There is a certain presumptive attitude that colors how the tax system works in Minnesota and at the federal level. That presumption is one of voluntary disclosure. That is, the expectation on the part of revenue collectors in St. Paul or in Washington is that taxpayers will honor their obligations on their own.

Indeed, the Internal Revenue Service encourages voluntary disclosure by nonfilers or others who may be under investigation. One way the agency might do this is by granting certain leniency to those who come forward to work out a plan to make good on the taxes they may owe. If the individual can show they are in dire need, tax liability might be reduced.

However, this should never be understood to mean that the IRS will let tax code violators skate. In fact, history has shown that the Department of Justice is more set today than ever on making sure individuals who are convicted of tax fraud or other serious crimes pay dearly for infractions, especially if the allegations involve knowingly trying to evade taxes.

What this means is that if the IRS or the Department of Revenue in Minnesota or Wisconsin notifies you of any action, you need to take the matter very seriously. Whether the action involves a review of your returns, an audit or a collection action on taxes you allegedly owe, you should consult immediately with an experienced tax attorney. At firms where the initial consultation is free, cost does not need to be a reason for concern.