Two years ago I reviewed an app from Law ToGo that contains the Internal Revenue Code. The developer has now released new apps for the iPhone and iPad (different apps) that contain the latest text of both the Internal Revenue Code and the Treasury Regulations in a single app. I don't practice tax law, but the developer was kind enough to send me two free copies for review, so I gave one of the copies to my colleague David Wolf who practices public finance law and uses the Tax Code and Regs all the time. Wolf and I agree that these look like useful apps for any attorney for whom tax law is a part of his or her practice.
When you launch the app, the you are instantly given the choice to use either the Code or the Regs. Once you select a body of law, you are then brought to the search screen where you can enter a number of a specific prevision.
Use the wheels to enter a specific number and press the Search button to jump to that section. For example, Wolf frequently helps clients draft various types of debt instruments such as bonds, so he often uses Section 149:
If you don't know the specific number, you can also do a full text search. For example, I did a full text search for "volunteer fire department" and saw the two key sections. Tap on a provision to see the full text with your terms highlighted. Searches of the Code are pretty quick. Wolf tells me that some of his searches in the Treasury Regulations took 20 seconds. (The app warns you that the process might take a while and give you a progress indicator so that you can estimate how much time you have left for the search to complete.)
In the screens that I have shown above, you see menu bars at the top and bottom. Using the buttons at the bottom, you can tap the left or right arrow to browse through the sections, you can tap the four arrows pointing out to increase the font size (or get the opposite result by tapping the button with four arrows pointing in), you can press the plus sign to add a section to a list o bookmarks, and the envelope lets you e-mail the text of a section. However, if you don't press any buttons for a few seconds, the menu bars disappear so that you can see more of the statute at one time:
If you just want to browse through headings, you can tap the Code button to see the outline of the Code.
If you use an iPad, there is also an iPad version of this app. Unfortunately, there is not a single universal app; you need to buy another app for the iPad. It works the same way as the iPhone app, you just have more space to see more of the text at one time. By the way, the iPhone and iPad apps can both be used in either portrait or landscape mode.
Unlike some other apps that contain legal statutes, these apps lack hyperlinks. Those would make the app more useful, but Wolf told me that this might be difficult for an app like this because a typical cross-reference in this area law might be "as described in paragraph (b)(3)(ii) of this section" rather than "as described in Section 149(e)."
Note that there are a few other apps in the App Store which contain the tax code, but I cannot tell how up to date they are (and people have posted reviews on many of them complaining that they have not been updated). The developer of this app says in the app description that this app will be updated throughout 2011, noting:
This upgrade will provide you with all of the 2011 updates as they become available to us. We expect there will be three updates to the Internal Revenue Code and one update to the Treasury Regulations in 2011. The initial version will start with the February 2, 2010 version of the IRC and April 2009 version of the Treasury Regulations.
Should you get this app? Wolf told me that when is sitting at his desk, he is still more likely to use the paper books just because that is what he is used to doing, but when away from his desk it is very useful to have this extensive body of law readily available on an iPhone that is always with him without having to lug around the books. You can find this same law on the Internet for free, but it is much more convenient to use an app like this that has everything in one place, formatted for the iPhone or iPad screen and easy to search and bookmark, and ready to use even if you don't have an internet connection. At $25 and $35, these are some of the more expensive apps that you might purchase, but if the tax code is a part of your practice, I suspect that it would be very useful to have one or both of these apps on your iPhone and/or iPad.