The History of IRS Criminal Investigation (CI)


Notice: Historical Content

This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current law, policies or procedures.

On July 1, 1919, the IRS Commissioner created the Intelligence Unit to investigate widespread allegations of tax fraud. To establish the Intelligence Unit, six United States Post Office Inspectors were transferred to the Bureau of Internal Revenue to become the first special agents in charge of the organization that would one day become Criminal Investigation.  They formed the nucleus that built the Intelligence Unit into an elite group of highly trained, dedicated professionals, who are recognized as the finest financial investigators in the world.

The Intelligence Unit quickly became renowned for the financial investigative skill of its special agents.  It attained national prominence in the thirties for the conviction of public enemy number one, Al Capone, for income tax evasion, and its role in solving the Lindbergh kidnapping.  From these promising beginnings the Intelligence Unit expanded over the intervening decades, investigating tax evasion by ordinary citizens, prominent businesspersons, government officials, and notorious criminals.

In July 1978, the Intelligence Unit changed its name to Criminal Investigation (CI).  Over the years CI’s statutory jurisdiction expanded to include money laundering and currency violations in addition to its traditional role in investigating tax violations.  However, Criminal Investigation’s core mission remains unchanged.  It continues to fulfill the important role of helping to ensure the integrity and fairness of our nation’s tax system.

Since CI’s inception in 1919 to the present, the conviction rate for Federal tax prosecutions has never fallen below 90 percent.  This is a record of success that is unmatched in Federal law enforcement.