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ASSISTANT SECRETARIES OF THE TREASURY FOR TAX POLICY, 1961 TO PRESENT
Stanley S. Surrey
Charles M. Walker
John E. Chapoton
1989 to 1992
Fred T. Goldberg
1992 to 1992
TAX ADMINISTRATION-STRUCTURE OF THE INTERNAL REVENUE
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is responsible for the administration of most Federal tax laws. The IRS is structured into three organizational levels; national headquarters, regional offices, and district offices.
The national headquarters, as its name implies, establishes overall administrative policies. Regulations and other administrative guidance to the tax laws (such as revenue rulings, revenue procedures, private letter rulings, and technical advice memoranda) are developed and issued at this level. The seven regional offices oversee and coordinate the operations of the district offices. They are: Central which covers Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and West Virginia and is located in Cincinnati;
Mid-Atlantic which covers Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia and is located in Philadelphia;
Midwest which covers Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin and is located in Chicago;
North-Atlantic which covers Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont and is located in New York City;
Southeast which covers Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee and is located in Atlanta;
Southwest which covers Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming and is located in Dallas; and
Western which covers Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington and is located in San Francisco. The regional offices also oversee the service centers located in their regions. Ten such centers act primarily to process tax returns,
certify refunds, and cooperate with the district offices in the examination of tax returns and the collection process.
The district office level has the most contact with the general public. It is at the district office level where most taxpayer assistance is available. The district offices are responsible for the examination of returns, audits, collection of delinquent taxes, and criminal and civil tax investigations. There are 62 district offices, with at least 1 in each State.
ROLE OF CHIEF COUNSEL
The Chief Counsel of the IRS represents the Commissioner in cases filed with the U.S. Tax Court, advises the Department of Justice of the basis for the IRS position in other tax litigation, and provides legal advice to IRS personnel. Counsel prepares revenue rulings, procedures, and regulations to guide the IRS and the public on interpretations of the Internal Revenue Code. The Chief Counsel of the IRS is also an Assistant General Counsel of the Treasury Department, and as such reports to the General Counsel. In the last 10 years, the office of Chief Counsel has been filled by N. Jerold Cohen (1979-1981); Kenneth W. Gideon (1981-1984); Fred T. Goldberg, Jr., (1984-1986); William F. Nelson (1986-1990); and Abraham N. M. Shashy(1990-1993); vacant (currently).
ROLE OF THE COMMISSIONER OF INTERNAL REVENUE
The Commissioner serves as chief executive officer of the Internal Revenue Service. The Commissioner is responsible for establishing tax administration policy and developing strategic issues and objectives for strategic management of the IRS. As such, the Commissioner is responsible for overall planning, and directing, coordinating and controlling the policies and programs of the IRS. He directly supervises the Deputy Commissioner and Chief Inspector. The Commissioner is the principal spokesperson for the IRS with other executive branch agencies, the Congress, other tax authorities, and the public.
COMMISSIONERS OF THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE-1862 TO PRESENT
George S. Boutwell
Dec. 31, 1897
March 20, 1885
Feb. 28, 1899
May 27, 1921
Nov. 18, 1952
Dec. 5, 1955
Sept. 30, 1958
Nov. 5, 1958
Feb. 7, 1961
Mortimer M. Caplin
Jan. 25, 1965
July 10, 1964
Jan. 19, 1993
REGULATION AND RULEMAKING PROCESS IN THE TREASURY
Congress enacts the Federal tax laws of the United States. While these laws can be quite detailed, others may only present a broad outline of statutory rules. This outline must be filled in by rules, regulations, and interpretations so that the tax laws may be applied and administered uniformly, effectively, and fairly to the myriad of specific transactions which are subject to such laws. The Secretary of the Treasury has general statutory authority under section 7805 of the Internal Revenue Codeto issue rules and regulations which may be needed for the administration of the laws. Also, many sections of the Internal Revenue Code require the Secretary
to issue regulations to carry out the provisions of the particular section.
The Secretary carries out this responsibility, usually through the Internal Revenue Service, by issuing various types of interpretations which range from general guidance (such as regulations, revenue rulings, revenue procedures, tax returns and instructions, and IRS publications) to guidance for specific individuals or situations (such as private letter rulings, technical advice memoranda, and determination letters).
Regulations are official interpretations and explanations of Internal Revenue Code provisions. They must be signed by the Secretary and the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, and published in the Federal Register. A regulation is typically first published as a proposed regulation. The proposed regulation is published in the Federal Register. This is followed by a comment period in which hearings are commonly held and comments and suggestions solicited. Amendments may be made in response to the comments. Ultimately, a final regulation is published in the Federal Register. Final regulations are codified in title 26 of the Code of Federal Regulations. It is this codified version of the Treasury decisions that is commonly referred to as the IRS regulations.
Treasury regulations are subject to review by the courts. Regulations are not the law, but they are given the force and effect of law if they are found to be consistent with the reasonable interpretation of the underlying statutes. The Internal Revenue Service is bound by these decisions and so may not challenge them in court.
Instead of first issuing a proposed regulation, in the case of some tax provisions, Treasury may instead choose to issue a temporary regulation. Temporary regulations are published in the Federal Register without a hearing or comment period. Unlike proposed regulations, temporary regulations are binding on the Government and taxpayers immediately upon publication. Temporary regulations are used when it is deemed necessary to provide taxpayers immediate certainty with respect to recently enacted tax legislation. While immediately effective, temporary regulations also serve as proposed regulations, since a comment period follows their publication. Temporary regulations are binding for 3 years after publication, or, if sooner, until the issuance of final regulations.
Revenue rulings (Rev. Ruls.) are interpretations of the Internal Revenue Code prepared by the national office of the Internal Revenue Service. They are published weekly in the Internal Revenue Bulletin and compiled yearly in the Cumulative Bulletin.
These rulings are presented in the context of a hypothetical fact situation (or situations), to demonstrate how applicable Code provisions, regulations and other revenue rulings will be applied. Such rulings are of value as precedent, although the Code and/or regulations are controlling if there is a conflict.
Revenue Procedures (Rev. Procs.) are internal practices and procedures of the Internal Revenue Service. Like revenue rulings, they are published weekly in the Internal Revenue Bulletin and compiled yearly in the Cumulative Bulletin. While the procedures are for internal use, some of them do give guidance on subjects of interest to taxpayers, such as how the IRS will apply certain accounting rules, or how different types of depreciation should be calculated.
Private Letter Rulings
Private letter rulings are given in response to a request by a taxpayer for the IRS's view of the tax consequences of a contemplated transaction. Letter rulings are similar to revenue rulings in that the national office of the IRS issues a ruling that applies the Code, regulations, and revenue rulings to a specific fact situation. Letter rulings are distinguished from revenue rulings in the limited scope of their application. A private ruling is requested by an individual taxpayer, who supplies the fact situation. A private ruling is binding on the IRS only with respect to the facts supplied by the taxpayer as they affect that particular taxpayer. Revenue rulings, by contrast, generally provide reliance for all similarly situated taxpayers.Private rulings are not officially published, although they may be obtained (with taxpayer-specific information expurgated) through the Freedom of Information Act and are published by some commercial publishers.
TECHNICAL ADVICE MEMORANDA
A technical advice memorandum is, in effect, an after-the-fact private letter ruling. If, during the course of a tax proceeding, a question arises that cannot be answered on the local level, a ruling may be requested from the national office of the IRS. The advice sought concerns a transaction that has already occurred, in distinction to the future transaction contemplated by the private letter ruling. Technical advice memoranda are not officially published, although they may also be obtained (with taxpayer specific information expurgated) through the Freedom of Information Act and are published by some commercial publishers.
Determination letters are essentially private letter rulings issued at the district office level. These determination letters are usually sought to confirm the tax favored (or "qualified") status of pension plans and tax-exempt organizations. Determination letters are not officially published, although they may be obtained through the Freedom of Information Act.
Technical memoranda (TM's) are legal memoranda by the Chief Counsel's office which are written to accompany proposed regulations. The memoranda explain the background of and the need for the proposal and then summarize the proposal. Technical memoranda are not officially published, although they may be obtained