The stated position of the IRS is to prosecute any amount of deficiency, but there are minimum amounts that generally are not pursued, and intent is a factor too. 50k is way above the minimum amounts. Federal district court will be the venue. Hire a criminal tax attorney now.
I agree with Mr. Durr. You should immediately seek out a criminal tax attorney to go over the specifics of your case. The criminal investigation division will look at many factors, tax loss is just one factor, intent, multiple year returns having similar issues, etc. all play factors in whether the IRS will prosecute.
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The IRS will pursue any amount that is deficiency if the circumstances are such that they believe it is in the best interest of enforcement and collection. As my colleagues have noted, there are minimums but these are guidelines, not absolutes.
Evan A. Nielsen is licensed to practice law in California and handles federal tax matters throughout the U.S. The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice for a particular matter. This response does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult an attorney.
Although my colleagues are correct that the IRS can and does criminally prosecute this type of case, you need to consider the civil (non-criminal) aspects of the case also. Even if we can get someone out of the criminal area, there are lots of challenges ahead dealing with the Examinations and Collections Divisions. If you will call our office, I can explain in more detail. I would not recommend calling the IRS at all.