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Historical Perspectives on the Federal Income Tax











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13. DOES THE INTERNAL REVENUE SERVICE HAVE AUTHORITY TO OPERATE OUTSIDE OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA (SEAT OF GOVERNMENT ACT QUESTIONS)?

Questions concerning the authority of the Internal Revenue Service to operate outside of the District of Columbia generally are premised upon an incorrect reading of the requirements of the Seat of Government Act.73  The Act provides:

All offices attached to the seat of government shall be exercised in the District of Columbia, and not elsewhere, except as otherwise expressly provided by law.74

This Act was first enacted in 1790 for the purpose of centralizing the national government.75  The Act did not (and does not) require that a department or agency only have authority within the seat of government, but rather that the department or agency be physically located at the seat of government.   The same

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Congress which passed the Act set up districts for the collection of tariffs and taxes located outside the seat of government.76

The Department of the Treasury is an office attached to the seat of government.77  The IRS is a part of the Department of the Treasury.78  Therefore the IRS must have its office in the District of Columbia unless otherwise expressly provided by law. The IRS does have its national headquarters within the District of Columbia.

There are several provisions of law which expressly authorize the IRS to operate outside of the District of Columbia. Two of the more general such authorizations are found in sections 7621 and 7803 of the Internal Revenue Code. The first of these provides for the establishment by the President of internal revenue districts throughout the States for the purpose of administering the tax laws.79  In the second, the Secretary of the Treasury is authorized to employ such number of persons as the Secretary deems proper for the administration and enforcement of the tax laws and to designate and determine the posts of duty of such persons inside and outside of the District of Columbia.80


73 4 U.S.C. § 71--78.

74 4 U.S.C § 72.

75 Ch. 28, 1 Stat 130, lst Cong., 2nd Sess. (July 16, 1790). The Act established Philadelphia as the temporary seat of government until the first Monday in December of 1800 when the seat of government would become the District of Columbia.
 
76 See, Ch. 35, 1 Stat. 145, lst Cong., 2nd Seas. (August 4,1790).

77 See, 31 U.S.C. § 301(a).

78 See, 26 U.S.C § 7802.

79 26 U.S.C. § 7621.

80 26 US.C. § 7803.
 


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