What is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)? | EverydayResources.com

Financial|Tax Services

What is the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)?

Founded in 1862 by President Abraham Lincoln, the Internal Revenue Service is in charge of enforcing tax laws as well as the collection of taxes. Under the authority of the United States Department of the Treasury, the IRS’s main purpose is the taxation of all American companies and businesses. Taxpayers can file either electronically or they can mail in their taxes. No matter how you prefer to file your taxes, the department handling your paperwork is the IRS.

What Does the IRS Do?

The overall purpose of the IRS is to enforce and uphold tax laws enacted by congress. Additional duties include:

  • Overseeing certain types of retirement plans
  • Collecting the tax returns filed by businesses and individuals
  • Issuing refunds to those that overpaid taxes
  • Conducting criminal investigations
  • Ensuring you pay whatever taxes are due

The busiest department of the IRS is likely the enforcement side of the organization. According to the Tax Policy Center, the IRS spent almost 40% of its budget on enforcement. Of that funding, 83% of it was for investigations and tax audits.

In addition to collecting taxes, they also ensure that those Americans that qualify for other tax credits, such as the Earned Income Credit, receive them. There are even educational tax credits that can help with your children’s future college education.

Owner and Leadership

The IRS has no owner but is considered the tax administrator that works for the Secretary of the Treasury. The IRS technically has no owner, they are under the direction of the Treasury. They are under the leadership of the IRS Commissioner who is appointed by the President of the United States every five years.

If you have seen the logo for the IRS, either on the website or maybe a piece of mail, you have probably recognized a few familiar elements. The logo for the IRS contains several elements that are found in other pieces of American government signage and seals.

The first and most obvious part of the logo is the eagle. This is the bald eagle, the national bird, and it is also found on many other government buildings, seals, and logos. In the logo for the IRS, it simply represents the USA.

The next component seen is the olive branch. This is another component that is present in a lot of US imagery. The olive branch represents mediation and the offering of peace. The olive branch is accompanied by the scales, another truly American image. The scales represent fair measure and justice.

History of the Internal Revenue Service

The roots of the Internal Revenue Service reach all the way back to the Civil War. It was created by President Lincoln and Congress. They were initially created to collect the original income tax to pay for the plethora of war expenses. That income tax was quickly repealed a decade later, not to be seen again until 1913, when it was included in a Constitutional amendment.