Internal Revenue Service

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Internal Revenue Service
Founded 1862
Headquarters Washington, D.C.
Products Tax administrator for the United States
Web site

The IRS is a division of the Department of the Treasury and one of the world's most efficient tax administrators. In 2004, the IRS collected more than $2 trillion in revenue and processed more than 224 million tax returns.[1]

The IRS is responsible for administering and enforcing the Internal Revenue laws and related statutes, except those relating to alcohol, tobacco, firearms, and explosives.[2]


Congress passed a law establishing the Bureau of Internal Revenue on July 1, 1862. It also created the position of commissioner of Internal Revenue and enacted an income tax to pay war expenses. The income tax was repealed 10 years later. Congress revived the income tax in 1894, but the Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional the following year.

In 1953 the agency was reorganized to replace a patronage system with career, professional employees, and its name was changed to the Internal Revenue Service.

Only the IRS commissioner and chief counsel are selected by the president and confirmed by the Senate.

The IRS began using electronic filing systems in 1991 to reduce paper usage and decrease operating costs of the organization.

The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 prompted the most dramatic reorganization and modernization of IRS in nearly half a century. The IRS reorganized itself to closely resemble the private sector model of organizing around customers with similar needs.

The IRS launched the Electronic Installment Agreement in 2002 to give taxpayers the ability to pay their bills online. In 2006, this was renamed the Online Payment Agreement. In 2011, the IRS launched a mobile app. In 2013 the IRS and the Bureau of Fiscal Service launched a web application that allowed taxpayers to pay Federal taxes online.[3][4]

Key People

To support its structure and ensure accountability, the IRS is divided into three commissioner-level organizations:[5]

Commissioner: Specialized IRS units report directly to the Commissioner’s office. The IRS Chief Counsel also reports to the Treasury General Counsel on certain matters.

  • Commissioner, Internal Revenue, Charles P. Rettig
  • Chief of Staff, Lia Colbert
  • IRS Chief Counsel, Michael J. Desmond
  • Appeals, Donna Hansberry, Chief
  • Taxpayer Advocate Service, Bridget Roberts (National Taxpayer Advocate) (Acting)
  • Communications and Liaison, Terry Lemons (Chief)

Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement: The Deputy Commissioner reports directly to the Commissioner and oversees the four primary operating divisions and other service and enforcement functions:

  • Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement, Sunita Lough
  • Wage and Investment Division, Ken Corbin (Commissioner)
  • Large and Mid-Size Business Division, Douglas O'Donnell (Commissioner)
  • Small Business/Self Employed Division, Eric Hylton (Commissioner)
  • Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division, Tamera Ripperda (Commissioner)
  • Criminal Investigation, Don Fort (Chief)
  • Return Preparer Office, Carol Campbell, Director
  • Office of Professional Responsibility, Elizabeth Kastenberg (Acting Director)
  • Whistleblower Office, Lee Martin (Director)

Deputy Commissioner for Operations Support: The Deputy Commissioner reports directly to the Commissioner and oversees the integrated IRS support functions, facilitating economy of scale efficiencies and better business practices:

  • Deputy Commissioner for Operations Support, Jeff Tribiano
  • Chief Information Officer, Nancy Sieger
  • Chief Facilities Management and Security Service, Richard Rodriguez
  • Chief Research and Analytics Officer, Barry Johnson (Acting)
  • Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Elita Christiansen, Executive Director
  • Chief Human Capital Officer, Robin D. Bailey, Jr.
  • Chief Financial Office, Ursula Gillis
  • Chief Privacy Officer, Edward Killen
  • Chief Procurement Officer, Shanna Webbers
  • Chief Risk Officer, Thomas Brandt


  • In early 2009, the Treasury inspector general for tax administration said an IRS effort to flush out wealthy investors in abusive tax shelters had fallen short. Specifically, the report involved what was known as "Son of Boss," one of the most sophisticated and widely used abusive tax shelters of the late 1990s through recent years.[6]


  1. The Agency, its Mission and Statutory Authority. Internal Revenue Service.
  2. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).
  3. IRS History Timeline. Internal Revenue Service.
  4. The History of the Federal Income Tax.
  5. Today's IRS Organization.
  6. Treasury Faults I.R.S. in Handling Tax Evaders. New York Times.