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US Department of the Treasury


US Department of the Treasury

Department of the Treasury
Seal of the U.S. Department of the Treasury
Flag of the U.S. Department of the Treasury
Agency overview
Formed September 2, 1789 (1789-09-02) (224 years ago)
Preceding Agency Board of Treasury
Jurisdiction Federal government of the United States

Treasury Building
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C.
38°53′54″N 77°2′3″W / 38.89833°N 77.03417°W / 38.89833; -77.03417

Employees 115,897 (2007)
Annual budget $14 billion (2013) PDF
Agency executives Jacob Lew, Secretary
Neal S. Wolin, Deputy Secretary
Rosa Gumataotao Rios, Treasurer
Child agencies Internal Revenue Service
United States Mint
Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Several others

The Department of the Treasury is an executive department and the treasury of the United States federal government. It was established by an Act of Congress in 1789 to manage government revenue. The Department is administered by the Secretary of the Treasury, who is a member of the Cabinet. Jack Lew is the current Secretary of the Treasury; he was sworn in on February 28, 2013.

The first Secretary of the Treasury was Alexander Hamilton, who was sworn into office on September 11, 1789. Hamilton was asked by President George Washington to serve after first having asked Robert Morris (who declined, recommending Hamilton instead). Hamilton almost single-handedly worked out the nation's early financial system, and for several years was a major presence in Washington's administration as well. His portrait is on the obverse of the U.S. ten-dollar bill while the Treasury Department building is shown on the reverse.

Besides the Secretary, one of the best-known Treasury officials is the Treasurer of the United States whose signature, along with the Treasury Secretary's, appears on all Federal Reserve notes.

The Treasury prints and mints all paper currency and coins in circulation through the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the United States Mint. The Department also collects all federal taxes through the Internal Revenue Service, and manages U.S. government debt instruments.


The establishing act of congress, passed in 1789, read in part,


The current law, § 301, reads as follows (in part):


President George Washington appointed Alexander Hamilton as the first United States Secretary of the Treasury on September 11, 1789. He left office on the last day of January 1795. Much of the structure of the government of the United States was worked out in those five years, beginning with the structure and function of the cabinet itself.

In the next two years, Hamilton submitted five reports:

2003 reorganization

Congress transferred several agencies that had previously been under the aegis of the Treasury department to other departments as a consequence of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Effective January 24, 2003, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), which had been a bureau of the Department since 1972, was extensively reorganized under the provisions of the Homeland Security Act of 2002. The law enforcement functions of ATF, including the regulation of legitimate traffic in firearms and explosives, were transferred to the Department of Justice as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE). The regulatory and tax collection functions of ATF related to legitimate traffic in alcohol and tobacco remained with the Treasury at its new Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).

Effective March 1, 2003, the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, the United States Customs Service, and the United States Secret Service were transferred to the newly created Department of Homeland Security ("DHS").


The basic functions of the Department of the Treasury mainly include:[1]

  • Producing all currency, coinage and postage stamps of the U.S.;
  • Collecting taxes, duties and money paid to and due to the U.S.:
  • Paying all bills of the U.S.;
  • Managing the federal finances;
  • Managing government accounts and the United States public debt;
  • Supervising national banks and thrift institutions;
  • Advising on domestic and international financial, monetary, economic, trade and tax policy (fiscal policy being the sum of these, and the ultimate responsibility of Congress);
  • Enforcing federal finance and tax laws;
  • Investigating and prosecuting tax evaders;
  • Publishing statistical reports.

With respect to the estimation of revenues for the executive branch, Treasury serves a purpose parallel to that of the Office of Management and Budget for the estimation of spending for the executive branch, the Joint Committee on Taxation for the estimation of revenues for Congress, and the Congressional Budget Office for the estimation of spending for Congress.

From 1830 until 1901, the responsibility of overseeing weights and measures was carried out by the Office of Standard Weights and Measures, which was part of the U.S. Treasury Department.[2] After 1901, the responsibility was assigned to the agency that subsequently became known as the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

Administrative materials

As part of its administration of Federal tax, the Treasury issues a wide range of documents providing its interpretation of the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), which each document having a varying level of weight for which the tax payer may rely:

  • Treasury Regulations reflect the Treasury's interpretation of the IRC, may be promulgated by the Secretary of the Treasury, and when final they have "force of law" status. Congress can sometimes carve out areas in which the Treasury can actually make, not just interpret, the rules.[3]
  • Revenue Rulings are issued under the same statutory authority as regulations, but generally are just a response to a taxpayer's question about their own tax liability. Published Revenue Rulings are released in the weekly Internal Revenue Bulletin and again in the semi-annual Cumulative Bulletin; they do not have the force or effect of regulations, but nonetheless may be cited and used by the public. Private Letter Rulings are also the IRS' response to a specific taxpayer's question regarding the tax consequences of a particular transaction and can be made public upon request. Although they may not be relied on by anyone other than the taxpayer that requested it, they are still useful for tax planning purposes.
  • A Revenue Procedure is a statement of the Treasury's practice and procedures, and generally deals with a broad subject area.


The Office of the General Counsel is charged with supervising all legal proceedings involving the collection of debts due the United States, establishing regulations to guide customs collectors, issuing distress warrants against delinquent revenue collectors or receivers of public money, examining Treasury officers' official bonds and related legal documents, serving as legal adviser to the department and administered lands acquired by the United States in payment for debts. This office was preceded by the offices of the Comptroller of the Treasury (1789–1817), First Comptroller of the Treasury (1817–20), Agent of the Treasury (1820–30), and Solicitor of the Treasury 1830–1934.

See also

Notes and references

External links

  • Proposed and final federal regulations from the Department Of The Treasury
  • Map of Major Foreign Holders Of Treasury Securities 2009
  • The Washington Post
  • Annual Reports of the Secretary of the Treasury on the State of Finances – These annual reports also contain the reports of the many departments of the Treasury, including the Bureau of the Mint, Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Bureau of Customs, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Secret Service, and the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Wayback Machine (archived December 26, 1996)
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