Data from the IRS Statistics of Income


Some of the information in this post may be out of date. Please speak to a librarian for more up to date information. 

Most people are unaware of an office within the IRS called Statistical Information Services (SIS), an office with a mandate to facilitate the dissemination of data collected by the Statistics of Income (SOI) program.  SOI collects, tabulates and publishes IRS data used “to analyze tax policy, project tax revenues, and estimate the overall impact of tax law changes and their effects on tax collections”.  How tax data is captured, sampled, weighted and analyzed is explained on a page titled The Work SOI Does.  Data is aggregated and includes, but is not limit to, data on:

  • individual tax studies (sources of income, exemptions, deductions, taxable income, etc.)
  • sole proprietorships by industry, business receipts, deductions, and net income
  • tax analysis of high income tax returns
  • corporate (including S-corporations) taxation classified by industries, accounting periods, and size of assets, receipts, and income taxes after credits
  • aspects of investment and activity in the United States by foreign persons

Various products (some free and some for a minimal fee) are available through the SOI site.  One of the more popular publications is the SOI Bulletin, a quarterly newsletter with featured articles from analysts studying a particular tax topic.  The spring issues (e.g.,  Spring 2012) of this newsletter includes selected historical and other data tables also available at  And index of SOI Bulletin articles is available by topic.  Additional products include individual income tax zip code data available in Excel tables for 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 that can be purchased for $25 per state or $500 for the entire United States.  County income data is available for tax years 1989 through 2006 for $50 per year for the entire United States and $10 per year per state.  The page SOI Projects, Contacts, and Public Release Information gives contact information for the Statistical Information Services office and the name of each analyst assigned to a particular project (e.g., corporation income tax returns or estate tax returns).

To learn more about the IRS Statistics of Income data and products, ask a reference librarian!


Why Use Morningstar Investment Research Center?


Some of the information in this post may be out of date. Please speak to a librarian for more up to date information. 

Morningstar is synonymous with mutual fund research for many students; however, there is much more that mutual fund data available in the Morningstar Investment Research Center.  Here is some content you might have overlooked:

Great Financial Educational Material
Whether you prefer to learn by reading or by watching and listening to videos, Morningstar will provide you with an education on how to get the maximum use out of the database’s content while also explaining the basics of stocks, options, ETFs, closed-end funds and portfolio management.  Clear explanations of these various financial instruments are provided, along with a discussion of the advantages and disadvantages of using each instrument in your investment portfolio.  Much of the learning content is found under the Help & Education tab, but also take a look at the Articles & Videos tab for information on specific topics of interest (example: a video on Where to Invest Your Tax Refund Check or a special report on’s Tax Wise Investing Week), and the Portfolio tab to learn the basics about asset allocation and how to develop your investment goals.

Company Financial Data & Analyst Reports
Morningstar is useful for classes ranging from basic accounting to portfolio management, since it provides comprehensive data and analysis on individual companies as well as mutual funds.  The Company tab provides 10 year of ratios and financial data (income statement, balance sheet, and cash flow statement) that can be downloaded into Excel.  Users can also access the Morningstar analyst report on the stock, the current price and performance, transcripts of comment on quarterly earnings, institutional and insider holdings and bond and option reports.  Look under the quote subtab to find a stock’s comparison to its industry peers.

Market Returns Tracking
Morningstar makes it easy to track and compare returns on indexes, sectors, industries, and fund categories.  1 and 3 month, YTD, and 1, 3, and 5 year returns are given.   Select your investment category under the Markets tab to get desired returns.

The Portfolio X-Ray Feature
With this neat feature listed under the Portfolio tab users can uncover their portfolio risk and discover how their securities are working together.  Put in the dollar or percent breakdown of holdings in a portfolio, and select the Equal Allocation tab to equally weight the portfolio holdings.

The User’s Guide elaborates on these and other features of the database.  Morningstar also hosts monthly database training sessions users can take advantage of to learn more.   For  more questions about the database and its content, Ask a Reference Librarian!

Ad Age Datacenter for Advertising Spending Data


Some of the information in this post may be out of date. Please speak to a librarian for more up to date information. 

Working on an advertising/marketing paper and need to find what a particular company spent on advertising using different forms of media?  The Ad Age DataCenter is the sourse you need to use.  This unique database of advertising data is a subscription section of the broader Advertising Age magazine website.  A reference librarian will need to password you in to this source, so ask a librarian at the reference desk to get you started.

Data on Advertisers
The 100 Leading National Advertisers: 2011 is an Ad Age annual ranking of the 100 largest U.S. advertising spenders.  Marketer Family Trees 2011 link contains more data on these individual companies.  Select to expand the information on your company of interest to view the company’s U.S. ad spending for 2010 and 2009 and the percentage increase or decrease of spending.  Spending will be broken down to show dollars spent on different media, including magazines, newspaper, network T.V., cable T.V., local radio, network radio, internet, etc.  The company’s worldwide sales revenue and geographic and division sales are also available to view.  The U.S. Market Leaders link displays leading U.S. advertising spenders by market group (auto, retail, personal care, and household-product) and each company’s measured media dollars of spending (in mil), its market share, and the percentage increase or decrease in spending from 2009 to 2010.  Many other rankings are shown, including the Top 10 Advertisers in Eight Media, the Media Spending of the 200 Largest Megabrands, and more. The Global Marketers 2011 link contains a ranking of the 100 largest global marketers by measured media spending.  Users can also view the total amount a company spent on advertising in various regions of the world.

Data on Agencies
Investigate this section of the site if you are looking for a job in advertising.  The agency rankings include links to the World’s Largest Agency Companies, the Largest U.S. Agencies from All Disciplines (900 plus agencies), and Agencies by Specialty and Multicultural Agencies.  Each entry includes fast facts, information on the agencies services, the name of the CEO, and contact information, including the website.

For more on how to access of use this rich source of advertising data and information, ask a reference librarian!

Locating International Business Regulations


Some of the information in this post may be out of date. Please speak to a librarian for more up to date information. 

The reality of global business competition makes the regulatory environment in each country particularly relevant for businesses seeking new markets.  Businesspeople and students researching a country’s business regulations now have subscription and free sources available to them that make it easy to get a basic understanding of a particular country’s regulatory laws.  A couple favorite sources include the EIU Country Commerce, a subscription database, and the Doing Business site developed by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) of the World Bank.

Economist Intelligence Unit
The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) is a prolific and well-regarded publisher of country economic and market data and information.  The Country Commerce library database is a repository of information intended for business people opening a new business or a subsidiary in a foreign country who need information on the country’s legal environment.  Select your country from a list of countries provided and then select the latest main report available.  Reports for each country are in a standardized format that includes, but is not limited to, information on the regulatory environment, human resources, corporate taxes, personal taxes, competition policy, trade policy, and intellectual property and e-commerce.  Charts of data are included and listed in the table of contents for easy access.

Doing Business: Measuring Business Regulations
This free site from the IFC and World Bank has developed and improved over the past several years, and has become one of the best sources of free information to determine the ease or difficulty of doing business in 183 countries.   Coverage for individual countries is available in print and electronic formats, as is a ranking of the ease of doing in business in selected or all countries.  A Law Library section of the site provides what it claims is “the largest free online collection of business laws and regulations.”  The site is easy to navigate and provides options for selecting specific sections of each country’s laws and regulations.  A sampling of available laws includes banking and credit, bankruptcy, civil codes, commercial and company laws, labor and tax laws.

Additional sources subscription sources for international business and regulatory law include the Martindale-Hubbell International Law Digest .  Additional free internet sites with information include Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute  National Law Library, the American Society of International Law EISIL research tool, the Washburn University School of Law foreign law page, and the law and government resources by country.

Need more help finding international regulatory law?  Ask a reference librarian…we’re always glad to help!

The Tax History Project: A History of Taxes in the U.S.


Some of the information in this post may be out of date. Please speak to a librarian for more up to date information. 

The time is near when even the worst of procrastinators will file their tax returns, many of which will be accompanied by a large check.  The Internal Revenue Service website, at, makes filing free, easy and simple for anyone with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $57,000 or less.  The site also provides pdf copies of many tax forms with instructions and links to state offices.  What the IRS site doesn’t provide you with is a history of how we all got where we are today.  Why do we pay taxes?  Did the Founding Fathers agree on ideas related to taxing citizens?   What were tax rates in colonial America and did all citizens pay taxes?  Try the following sources to answer these and other questions you might have about the history behind that predictable, unavoidable and inescapable ritual known as paying your taxes.

The Tax History Project
A site from Tax Analysts, a non-profit tax publisher known for its publications Tax Notes and Tax Notes Today, and its international publications Tax Notes International Weekly News and Worldwide Tax Daily.   Tax Analysts’ mission is to “provide the latest and most in-depth tax information worldwide,” but they also have an educational mission of teaching the public more about the tax system.  The Tax History Project does an excellent job of fulfilling this mission by achieving its goal to “provide scholars, policymakers, students, the media and citizens with information about the history of American taxation.”  The site contains everything from copies of recent presidential tax returns to a tax history museum  displaying a timeline showing important developments in taxation from 1660 on to a section titled Taxing Federalism that displays excerpts from the Federalist Papers where authors Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay argue in defense of a strong central government with unlimited taxing powers.  An interesting image display on the site includes U.S. 1040 forms from 1913-2006.

The history of taxation has probably not been given its fair due in the academic literature; however, the following books cover the topic and provide fascinating reads on its different aspects and periods:
Contemporary U.S. Tax Policy by C. Eugene Steuerle.
Federal Taxation in America: A Short History by W. Elliot Brownlee.
The Great Tax Wars: Lincoln to Wilson, the Fierce Battles over Money and Power… by Steven R. Weisman
Taxation in Colonial America by Alvin Rabushka.

For help finding these or other sources on the history of taxation in America, Ask a Reference Librarian!

5 Reasons to Bookmark the WSJ Small Business Site


Some of the information in this post may be out of date. Please speak to a librarian for more up to date information. 

Anyone involved with small business–entrepreneurs, business students and researchers, or small business owners–should take time to bookmark the Wall Street Journal’s Small Business site.  Why?  Try the following 5 good reasons:

The Start-Up Calculator
There are a number of start-up calculators available on the web, but none I’ve found do as good a job as this one on estimating the true cost of starting a business.  No entrepreneur wants to find themselves short on cash.  This calculator will help prevent a cash crunch.

The Free On Small Business Podcasts
Want to learn more about what experts have to say about topics on starting and running a business, but feel as if you have no time to keep up on it all?  Subscribe free to the WSJ On Small Business podcasts and you’ll get this advice on a variety of topics from experts writing in the WSJ and Startup Journal.

The How-To Guides
These practical guides (written and video) offer free instruction on funding, technology, franchising, starting and running a business, hiring and managing employees, and buying and selling a business.  Examples of topics covered include How to Form an LLC, How to Shop for a Bank, How to Select a Franchise, and How to Hire Your First Employees.

The How I Built It Series
A great series offering first person stories on how entrepreneurs started their company and/or dealt with a problem.  Current postings have presented stories from founders of Dropbox, Pandora Media and Rebecca Minkoff, LLC.

The Community Polls
Voice your opinion on different questions posed on topics related to small business and then read over how the votes add up. Find out how voters responded to the most recent question on can entrepreneurship be taught?

Ask a reference librarian for more sources of information on entrepreneurship and small business or visit the Entrepreneurship Subject Guide.

Sources for Competitive Data


Some of the information in this post may be out of date. Please speak to a librarian for more up to date information. 

If you’re doing a paper requiring a competitive analysis and you need to find data on leading competitors operating in the same industry, 2 databases–Mergent Horizon and Mergent Online –provide quick and easy ways to locate the data you need.  Mergent Horizon provides comprehensive coverage for over 6,200 companies traded on the NYSE, NASDAQ and AMEX and has the ability to display the relationships between a company’s major customers, suppliers and partners; analyze data for sector aggregates as well as individual companies; and screen companies with hundreds of quantitative and qualitative fields.  The Mergent Horizon Quick User Guide  explains how to run specific searches in the database.  Mergent Online provides a searchable database of 15,000 U.S. public companies (active and inactive) and 20,000 non-U.S. companies (active and inactive).

If you have selected specific companies to compare, and you need standardized data comparisons, try LexisNexis Academic database.  Select the Companies tab and the Dossier Compare Companies link.  Type in up to 5 competing companies at the landing page search box, and then select the red Compare button to display a comparison of balance sheet, income statement, and ratio data.  To view data comparisons on a list of companies operating within the same industry, select the grey Industry tab and type in an industry keyword or SIC code identifier.  Next, select the red Find button.  The landing page will display an industry overview and data comparisons of net sales, total assets, liabilities, cost of goods sold, and leading ratios.

For help locating more sources of competitive data or to learn more about the features of these databases, ask a reference librarian!