Americans Who Owe IRS Taxes Face Losing Their Passports

The Internal Revenue Service says that Americans with “seriously delinquent” overdue tax payments of more than $51,000 will be denied passports or passport renewals if they do not pay the money they owe, according to The Wall Street Journal.

An IRS spokesman told the Journal that as many as 362,000 Americans currently have tax debt that would make them ineligible for renewal or issuance of passports.

Congress passed a law in 2015 giving the IRS power to block passports. The agency began in February providing the State Department, which oversees passport applications, with the names of tens of thousands of violators. The IRS will notify those in debt at the same time they notify the State Department. The notice will be in writing.

The IRS says that people who are bankrupt, victims of tax-related identity fraud or living in a federally-declared disaster area will not risk losing their passports. The agency also said that it will offer payment plans to “financially distressed” taxpayers.

Travelers with overdue taxes who are already overseas may be eligible for a limited passport good for a direct return to the United States, according to the State Department. The State Department can issue a passport for emergencies or humanitarian reasons to ensure the return of a U.S. citizen from overseas, said a department spokesman.

IRS Division Commissioner Mary Beth Murphy told the Journal in June that U.S. authorities for now are only denying passports and not revoking passports from people who hold debts. Those with debt who do not hold passports will be denied if they apply. A State Department official said that the agency has already denied passports to people who hold tax debts.

People with debt of $51,000 or more who hold current passports can travel abroad but won’t be permitted to renew their passports.

As of late June, $11.5 million had been paid to settle debts so that 220 people could receive passports. Another 1,400 people have signed installment agreements, according to an IRS spokesman. One person paid $1 million in overdue taxes to avoid having their passport denied, according to the Journal.



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