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History, Duties and Functions

What are the duties and functions of the Treasury Department?

The Treasury Department includes the Office of the Secretary and the Departmental Offices. This is where all of the policy-making offices are found. Each office has an Assistant Secretary directly responsible for its activities. In addition, there are many bureaus with different responsibilities. We have available on line a brief description of each bureau's functions. You can also find out more detailed information by visiting any of the Bureau Home Pages.

For instance, the Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP) makes our paper currency and the United States Mint produces our coins. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) collects income taxes and other forms of Federal Government revenue. Maintaining the Federal Government's accounts is the job of the Financial Management Service (FMS). Processing the sale and redemption of Treasury bonds, notes and bills is the responsibility of the Bureau of the Public Debt. Finally, the Treasury must oversee and regulate savings institutions and National banks. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS) each handle these tasks.


What do the symbols on the Treasury Seal mean?

We have information available on-line that will tell you about the history of the present Treasury Seal and its predecessor. It will also explain the symbolism of the Seal's various components.


Why was the United States Secret Service a part of the Treasury Department?

During the Civil War, approximately one-third of all the currency in circulation was counterfeit. There were then about 1,600 state banks designing and printing their own notes. There were approximately 4,000 varieties of counterfeit notes and 7,000 varieties of genuine notes. This made it difficult to detect a counterfeit note from a genuine note. Officials believed that the adoption of a national currency in 1863 would solve the counterfeiting problem. The national currency, too, was soon counterfeited. It became necessary for the Government to take enforcement measures because this currency circulated so extensively. As a result, the Secret Service became a bureau of the Treasury Department on July 5, 1865, with its major responsibility being the suppression of counterfeiting.

Public sentiment after the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901 demanded better protection of our leaders. The Secret Service was the only law enforcement agency of the Federal Government then. That is why it was logical to place the protection of the President under its jurisdiction. This important mission officially became a permanent responsibility of the Secret Service in 1906. The duties of the Secret Service now also include protecting various other important individuals.

In March 2003, the United States Secret Service (USSS) moved to the Department of Homeland Security and is no longer a bureau of the Department of the Treasury.


When was the Internal Revenue Service created and what law established it? 

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is a division of the Treasury Department. On July 1, 1862, Congress passed a law (12 Stat. 432; 26 U.S.C. 7802) establishing it as the Bureau of Internal Revenue. In 1953 following a reorganization of its function, its name became the Internal Revenue Service. The new name was chosen to stress the service aspect of the work it does. The IRS is responsible for administering and enforcing the Internal Revenue laws and related statutes, except those relating to alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives.

 
Last Updated: 1/4/2011 2:33 PM

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