Treasury, OMB Agree to Increased Oversight of Tax Regulations

Certain proposed regulations issued by Treasury will now be subject to additional oversight by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between Treasury and OMB released on April 12 specifies terms under which the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within OMB will review future tax regulations.

The MOA comes on the heels of recent debate on whether OMB should have increased oversight of Treasury’s tax-related regulations. While some lawmakers have argued for additional oversight of tax rules, others have expressed concern that more oversight will lead to delays in issuing guidance. The subject has been of particular focus on Capitol Hill as Treasury and the IRS prepare to implement the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) (P.L. 115-97) enacted last December.

Previous MOA

A previous agreement adopted in 1983 and reaffirmed in 1993, allowed for OIRA review of some regulations but exempted most tax rules. “The MOA announced today replaces the 1983 agreement with a new review process tailored to tax regulations—it focuses on reducing regulatory burdens while providing timely guidance to taxpayers,” according to a news release from Treasury. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and OMB Director Mick Mulvaney both praised the MOA in a joint news release for ensuring clarity and transparency for taxpayers.

Generally, OIRA will have 45 days to review submissions from Treasury, according to the MOA. However, to allow for timely implementation of the TCJA, the Treasury secretary or deputy secretary, with the approval of the OIRA administrator, may designate certain tax rules for expedited release.

Increased Tax Regulation Oversight

Under the terms of the MOA, tax rules will be subject to OIRA review if they interfere with an action taken by another agency, raise novel legal or policy issues, or have an annual nonrevenue effect on the economy of $100 million or more.

“There may be perfectly good reasons for adding an additional layer of review to finalize Treasury regulations,” John Gimigliano, principal-in-charge of federal legislative and regulatory services in the Washington National Tax practice of KPMG LLP, told Wolters Kluwer on April 13. “But speeding up implementation of the new tax law is not one of them. The practical effect of this is that taxpayers will have to wait longer for Treasury to issue interpretations of the new law.”

By Jessica Jeane, Wolters Kluwer News Staff

Signed Treasury OIRA MOA

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