Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

What Is the Most Heavily-Cited Tax Case?

My friend and colleague Adam Steinman just handed me a reprint of his article, The Irrepressible Myth of Celotex: Reconsidering Summary Judgment Burdens Twenty Years after the Trilogy, 63 Wash. & Lee L. Rev. 81 (2006).  Although the subject matter likely is of little interest to most readers of this blog, Adam unearthed a fascinating tidbit:  apparently there has been little empirical work identifying the most frequently cited cases.  With the help of LexisNexis, Adam published fascinating charts in his appendix (at pages 143-45) of the 15 most-cited cases by federal courts and tribunals and the 30 most-cited cases by federal and state courts and tribunals.  Here are the 10 most-cited cases from the latter chart:


There is not a tax case in any of Adam's charts.  So that got me to thinking:  what are the most heavily cited tax cases?  Is there any empirical work addressing the question?  Comments are open.

In our Tax Stories book, we took a stab at identifying what we think are the ten most influential income tax cases of all time.  Here is a back of the envelope calculation of the federal citations to the ten cases in Tax Stories:


Some of these results are surprising (at least to me), especially the dominance of Welch v. Helvering and the comparatively weak showing of Knetsch and Crane.  What other tax cases belong on this list?

For more on Tax Stories:

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» Most Heavily Cited Court Cases from Empirical Legal Studies
On the Tax Prof Blog, Paul Caron reports on the recent work of his colleague, Adam Steinman, who documented the most heavily cited court cases in his discussion of Celotex (a Civ Pro I standby). Paul's blog entry includes a [Read More]

Tracked on May 24, 2006 6:20:00 AM

» The Most Frequently Cited Supreme Court International Case from Opinio Juris
A couple of weeks ago David Zaring had an interesting post about his informal study of the most frequently-cited international law cases. Thanks to this p... [Read More]

Tracked on May 24, 2006 8:13:17 AM


I would think that Gregory would be quite high on the list.

Posted by: James | May 24, 2006 4:38:33 PM

Why is Welch v. Helvering surprising? Every time someone cites Rule 142 you can also throw that in as well.

Posted by: Joe Attorney | May 25, 2006 2:55:00 AM

How about Gregory v. Helvering? Who can forget Judge Learned Hand: "Any one may so arrange his affairs that his taxes shall be as low as possible; he is not bound to choose that pattern which will best pay the Treasury; there is not even a patriotic duty to increase one's taxes". Classic stuff.

Posted by: Tom | May 25, 2006 9:24:20 AM