Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF).
The United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) is a branch of the U.S. Department of the Treasury that collects taxes on alcohol and tobacco and enforces and regulates all laws made by Congress governing the production and distribution of such substances. The ATF as it is known today was formed in 1972, separating from the Internal Revenue Service to become its own separate bureau, however, its beginnings go all the way back to Colonial times.
1789 is the year the ATF was born, known then as the Department of the Treasury. The first Congress created a tax on imported spirits to help pay off the debts that had accumulated from the Revolutionary War. Two years later, in 1791, Congress followed with a second tax, one on domestic production of spirits. Many taxpaying citizens were unhappy with the new taxes, and a short-lived resistance known as the Whiskey Rebellion took place. It was unsuccessful and the taxes continued. .
The year 1862 marked the creation of the Office of Internal Revenue, a branch of the Treasury Department that was responsible for collecting taxes and enforcing laws in association with tobacco and alcohol. It would hold that name for nearly eighty years. 1875 was the year the Whiskey Ring was caught by federal agents for defrauding the government out of millions in alcohol taxes. Grain dealers, political figures and Revenue department agents were all found to be involved. It was because of this huge debacle that Congress saw that better administrators were needed to watch over and enforce the laws in place. The Department of Revenue's heyday came in the early 20th Century as 1919 marked the passage of the Volstead Prohibition Enforcement Act, virtually outlawing all manufacturing, sale, or transportation of all alcohol. The Revenue Department created the Prohibition Unit to be a watchdog for illegal activities associated with prohibition.