Treasury Regulations are the tax regulations issued by the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a bureau of the United States Department of the Treasury. These regulations are the Treasury Department’s official interpretations of the Internal Revenue Code and are one source of U.S. federal income tax law.
Authority and citations
Section 7805 of the Internal Revenue Code gives the United States Secretary of the Treasury the power to create the necessary rules and regulations for enforcing the Internal Revenue Code. These regulations, also known as the “Income Tax Regulations,” are located in Title 26 of the Code of Federal Regulations, or “C.F.R.” The regulations are organized according to the Internal Revenue Code section that a regulation interprets. Citations to the Treasury Regulations may appear in different formats. For instance, the definition of gross income in the regulations may be cited to as “26 C.F.R. 1.61-1” or as “Treas. Reg. 1.61-1.” Both citations refer to the same regulation, which interprets Internal Revenue Code Section 61, "Gross income defined."
Final and Interpretive Regulations
Under this authority, the Secretary of the Treasury can promulgate final regulations that become a kind of proliferation of the statute. In the process of enacting final regulations, the Treasury enacts proposed or temporary regulations. Proposed regulations do not become effective until after comments and testimony are received ("notice and comment"), and a final regulation is issued. Proposed Regulations may offer guidance for a specific section of the Code and help in determining a taxpayer's liability for the given year, although they have limited precedential value. Interpretive Regulations may be dismissed if they are determined to be at variance with the statute, however it is not unknown for courts to accord interpretive regulations with "force of law" status. In 2011, the Supreme Court of the United States decision in Mayo Foundation v. United States effected a shift away from the distinction between "Interpretive Regulations," under 7805 and regulations specifically authorized by their respective Code sections. Courts now evaluate Treasury Regulations based on the standard laid out in the 1984 decision Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
Temporary regulations are effective upon publication in the Federal Register and may be valid for no more than three years from their date of issuance. Because the notice and comment process can take several months or even years, if the Treasury wants a regulation to become effective more quickly, it will often issue a proposed regulation simultaneously as a temporary regulation.
Proposed Treasury Regulations are drafted by the Internal Revenue Service and published in the Federal Register. Proposed Treasury Regulations are published so that taxpayers may submit written comments or speak at hearings before final regulations are published.  After the notice and comment period, the Final Treasury Regulations are then published first in the Federal Register before final publication in the Code of Federal Regulations. Temporary regulations are effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register. Temporary and final regulations are initially published as Treasury Decisions (“TD”). TD's include an explanatory preamble, which can be a helpful source for legal research.
- Harvard Law School Library. "Federal Tax Law Research, Treasury Regulations". Archived from the original on 2008-05-11. Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- "26 U.S.C. § 7805. "Rules and regulations."". Retrieved 2008-06-05.
- Samuel A. Donaldson, Federal Income Taxation of Individuals: Cases, Problems and Materials, 3 (2nd Ed. 2007)
- Helvering v. Windmill, 305 U.S. 79 (1938); Crane v. Commissioner, 331 U.S. 1 (1947).
- Code of Federal Regulations, Title 26, Treasury Regulations (current "Electronic CFR")