The United States Department of the Treasury is a Cabinet-level agency of the federal government. It is responsible for crucial functions that help keep the government running, including paying all U.S. bills, collecting taxes, and managing federal finances.

Another important role the Department of the Treasury performs is overseeing national banks, and printing and minting all paper currency and coins in circulation through the Bureau of Engraving and Printing and the United States Mint.

Mostly under the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the same agency that collects taxes, the Treasury also enforces tax and financial laws, prosecuting alleged tax evaders and financial criminals.

In addition, the department makes recommendations regarding domestic and international financial, monetary, economic, trade, and tax policy, and publishes statistical reports.

Key Takeaways

  • The Secretary of the Treasury is an appointed Cabinet-level position in the U.S. federal government. 
  • The Secretary of the Treasury acts as a principal advisor to the President and the Cabinet on economic issues.
  • The United States Department of the Treasury, which the secretary oversees, performs many important functions, including paying the nation's bills, printing money, and collecting taxes.
  • Historically, Secretaries of the Treasury have had high-level backgrounds in finance, law, and government.

Understanding the Secretary of the Treasury's Duties

The President of the United States looks to the Secretary of the Treasury as a principal advisor on economic issues. The secretary makes recommendations about domestic and global economic and tax policy. The secretary plays a very important part in creating strategies that affect economic and government financial outlooks for issues the government faces. 

They take part in formulating broad fiscal policies that significantly impact the economy and manage the public debt. The secretary also serves as the financial representative for the United States government. This person is responsible for overseeing the manufacture of U.S. coins and currency and managing the amount of cash that is available to markets.

The Secretary of the Treasury has some responsibility for the credit rating of the United States. If the U.S. mismanages money or defaults on debt, the entire economy can be hurt. For that reason, the secretary may take on additional duties not specifically laid out in the job description.

Qualifications

The Secretary of the Treasury is chosen by the President of the United States. The candidate must then face U.S. Senate hearings and be confirmed by a majority vote before being sworn in. 

The work experience a nominee for Treasury Secretary has is typically found in economics, law, business, education, the military, or in a previous government post. The President has the ability to choose a nominee from any walk of American life.

The only rule, as stated in the United States Constitution, is that the President not nominate any member of the House. No member of Congress is permitted to hold a Cabinet position while simultaneously holding a post in the House. Any House member nominated would have to resign to assume the office of the Secretary of the Treasury.

Salary

As of January 2020, the Secretary of the Treasury is paid an annual salary of $219,200.  The General Fund of the Treasury pays the salary.

Standard Term

The amount of time a Secretary of the Treasury has in their post is incumbent upon the President’s discretion. The President may dismiss the Treasury Secretary at will and replace them at any time. Traditionally, the secretary resigns once the President’s term is over, though in several cases, secretaries have stayed on into new administrations.

Current Secretary of the Treasury

As of May 2020, the Secretary of the Treasury is a former hedge fund manager, film producer, and Goldman Sachs executive Steven T. Mnuchin, who was confirmed for the appointment on Feb. 13, 2017.

On Nov. 23, 2020, President-Elect Joe Biden named Janet Yellen as his pick for Secretary of the Treasury. Yellen was previously the first woman to lead to the Federal Reserve. If confirmed, she would be the first woman to lead the Treasury.