3, 1917 tax act: "An Act to Provide Revenue To Defray War  Expenses, And For Other Purposes", 40 Stat. 300, ch. 63.  Treasury  Decision 2690, 20 TDIR 126, promulgated revised  Regulations  No. 33 applicable to this act. 

1918 - The Revenue Act of 1918:  "An Act To Provide Revenue, And For Other Purposes", 40  Stat. 1057, ch. 18.  Treasury Decision 2831, 21 TDIR 170,  promulgated  Regulations No. 45 for this act. Treasury Decision 3146, 23 TDIR 352, promulgated revised (1920) Regulations No. 45. Included here are copies of these actual Treasury Decisions.

1921 - The Revenue Act of 1921:  "An Act To Reduce And Equalize Taxation, To Provide Revenue, And For  Other Purposes," 42 Stat. 227, ch. 136. Treasury Decision 3295, 24 TDIR  207, promulgated Regulations  No. 62 for this act. Included here is the copy of this actual Treasury Decision.

1924 - The Revenue Act of 1924:  "An Act To Reduce And Equalize Taxation, To Provide Revenue, And For  Other Purposes," 43 Stat. 253, ch. 234. Treasury Decision 3640, 26 TDIR  745, promulgated Regulations  No. 65 for this act. Included here is the copy of this actual Treasury Decision.

1926 - The Revenue Act of 1926:  "An Act To Reduce And Equalize Taxation, To Provide Revenue, And For  Other Purposes,"  44 Stat. 9, ch. 27. Treasury Decision 3922, 28 TDIR  558, promulgated Regulations  No. 69 for this act. Included here is the copy of this actual Treasury Decision.

1928 - The Revenue Act of 1928: "An Act To Reduce And Equalize Taxation, Provide Revenue, And For Other Purposes," 45 Stat. 791, ch. 852. Regulations  No. 74 were applicable to this act. The booklet form of these regulations is provided here.

1932 - The Revenue Act of 1932: "An Act To Provide Revenue, Equalize Taxation, And For Other Purposes,"  47 Stat. 169, ch. 209.  Regulations  No. 77 were applicable to this act. The booklet form of these regulations is provided here.

1934 - The Revenue Act of 1934: "An Act To Provide Revenue, Equalize Taxation, And For Other Purposes,"  48 Stat. 680, ch. 277.  Regulations  No. 86 were applicable to this act. The booklet form of these regulations is provided here.

1936 - The Revenue Act of 1936: "An Act To Provide Revenue, Equalize Taxation, And For Other Purposes,"  49 Stat. 1648, ch. 690.  Regulations  No. 94 were applicable to this act. These regulations were obtained from the Federal Register (all links on this page to the Federal Register go to a government website, and when there, click on the picture of the Federal Register):

1 Fed. Reg. 2093, Sat. Nov. 14, 1936

1 Fed. Reg. 2161, Tues. Nov. 17, 1936

1 Fed. Reg. 2244, Wed. Nov. 18, 1936

1938 - The Revenue Act of 1938: "An Act To Provide Revenue, Equalize Taxation, And For Other Purposes,"  52 Stat. 447, ch. 289.  Regulations  No. 101 were applicable to this act. These regulations were obtained from the  Federal Register:

4 Fed. Reg. 616, Fri. Feb. 10, 1939

4 Fed. Reg. 700, Sat. Feb. 11, 1939

4 Fed. Reg. 802, Tues. Feb. 14, 1939

1939 - The 1939 Internal Revenue Code: 53 Stat., part 1. See Senate Report 76-20.  Regulations  No. 103 were applicable to this act. These regulations were obtained from the Federal Register:

5 Fed. Reg. 348-424, Thurs. Feb. 1, 1940

5 Fed. Reg. 437-560, Fri. Feb. 2, 1940

5 Fed. Reg. 569-588, Sat. Feb. 3, 1940

Regulations  No. 111 for the 1939 Code, a revision of the regulations for the 1939 Code, were adopted in November, 1943:

8 Fed. Reg. 14882-14979, Wed. Nov. 3, 1943

8 Fed. Reg. 15002-15175, Thurs. Nov. 4, 1943

8 Fed. Reg. 15205-15239, Fri. Nov. 5, 1943

Regulations No. 118 also revised regulations for the 1939 Code and were published in the Federal Register:

18 Fed. Reg. 5771-6199, Sat. Sept. 26, 1953.

Here are Regulations Nos. 90 and 91, which were regulations adopted for the Social Security Act. Regulations 106, 107, and 116 were adopted to govern wage withholding.

The 1999 and 2003 regulations for the 1986 Internal Revenue Code are posted on this page of Jon Roland's website.

Here is a searchable PDF file of the 1954 Internal Revenue Code.  That Code was scanned, converted to Word text and proofed several times before being saved as a PDF file. The Senate Finance Committee Report regarding this Code is available for download. See also 1986 Internal Revenue Code (Jan. 2002 version)

Here is a "Secret Memo" about the Bureau of Internal Revenue. Finally, here is a 1975 Congressional report about activities of the IRS.

Why is it important for students of the tax laws to study the old tax acts? They are interrelated as explained here.

    Post Script:

The following are citations to former federal income tax acts:

1861 act: 12 Stat. 292, 309, ch. 45 (§§ 49-51).  
1862 act: 12 Stat. 432, 473, ch. 119 (§§ 86-114).
1864 act: 13 Stat. 223, 281, ch. 173 (§§ 116-150).
1865 act: 13 Stat. 469, 479, ch. 78 (amended § 116).
1866 act: 14 Stat. 98, 137, ch. 184.
1867 act: 14 Stat. 471, 477, ch. 169.
1870 act: 16 Stat. 256, 257, ch. 255.
1894 act: 28 Stat. 509, ch. 349.