Department of the Treasury

Department of the Treasury in the United States

Introduction to Department of the Treasury

Department of the Treasury, an executive department of the United States federal government, responsible for handling the government’s fiscal affairs. It was established by the Congress of the United States in September 1789 as the successor to the Treasury Department created by the Congress of the Confederation in 1781. At its head is the secretary of the treasury, who is appointed by the president of the United States with the approval of the Senate and who is a member of the Cabinet.

The Treasury Department performs four basic functions: It formulates and recommends financial, economic, and tax policies; it serves as the government’s financial agent; it manufactures currency and coins; and it carries out certain law enforcement activities. The department’s business is handled by the Office of the Secretary and nine operating bureaus. The Treasury Department maintains field offices throughout the nation and in some foreign countries.

The Internal Revenue Service is the largest of the Treasury bureaus. It is responsible for collecting federal taxes and for enforcing federal tax laws. The Bureau of Engraving and Printing produces paper currency; Treasury securities such as notes, bills, and bonds; and postage and other stamps. The United States Mint produces and distributes both domestic and foreign coins, and it controls the processing and movement of bullion. The Bureau of the Public Debt is responsible for issuing and servicing Treasury bills, notes, and bonds. The bureau’s U.S. Savings Bonds Division promotes the sale of government savings bonds. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency provides general supervision of national banks, including periodic bank examinations to determine compliance with rules and regulations and soundness of bank operations.

The Financial Management Service is responsible for the central accounting of the monetary assets and liabilities of the U.S. Treasury and for the supervision of the government’s cash management program. The Office of Thrift Supervision (formerly the Federal Home Loan Bank Board) oversees the Federal Home Loan Bank System and the nation’s insured savings and loan associations. The Tax and Trade Bureau oversees regulation and taxation of the alcohol and tobacco industries. Finally, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network helps law enforcement agencies and financial institutions to prevent and detect money laundering.” (1)

Purpose of the Department of the Treasury

The Department of the Treasury is responsible for promoting economic prosperity and ensuring the soundness and security of the U.S. and international financial systems.

The Department operates and maintains systems that are critical to the nation’s financial infrastructure, such as the production of coin and currency, the disbursement of payments to the American public, the collection of taxes, and the borrowing of funds necessary to run the federal government. The Department works with other federal agencies, foreign governments, and international financial institutions to encourage global economic growth, raise standards of living, and, to the extent possible, predict and prevent economic and financial crises. The Treasury Department also performs a critical and far-reaching role in enhancing national security by improving the safeguards of our financial systems, implementing economic sanctions against foreign threats to the U.S., and identifying and targeting the financial support networks of national security threats.

The Secretary of the Treasury oversees a budget of approximately $13 billion and a staff of more than 100,000 employees.

Legal Materials

The Treasury Department web site ( provides information about the Department.

Bills, Bonds and Notes: See the separate entry for “United States Treasury Securities.”

Treasury Circulars: You can find selected Circulars on the Treasury’s Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Department Circulars page. Some Circulars are published in Title 31 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), but they don’t say “Treasury Circular” in the CFR, so you have to know the CFR Part or search for key words. I know a few cites (#176 is 31 CFR 202, #1075 is 31 CFR 205, and #230 is 31 CFR 10).

Some Circulars are posted by other agencies, including Circular #230, which is posted by the IRS, and Circular 570 is posted by the Finance Management Service. You can search for others with the search engine of your choice.

For question and Treasury materials not available elsewhere, call the Treasury Department library (202-622-0990).


The Department of the Treasury serves as financial agent for the U.S. Government, manufacturing coins and currency, enforcing financial laws, and recommending economic, tax, and ?scal policies. The Treasury Department was created by act of September 2, 1789 (31 U.S.C. 301 and 301 note). Many subsequent acts have figured in the development of the Department, delegating new duties to its charge and establishing the numerous bureaus and divisions that now comprise the Treasury.


As a major policy adviser to the President, the Secretary has primary responsibility for recommending domestic and international financial, economic, and tax policy; formulating broad ?scal policies that have general signi?cance for the economy; and managing the public debt. The Secretary also oversees the activities of the Department in carrying out its major law enforcement responsibility; in serving as the financial agent for the U.S. Government; and in manufacturing coins, currency, and other products for customer agencies. The Secretary also serves as the Government’s chief financial officer.


Economic Policy

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy assists policymakers in the determination of economic policies. The Office analyzes domestic and international economic issues and developments in the financial markets, assists in the development of official economic projections, and works closely with Federal Government agencies to develop economic forecasts underlying the yearly budget process.


The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Enforcement coordinates Treasury law enforcement matters, including the formulation of policies for Treasury enforcement activities, and cooperates on law enforcement matters with other Federal agencies. It oversees the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, charged with collecting excise taxes on alcoholic beverages and tobacco products; the Office of Financial Enforcement, assisting in implementing the Bank Secrecy Act and administering related Treasury regulations; and the Office of Foreign Assets Control, controlling assets in the United States of “blocked” countries and the flow of funds and trade to them. Financial Institutions The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Financial Institutions exercises policy direction and control over Department activities relating to the substance of proposed legislation pertaining to the general activities and regulation of private financial intermediaries and relating to other Federal regulatory agencies.

Fiscal Affairs

The Office of the Fiscal Assistant Secretary supervises the administration of the Government’s fiscal affairs. It manages the cash position of the Treasury and projects and monitors debt subject to limit; directs the performance of the fiscal agency functions of the Federal Reserve Banks; conducts Governmentwide accounting and cash management activities; exercises supervision over depositories of the United States; and provides management overview of investment practices for Government trusts and other accounts.

International Affairs

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for International Affairs advises and assists policymakers in the formulation and execution of policies dealing with international financial, economic, monetary, trade, investment, environmental, and energy policies and programs. The work of the Office is organized into groups responsible for monetary and financial policy; international development, debt, and environmental policy; trade and investment policy; economic and financial technical assistance; and geographical areas (Asia, the Americas, Africa, Eurasia, and Latin America). The staff offices performing these functions conduct financial diplomacy with industrial and developing nations and regions; work toward improving the structure and operations of the international monetary system; monitor developments in foreign exchange and other markets and of?cial operations affecting those markets; facilitate structural monetary cooperation through the International Monetary Fund and other channels; oversee U.S. participation in the multilateral development banks and coordinate U.S. policies and operations relating to bilateral and multilateral development lending programs and institutions; formulate policy concerning financing of trade; coordinate policies toward foreign investments in the United States and U.S. investments abroad; and analyze balance of payments and other basic financial and economic data, including energy data, affecting world payment patterns and the world economic outlook.

Tax Policy

The Office of the Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy advises and assists the Secretary and the Deputy Secretary in the formulation and execution of domestic and international tax policies and programs. These functions include analysis of proposed tax legislation and tax programs; projections of economic trends affecting tax bases; studies of effects of alternative tax measures; preparation of official estimates of Government receipts for the President’s annual budget messages; legal advice and analysis on domestic and international tax matters; assistance in the development and review of tax legislation and domestic and international tax regulations and rulings; and participation in international tax treaty negotiations and in maintenance of relations with international organizations on tax matters.

Treasurer of the United States

The Office of the Treasurer of the United States was established on September 6, 1777. The Treasurer was originally charged with the receipt and custody of Government funds, but many of these functions have been assumed by different bureaus of the Department of the Treasury. In 1981, the Treasurer was assigned responsibility for oversight of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the United States Mint. The Treasurer reports to the Secretary through the Assistant Secretary for Management/Chief Financial Officer.

Treasury Inspector General

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) was established in January 1999, in accordance with the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, to provide independent oversight of the Internal Revenue Service programs and activities. TIGTA is charged with monitoring the Nation’s tax laws to ensure that the IRS acts with ef?ciency, economy, and effectiveness toward program accomplishment; ensuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations, preventing, detecting, and deterring fraud, waste, and abuse; investigating activities or allegations related to fraud, waste, and abuse by IRS personnel; and protecting the IRS against attempts to corrupt or threaten its employees.

For further information concerning the departmental offices, contact the Public Affairs Offce of the Department of the Treasury, Washington, DC.

More Information

Budget 2010: $13,361 million
Enacted 2009: $12,685 million

The Budget provides $13.36 billion to support the Department of the Treasury’s mission to promote economic prosperity and the financial security of the United States while boosting effective management of the Department’s vast array of activities that are critical to the core functions of government, including collecting revenue and disbursing payments, managing federal finances, and protecting the financial system from threats. The budget supports the Administration’s new Financial Stability Plan as well as the management of the TARP, emphasizing effective, transparent, and accountable program management. The 2010 budget will also expand funding for effective IRS enforcement and invests in high return-on-investment activities that generate improved compliance and fairness in the application of tax laws. The Administration will pursue plans to improve the responsiveness and efficiency of taxpayer services to boost the accuracy of taxpayer filing and the quality of taxpayers’ experience. The budget will expand lending in underserved neighborhoods by more than doubling funding for the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund.


Supports the new Financial Stability Plan and the administration of the TARP. The budget supports the Administration’s new Financial Stability Plan as well as the management of the TARP, emphasizing effective, transparent, and accountable program management.

Collects taxes owed here and abroad. The scope, complexity, and sheer magnitude of the international financial system pose significant enforcement challenges for the IRS in carrying out its tax administration responsibilities. The 2010 Budget includes an increase of nearly $400 million for a robust portfolio of IRS international tax compliance initiatives, and sustains and improves IRS efforts to narrow the annual tax gap of more than $300 billion.


Improves IRS services to taxpayers. The Administration will pursue plans to improve the quality of taxpayers’ experience when they interact with the IRS. This strategy includes improving relationships with critical third-party stakeholders, such as tax preparers, volunteers and practitioners, as well as enhancing electronic filing capabilities. The end goal envisions an IRS that correctly answers a taxpayer’s question the first time asked, through the most efficient and taxpayer-friendly means.


Expands lending in disadvantaged communities. The Budget expands lending in underserved neighborhoods by more than doubling funding for the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund, including $80 million to provide initial funding for the Capital Magnet Fund authorized last summer that will further leverage non-federal investments in economic development and affordable housing. Through merit-based grant programs, the CDFI Fund helps locally based financial institutions offer small business, consumer, and home loans in communities and populations that lack access to affordable credit.

Finding the law: Department of the Treasury in the U.S. Code

A collection of general and permanent laws relating to department of the treasury, passed by the United States Congress, are organized by subject matter arrangements in the United States Code (U.S.C.; this label examines department of the treasury topics), to make them easy to use (usually, organized by legal areas into Titles, Chapters and Sections). The platform provides introductory material to the U.S. Code, and cross references to case law. View the U.S. Code’s table of contents here.

Department of the Treasury

In Legislation

Department of the Treasury in the U.S. Code: Title 31, Subtitle I, Chapter 3

The current, permanent, in-force federal laws regulating department of the treasury are compiled in the United States Code under Title 31, Subtitle I, Chapter 3. It constitutes “prima facie” evidence of statutes relating to Finance (including department of the treasury) of the United States. The reader can further narrow his/her legal research of the general topic (in this case, Money and Public Finance and Department of The Treasury of the US Code, including department of the treasury) by chapter and subchapter.


Notes and References

See Also

Federal Reserve System
Internal Revenue Service
National Debt
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
Office of Thrift Supervision
United States Treasury Securities

In this Section

Federal Departments, Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense (including Department of Defense Purpose, Department of Defense Organization, Department of Defense Liaison of Command and Department of Defense Supporting Agencies), Department of Education, Department of Energy (including Department of Energy Purpose, Department of Energy Organization and Department of Energy Research and Development), Department of Health and Human Services (including Department of Health and Human Services History and Department of Health and Human Services Agencies and Services), Department of Homeland Security (including Department of Homeland Security Organization and Functions, Department of Homeland Security Origins and Department of Homeland Security Supporting Agencies), Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice (including Department of Justice Functions, Department of Justice Structure and Department of Justice Associated Agencies), Department of Labor, Department of National Defence, Department of State (including Department of State Administration and Department of State Bureaus), Department of the Air Force, Department of the Army, Department of the Interior (including Department of the Interior Functions and Department of the Interior Principal Agencies), Department of the Navy, Department of the Treasury, Department of Transportation, Department of Veterans Affairs (including the Department of Veterans Affairs Service Categories, Department of Veterans Affairs Benefits Available and GI Bill of Rights) and Department of War.