Writing Journal Articles

To publish a tax-related manuscript, we recommend 5 steps: (1) select a topic, (2) select a target journal, (3) follow the journal guidelines, (4) polish your manuscript, and (5) submit it. Each of these steps are briefly discussed below.


Select Topic

List topics in which you specialize or in which you intend to develop some expertise. From this list, select a topic in which tax professionals or other groups are particularly interested. For example, a manuscript dealing with the tax aspects of e-commerce will have broader reader appeal than one explaining how to maximize the medical expense deduction.

Statutory changes, new regulations, and recent judicial decisions may provide the basis for a tax article. Journal editors prefer manuscripts dealing with current or hot topics. Browsing through current tax newsletters (e.g., Tax Notes Today or Daily Tax Report) may provide some topic ideas.


Select Journal

Become familiar with a wide variety of tax journals. Some are intended for tax professionals in general (e.g., Tax Adviser), while others are targeted to tax professionals in certain specialty areas (e.g., Journal of International Taxation). If you think your article might fit better in a non-tax journal, become familiar with those publications. Several accounting journals (e.g., CPA Journal) regularly publish tax articles.

Knowing what journals exist and the type of tax articles that normally appear in each will help you to select the best target journal. If the editor at your first journal choice does not accept your manuscript, you should be prepared to reformat and submit it to the next journal on your list.


Follow Guidelines

Manuscript submission guidelines may appear on a separate page toward the beginning or end of the journal issue. Some journals publish their guidelines in some, but not all, issues. Still other journals will mail or fax you a set of guidelines on request. If published guidelines are not available, format your manuscript like similar articles appearing in recent issues of your target journal.

Always follow journal guidelines meticulously. Pay particularly close attention to formatting details such as headings and subheadings, citations, and footnotes. Ask yourself questions such as the following:

  What types of citations appear in the article’s text? Which citations belong in footnotes? (Some journals require single citations to appear in the text, while citations to two or more sources are placed in footnotes.)

  How are sources of tax law cited? For example, is a statutory cite to section 61 written as IRC Sec. 61, §61, or in some other way?

  Are footnotes used only for citations, or are informational footnotes allowed also?

Polish Manuscript

Proofread and polish your writing until it is your best work. Ask a colleague to review it also. Failure to follow journal guidelines (as discussed above) and polish your writing is analogous to selling a used car without first cleaning and polishing it. Fewer buyers (editors) will be interested in it. All editors have experienced the frustration of rewriting (reformatting) a poorly-written (an incorrectly-formatted) manuscript. Some editors are willing to rewrite manuscripts that high-profile specialists, such as Tax Court judges and international tax experts, submit; they are less willing to rewrite and correctly format manuscripts for lesser-known authors.

In particular, minimize wordiness. Write in the active voice whenever practical. Punctuate sentences correctly.

Carefully preparing and polishing your manuscript takes time, but reformatting the manuscript for submission to another journal consumes additional time. The best policy is to format and polish your paper so well that it begs to be published. Editors may be more lenient toward manuscripts requiring little or no editing from them.


Submit Manuscript

Include a cover letter and title page with your manuscript. The cover letter simply requests a review of the enclosed manuscript for publication. Keep it short and to the point. For example, the body of your cover letter might read as follows:

  Please consider the enclosed manuscript, “Comprehensive Tax Planning for U.S. Multinationals,” for publication in the Corporate Business Taxation Monthly. The enclosed biographical sketch indicates my areas of interest and where I have previously published.
  I look forward to your decision.

The title page should include the manuscript’s title, the author’s name, and contact information (i.e., mailing address, phone, fax, and e-mail). The author’s name should not appear on the first page of the manuscript to facilitate a “blind review” in which the reviewer cannot identify the author. However, the title should be repeated at the top of the manuscript’s first page.

Finally, you might include a biographical sketch or resume as suggested in the example cover letter above. If the editor is unfamiliar with your work, a short summary including your employer, job title, and experience may suggest to the editor that you are knowledgeable about your topic. If accepted, the editor may wish to include a portion of your biography with the published article.

 

Before leaving this web site, please remember to complete the short “Exit Questionnaire.” Your responses to the questionnaire will help us to evaluate this site’s usefulness and make improvements. Thanks.