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How Laws and Regulations are Made

Laws and regulations constitute the legal foundation for our mission to collect the revenue and protect the public. Congress passes laws that govern the activities and programs of federal agencies such as TTB. These laws also often authorize federal agencies to issue regulations to implement the agency's statutory activities and programs. The following information explains how our alcohol and tobacco laws and regulations are created and changed, what they are, and where to find them.

Creating and Finding Laws

  • To create a law, a member of Congress first introduces a bill in the House or Senate. For more information on how bills are written and passed, and to see the bills Congress is considering or has considered, visit Congress.gov, the official website for U.S. federal legislative information.
  • If both houses of Congress pass a bill, it becomes an enrolled bill, and it then goes to the President for signature. If signed by the President, the enrolled bill becomes law.
  • Once a bill is signed into law, it is placed in the Statutes at Large, given a Public Law designation (number), and codified in the United States Code. The United States Code is the official source for all codified federal laws.
  • The United States Code database is available from the Government Printing Office, which is the sole agency authorized by Congress to publish the U.S. Code.
  • To see a list of the major laws relating to our bureau, see TTB Authority Under the United States Code.

Putting the Law to Work

  • A law passed by Congress often includes authorization for the head of a government agency, such as the Department of the Treasury, to issue regulations that will implement that law.  
  • Department heads often delegate their authority to issue regulations to individual agencies and bureaus within their Department; the Secretary of the Treasury has delegated authority to TTB to issue regulations concerning alcohol and tobacco excise taxes and products.
  • Regulations establish specific rules that the public must follow in order to comply with the requirements of the law.
  • Once the regulation is in effect, it is our job to help the public comply with it.

Creating a Regulation

  • We decide that a regulation may be needed based on the enactment of new legislation, the receipt of a petition from a member of the public or regulated industry, or as a result of internal review.
  • We then create a proposed rule document (known as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, or NPRM) and forward it to the Department of the Treasury for publication approval.
  • The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is then published in the Federal Register. In addition, we post copies of our notices on Regulations.gov, the federal government's e-Rulemaking website, and on our All - Notices of Proposed Rulemaking page at TTB.gov.
  • The public can consider the proposed rule and send us their comments electronically via Regulations.gov, or on paper via postal mail or hand delivery.
  • We consider all the comments, revise the regulation if necessary, and issue a final rule document (Treasury Decision) for Treasury approval and Federal Register publication.

Carrying Out the Law

Enabling statutes create authority for administrative agencies to issue regulations or rules. The following laws give us the authority to administer and enforce the laws regulating alcohol production, importation, and wholesale businesses; tobacco manufacturing and importing businesses; and alcohol labeling and advertising:

  • Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (Title 26 of the United States Code)
  • Federal Alcohol Administration Act (Title 27 of the United States Code)
    • Alcohol Beverage Labeling Act of 1988 (ABLA)
  • The Webb-Kenyon Act

See our Statutory Authorities and Responsibilities page for more information.

Informing the Public

  • We publish official notices of our actions, including proposed and final regulations, in the Federal Register. In addition, we post copies of our notices on Regulations.gov, the federal government’s e-Rulemaking website, and on our All - Notices of Proposed Rulemaking page at TTB.gov.
  • We generally allow 60 days for comments on proposed regulations, but we may extend that period or hold public hearings if a proposal is complex.
  • During the comment period, anyone may comment on a notice of proposed rulemaking electronically via Regulations.gov, or on paper via postal mail or hand delivery.
  • At the close of the comment period, we analyze all the comments we received and decide how to proceed.
  • Based on the comments, we may withdraw a proposal, issue another notice with an amended proposal, or formulate a final rule (also known as a Treasury Decision).
  • When we publish a final rule, we usually allow 30 days between the publication of the final rule and the effective date. For some changes to the rules, we may allow a longer transition period.
  • The final rule amends our regulations, which are codified in Chapter I of Title 27 of the Code of Federal Regulations (27 CFR).
  • If you want to petition for a change in the regulations, follow the instructions in 27 CFR 70.701 and send your petition to TTB's Regulations and Rulings Division.


  • Links to all TTB regulatory and other documents published in the Federal Register are available at our TTB Publications in Federal Register page at TTB.gov.
  • All TTB rulemaking documents also are posted in docket folders at Regulations.gov.  A docket folder is a collection of documents related to a rulemaking or other action. The docket folder may contain:
    • One or more Federal Register documents (rules and notices)
    • Materials specifically referenced in those documents
    • Public comments
    • Applications, petitions, or adjudication documents
    • Other documents used by decision makers
  • The Semiannual Regulatory Plan and Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions (Unified Agenda) includes information on each federal regulatory agency's planned, in-progress, and recently completed regulatory actions. 
    • The Regulatory Plan describes each major regulatory initiative in narrative form
    • The Regulatory Agenda includes information on all upcoming and recently completed regulatory actions.
  • The Unified Agenda is published online twice a year by the Regulatory Information Service Center. You can view information on our regulatory actions (included within the Department of the Treasury's Unified Agenda) at Reginfo.gov.

Last updated: January 5, 2022
Maintained by: Regulations and Rulings Division