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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on April 7, 2006 2:40 AM. The previous post in this blog was New Foxworth charge. The next post in this blog is Tram news. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, April 7, 2006

The Complete Internal Revenue Code Podcast Project

I've enjoyed blogging for nearly four years now, but long-time readers know that I've longed to branch out into cutting-edge ancillary activities like podcasting. Lately I've also been thinking about possible ways to combine blogging with my professional bailiwick, the federal tax laws.

Well, yesterday, right in the middle of a scintillating lecture I was giving on the wonders of carryover basis, a brilliant idea struck. I'm surprised I didn't have this flash of genius sooner. Of course! Why not make the entire tax code available via podcast?

I'm all about public service, and I could not think of a more worthy internet project than to record a reading of the Internal Revenue Code for those who love to download mp3's and play them back on their iPods. You've heard of books on tape? How about tax law coming through those earbuds? Let's kick it with Title 26, people!

Plus, blessed are the peacemakers -- this will help prevent and resolve disputes among tax specialists who find themselves in disagreement with each other about how they remember some provision or other. If they have a computer handy, they can just click on the applicable Code section on the podcast page, and even if they're too impaired to read all of the statutory provisions, they can play them back and hear their exact language over and over until the differences of opinion are ironed out. If it saves one life, it's worth it.

Of course, you can't put the entire Code in a single sound file -- that would be too big for the portable players to handle. Instead, to keep this a handy resource, I'm going to record one section of the Code each day in a separate file, from now until I have them all posted on the official project website. I think there are a few thousand Code sections, and so the entire project will take several years, but think of how we'll all feel when we're done! It will be like mapping the human genome.

And when that happy day comes, we can go right back to section 1 and start all over, because heaven knows, it will have changed several times by then.

So here it is, people. I've got big plans for the site -- advertising, celebrity readers, on-location recordings, musical backdrops -- but for now it's just straight Code, no chaser. You can tell your grandkids that you were there on day 1. Because here's the official project page, where you can find section 1 of the Code waiting for you. And it's absolutely free. Enjoy!

Comments (38)

Are you taking requests? I'd like to request the Oregon Revised Statutes.

He he! That would be a good one, too. But I'm sticking with the IRC.

What about the regs?

What about the regs? That's where all the real fun is ;-)

I'm sorry, but it is against federal law and several U.S. tax treaties for anyone to podcast the 704(b) regs. To me it's not worth the risk.

I can't believe you are playing this one straight. Someday, Jack, you will be recognized worldwide for the astonishing performance artist you are. Brilliant!

Jack, your voice is better than Garrison Keillor's.

I can't wait for the next podcast.

Did they bump April Fools' Day to the 7th this year? The whole code? Won't great scads of it be obsolete, repealed, or amended before you've even gotten to the cafeteria plans of sec. 125?

Problem is, you'd need the 60GB iPod to get the entire code.

That's fabulous. Why don't you just record your tax lectures and post those, as well? Although you might put those commercial study tape folks out of business. Hell, Office for the Mac records mp4 audio, as does OneNote for the PC. Some folks out there might already have the audio of your lectures.

I'm looking forward to the musical version.

Wait, is this reading from the '54 Code, or the '86 Code? Your 'podcast project' link says '54, but that's a bit outdated, n'est-ce pas?

This is great. You should put it under a Creative Commons License so others can take it and run with it.

Question: What about updates? Maybe you should release a PocketPod for that? :-)

Been here, doing this, speaking in the sleepless frustrated nightwatch this time of year with a Lic.Tax.Cons. who pillowtalks in her sleep.

I'm not sure which is worse: that you actually spent the time to do this, or that I actually spent any time listening to it. How did you keep from laughing?

This is my job. This is my life.

Wait, is this reading from the '54 Code, or the '86 Code? Your 'podcast project' link says '54, but that's a bit outdated, n'est-ce pas?

Oops. I'm still living in 1982.

So what drove you over the edge -- the Tram [rim shot] or VOE? Or are you just trying to establish the need for a year-long paid sabbatical?

Gee, Jack, I never realized that you had a sadistic streak. (Or is it masochistic?)

Oh my god. You are such a nerd.

Hey, I've got some friends who want to get in on this. You need help? I am an Interpretative Speech major, so if you need help on a few...

The IRS makes a habit out of hiring blind people so this might be more useful and worthwhile than you think.

This is a great idea! If you need help with the recordings, let me know. I'd love to pitch in.

Guess I'll trash my audio of Clinton reading his bio for this. Maybe CCH will hire you to be the voice of Federal Standard Tax ...

If he's looking for help, dibs on depreciation rules and fuel excise taxes!

Will there be an interpretative dance video podcast along with this? Because really, how else to know what Congress was thinking?

Justices Thomas and Scalia are on record as saying that they will only listen to the audio podcast -- they will not watch the video.

And when is the 50TB iPod coming out?

What happened to section four? I can't believe you're still keeping this up!

Section 4 has been repealed. I have decided not to podcast repealed provisions, despite requests that I have received for some of the old favorites.

After Section 5, the next section is 11.

Nice! By my count, then (according to this page and a quick little script: http://www.fourmilab.ch/ustax/www/contents.html) there are 1692 sections, enough for over 4.5 years of tax podcasting fun!

In response to Jason. Isn't the Tax Code public domain? If that's the case wouldn't a pod-cast also be in the public domain or is there something about the expression of reading this aloud that makes it copyrightable.

Perhaps if it is read by James Earl Jones or Kermit the Frog, it'll be more clearly a copyrightable expression.

On a more serious note: why not do a hardware hack and have the entire text displayed on the screen? Even with the text version you may still need a couple of extra Terabytes.

is there something about the expression of reading this aloud that makes it copyrightable.

As I understand it (and copyright lawyers always tell me I don't), the sound recording has its own copyright, different from any right in the words being "performed." Here the words are in the public domain, but my reading is not.

Cool!

As I understand it (and copyright lawyers always tell me I don't), the sound recording has its own copyright, different from any right in the words being "performed." Here the words are in the public domain, but my reading is not.

Then by all means license this with a Creative Commons license! You may want to select one that has the "share-alike" term, since then all the derivative works will carry the same license. That means your podcast and everything based on it will spread virally through out the globe!

The implications boggle the mind.

OMG! Thank you Jack!

Your Tax Code podcast has helped me kick my sleeping pill habit.

I was asleep before you turned the first page.

So, how does it end?

Do you take requests? As a former revenue agent, I would like to request Section 61 as a priority reading. If you have to go look it up you've already missed the joke!

Will you have a Top 10 or Top 100 list? I would vote for skipping the pension and profit sharing areas. I think there should be some limits.

As for the remark about blind IRS personnel, I read that and feel sad. Furthermore, I am not vindictive and you are going to regret saying that.

Would have been handy last semester -- easier to carry my ipod than the code book :-) ...


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