Now THIS is what I am talking about: meaningful research resources no larger than the palm of your hand that can travel with you wherever you go. You never know when you will need to consult the Bankruptcy Code, the Federal Rules of Evidence, Title VII or your local building codes. We are nudging closer and closer to truly portable information tailored to our specific needs. And what better delivery vector for that information than the iPhone?
I mentioned LawToGo’s Internal Revenue Code iPhone application in a prior post, but did not review it as I had not actually tried it. I do like those free apps and really have to have a pressing need to spend upwards of $5, let alone $14, on a phone application. Mike at Jade Nile, LLC, LawToGo’s creator, jumped to my rescue, offering a trial run with the formerly-weighty Code. Admittedly, I am not a tax practitioner, but I do occasionally have questions about tax matters, my most recent being the tax treatment of premiums paid for long-term care insurance. Even as a non-tax gal, I can definitely see the value in having a resource such as the IRC at my fingertips.
Mike explains that he is a technology and tax guy, who was inspired to create an application for the IRC. His desire stemmed from a need to be able to respond to unpredictable client calls or to settle a heated debate about the substance of the Code. His inspiration came from his trade-up from a Palm V to an iPhone.
LawToGo is simple and effective. It opens with a screenshot of the capital building, which I find quaintly amusing. The first screen after the Capital breaks down the Code into alphabetized headings, which are further broken down where appropriate, until you get to the section you are interested in.
The above shot is the first page you see after the Capital. The IRC button also takes you to this page. The search buttom allows you to search by section number, using a number scroll wheel similar to the one found in the Calendar app, or via simple boolean search operators: /# (distance between search terms), AND (or a space) and OR. Quotes around a phrase will yield the exact phrase. Search terms in your results will be highlighted in dayglow yellow (my highlighter color of choice).
Or you can simply drill down through the hierarchical sections of the Code by pressing on the desired subheadings. After passing through A. Income Taxes, 1. Normal Taxes and Surtaxes, A. Determination of Tax Liability, I. Tax On Individuals, and Sec 1. Tax Imposed, I ultimately reached the screen showing the relevant code section:
The screen scrolls to reveal the full text of the section and relevant charts.
In the above shot, you may notice right and left arrows on the bottom of the screen. Rather than backing out to the subheadings list, you can use the arrows to navigate to adjacent sections. Handy and quick!
The plus button allows you to add the section as a bookmark. The envelope allows you to email the section as the body text. The help button, obviously, offers help on how to use the portion of the program you happen to be at the time you press the button.You can view three screens / tabs at once including your search results and a bookmarked page.
Searching worked just as one would expect a boolean search to work. There was a delay of a few sections when pulling up the search results, but not a terribly annoying one.
The search screen will look familiar to any iPhone user and the results page looks like this:
Click on a result, and the highlighted search terms show as follows:
The application can be viewed in either portrait or landscape mode.
The obvious question I have, and I believe other potential purchasers also will have, is “what about updates?” The IRC is notorious for changing its stripes on a regular basis. According to the site, version 1.2 has the IRC up to December 31, 2008. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will be included in version 1.3, which will be sent as a free update to those already purchasing versions 1.0, 1.1, and 1.2. This statement does suggest that future updates may not, in fact, be free, which could push the cost of the app up over the long haul. The site does announce that Treasury regulations, 26 C.F.R., will be coming soon.
If you hit the jump above to LawToGo’s website, you can actually see a video of the application in action.
All in all, I find it to be a nice implementation of iPhone technology and application of that technology for the benefit of legal and financial professionals. If I practiced in this area or had a more than occasional need for the IRC, I would believe the $13.99 price tag well worth it.
But, in the spirit of telemarketer Billy Mays, I cannot resist the temptation to extend an offer that Studio readers cannot refuse: a coupon code for a free copy of LawToGo IRC! Such a bargain! I guarantee you will have fun tracking down your favorite (or perhaps not so favorite) Code sections. If you have an iPhone or iPod Touch, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will offer the coupon codes to the first three requests that I receive!