Portal:IRS investigation of Al Capone
|Class H - Social Sciences
Subclass VB - Criminology
|IRS investigation of Al Capone
Records of the United States Internal Revenue Service
Al Capone was an Italian American gangster who led a crime syndicate dedicated to the smuggling and bootlegging of liquor and other illegal activities during the Prohibition Era of the 1920s and 1930s. Although never successfully convicted of racketeering charges, Capone's criminal career ended in 1931, when he was indicted and convicted by the federal government for income tax evasion.
In early 2008, the Internal Revenue Service complied with a public request under the Freedom of Information Act to release certain documents relating to the criminal investiagion of Al Capone for tax evasion. While the IRS normally denies such requests for privacy concerns of individuals, the agency determined that the important historical value of such documents and the fact that Al Capone never filed an income tax return were sufficient reasons to allow the request.
All Federal tax records are confidential by law. The availability of historical records is highly unusual. However, the records of the criminal investigation of Al Capone below are of historical significance and of interest to the public. Therefore, they are being made available under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The IRS is committed to its FOIA obligations and to an open government by making information available as authorized by law. No other IRS records meet the unique set of circumstances that make the Capone records publicly available.
In 1931, the Internal Revenue Service’s Intelligence Unit completed an investigation of Alphonse Capone which led to his conviction for tax evasion for which he served 11 years in prison. A recent Freedom of Information Act Request for a copy of Special Agent Frank Wilson’s report to Elmer Irey about the Capone investigation led to a review of the records in light of the confidentiality provisions of Internal Revenue Code Section 6103. The review concluded that this information could be made available to the public – principally because Capone never filed a tax return.
The following are copies of reports and letters from the actual file which summarize the events and activities of the three year investigation of Al Capone.
- Letter dated March 27, 1931, from Special Agent Frank J. Wilson to the Chief, Intelligence Unit, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Washington, D.C, providing an update on the status of the "Capone investigation."
- Letter dated April 8, 1931, from Special Agent Frank J. Wilson to the Chief, Intelligence Unit, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Washington, D.C, providing an update on the status of the "Capone investigation."
- Letter dated July 8, 1931, from W.C. Hodgins, Jacque L. Westrich, and H.N. Clagett, all Internal Revenue Agents, to the Internal Revenue Agent in Charge, Chicago, Illinois, in re Alphonse Capone, 7244 Prairie Avenue, Chicago, Illinois.
- Summary Report dated December 21, 1933, prepared by Special Agent Frank J. Wilson at the request of the Chief, Intelligence Unit, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Washington, D.C., in re Alphonse Capone, Lexington Hotel, 2300 Michigan Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois.
- Excerpt referencing Al Capone from "A Narrative Briefly Descriptive of the Period 1919 to 1936." This was a report prepared on the organization, functions and activities during that time period by Elmer Irey, Chief, Intelligence Unit, for the IRS Commissioner, Bureau of Internal Revenue, Guy T. Helvering.