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Roseau commissioner charged with tax evasion

Roseau County Commissioner Orris Rasmussen faces tax evasion charges by the state Revenue Department.

Four gross misdemeanor and one felony tax crime were filed against Rasmussen, 72, by the Pennington County Attorney's Office, which handled the investigation, the state Revenue Department said Friday.

Rasmussen of Roseau is charged with four gross misdemeanor counts of knowingly failing to file Minnesota tax returns and one felony count of willfully failing to file personal income tax returns for tax years 2003 through 2007.

Rasmussen has been a Roseau County commissioner since 1992, serving District 3. He retired in 1991 from the Roseau County Highway Department.

According to the complaint, Rasmussen's income in 2003 totaled more than $73,000, $74,000 in 2004, $56,000 in 2005, $52,000 in 2006 and $56,000 in 2007. Each amount exceeds the minimum guideline for filing state income tax returns, the state Revenue Department said.

"The department alleges Rasmussen gave no logical answer as to why he did not file his tax returns and, as a county commissioner, knows everyone must file tax returns," the Revenue Department statement said.

Rasmussen told The Associated Press that he's working with attorneys to get an extension to settle the matter.

Each gross misdemeanor is punishable up to one year in prison, up to a $3,000 fine, or both. The felony is punishable up to five years in prison, up to a $10,000 fine, or both.

While the Revenue Department didn't say how it was tipped to Rasmussen's alleged tax evasion, the department statement included information on how to do so.

"The Minnesota Department of Revenue has a 24-hour tip line for anyone who suspects an individual or business is violating tax laws, at 651-297-5195 or 1-800-657-3500. Tipsters may remain anonymous and can also e-mail the department at," it said.

"Last year, citizen tips resulted in 87 percent of the department's criminal case referrals," the Revenue Department said. "It takes progressively stricter measures against taxpayers who demonstrate that they will not voluntarily meet their obligations."