In 1922, the Department of Finance took over the functions of the pre-independence Treasury (Ireland) structure including the Finance, Establishment and Supply branches as well as the structures developed by the first Minister for Finance Michael Collins TD.
The development of a Department of Finance represented a general move away from the pre-independence institutions to a more structured civil service in line with the 1922 constitution. These structures, including the formal development of and assigning a role to the Department of Finance and the respective role of Departments and Ministers in the Government of the State were formalised by the Ministers and Secretaries Act, 1924.
The role of the Department was set out in that Act as:
The role of the Department was further referenced in the Constitution adopted in 1937
The Department has supported successive Governments in advising on and implementing programmes and policies in the development of specific programmes including the programme for economic expansion in the 1950s and 1960s; entry into the EEC and ongoing engagement with European institutions since 1973; and specific ongoing work such as expenditure control and taxation policy in the context of the annual Budget process.
The two most significant structural changes for the Department since its establishment were the absorption of the Department of the Public Service in 1987 and the creation of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in 2011 with the allocation of functions previously within the Department of Finance to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.