The office of comptroller of public accounts was established by Article IV, Sections 1 and 23 of the Constitution of 1876. As a state office it was first established by the Constitution of 1845 and superseded a similar office originally established in 1835 and made part of the Treasury Department during the Republic of Texas in 1836.
The comptroller is elected and serves for four years. The major duties of the office are keeping accounts of state funds, acting as tax administrator and collector for the state, and furnishing research and statistics for estimating revenue. The comptroller submits financial reports to the governor and the legislature with statements on the previous fiscal year, outstanding appropriations, and estimates of anticipated revenue.
The comptroller's office is composed of a number of divisions designed to carry out various tasks. The Administration Area includes budget, support services, training, and personnel divisions to monitor agency expenditures and funds, maintain agency inventories, and train and keep records on personnel. The Audit Area conducts audits on twenty-eight state taxes, including the sales tax, which is the state's largest single revenue source. An Internal Audit Area provides an independent review of the office's accounting activities. The Communications Area provides taxpayer information to the public, while the Enforcement Area has several operations that collect delinquent taxes, file criminal complaints, issue licenses, and execute various other tax-related procedures. A Data Processing division disseminates information through the agency's computer network. Other areas of operation in the comptroller's office include Fiscal Management, Revenue Management, Legal/Policy, Local Government, and State Accounting Operations. These divisions prepare economic forecasts, process tax returns and license applications, assist counties and cities in collecting revenue, handle claims against the state, and issue annual expenditure reports. The comptroller's office had a budget totaling over $115 million in 1991, when about 2,800 employees worked in the agency.