Unpaid Taxes Could Jeopardize Your Passport

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Unpaid Taxes Could Jeopardize Your Passport

Fallen behind on your taxes? In addition to liens and wage garnishments, you might face another problem – loss of your passport. According to the IRS, those who are “seriously delinquent” on their taxes might have passport applications or renewals denied or even have their current passport revoked. To show that they are serious, the IRS has begun sending certifications to the Department of State early this year of those with unpaid taxes.

Behind Only $1,000? Do No Worry

The good news is that the government is not going after small-time delinquents. Instead, the baseline for being “seriously delinquent” is currently defined as being more than $50,000 behind in taxes. This amount includes the primary debt as well as any interest and penalties. Furthermore, the IRS must have already filed its Notice of Federal Tax Lien.

The authorization to revoke passports was contained in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, called “FAST,” that was passed in 2015, under the Obama Administration. Fortunately, citizens can avoid any negative consequences by fully paying their debt or entering into a compromise agreement. Also, those requesting innocent spouse relief can avoid the harsh consequences if their appeal is pending.

The law has some exemptions:

  • People in bankruptcy
  • People living in federally-declared disaster areas
  • People serving in combat zones
  • Victims of identity theft that is tax related

What To Do if You are Behind

If you have received a notice, you should not immediately panic. However, you do need to address your tax debt. The IRS will send you a notice at about the same time that it informs the Department of State that you are seriously delinquent. As a result, you might not have a lot of time to act. Currently, the U.S. government has said that it is not revoking passports, merely denying renewals and applications. However, they could change their mind, even if you are out of the country.

To act fast, you can contact the IRS to discuss entering into an installment agreement or making an offer in compromise. Contact a tax attorney who can help you in this process. If you are appealing a tax levy, you should also be protected, but you should consult with a tax attorney just in case. If you think the IRS issued a certification in error, you can file suit in a federal district court or Tax Court.

The government is unlikely to halt the policy. According to CBS News, as of July 2018, the IRS has managed to collect about $11.5 million from 220 people. One person even paid over $1 million in unpaid taxes to prevent their passport from being revoked.

Contact Us with Your Immigration Related Questions

At Kriezelman Burton & Associates, we stay on top of immigration changes so that you do not have to. As one of Chicago’s premier immigration law firms, we can consult with you or your business to help you handle all immigration issues that pop up. To find out more about how we can help, please contact us to schedule a consultation.