Monday, January 10, 2022
Bridget C.E. Dooling (George Washington Regulatory Studies Center; Google Scholar) & Kristin E. Hickman (Minnesota; Google Scholar), A Study To Evaluate OIRA Review of Treasury Regulations:
For most federal agencies, centralized review by Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) and regulatory impact analysis have been a routine part of the regulatory process for more than 40 years. Not so in the tax context. When OIRA was in its infancy, OIRA Administrator Christopher DeMuth and Treasury Department General Counsel Peter Wallison signed a memorandum of agreement that exempted most Treasury and IRS tax regulations from OIRA review. More than a decade later, that memorandum of agreement was ratified by OIRA Administrator Sally Katzen and Treasury Department General Counsel Jean Hanson. Katzen has indicated since then that her understanding was that the exempted rules were minor and technical rather than sweeping and substantive. As a result of these agreements, however, very few Treasury regulations were ever submitted for OIRA review.
That changed in April 2018, when OIRA Administrator Neomi Rao and Treasury Department General Counsel Brent McIntosh signed a new memorandum of agreement (MOA) that would pull more Treasury and IRS tax regulations in for OIRA review. ...
Now that the MOA is almost four years old, ... [we] investigate how OIRA review has influenced the content of Treasury regulations implementing and interpreting the tax laws. ...
As individuals who tend to think that OIRA review produces positive results, we recognize that our empirical work needs to stand up to scrutiny. Our goal is to produce a study that people on all sides of the issue of OIRA’s review of tax regulations can have confidence in and find useful. To that end, in the coming months we plan to share more about our methodology. We will welcome comments on those proposed plans, particularly those which help bolster the objectivity of and evidentiary basis for our work. In the meantime, please do reach out if you would like to engage with us about this project, as we are still in the early stages and will surely benefit from your thoughts and advice.