The IRS strongly encourages taxpayers who are seriously behind on their taxes to pay what they owe or enter into a payment agreement with the IRS to avoid putting their passports in jeopardy.
This IRS has begun implementation of new procedures affecting individuals with “seriously delinquent tax debts.” These new procedures implement provisions of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, signed into law in December 2015. The FAST Act requires the IRS to notify the State Department of taxpayers the IRS has certified as owing a seriously delinquent tax debt. The FAST Act also requires the State Department to deny their passport application or deny renewal of their passports. In some cases, the State Department may revoke their passports.
Taxpayers affected by this law are those with a seriously delinquent tax debt. A taxpayer with a seriously delinquent tax debt is generally someone who owes the IRS more than $51,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest for which the IRS has filed a Notice of Federal Tax Lien and the period to challenge it has expired, or the IRS has issued a levy.
There are several ways taxpayers can avoid having the IRS notify the State Department of their seriously delinquent tax debt. They include:
- Paying the tax debt in full
- Paying the tax debt timely under an approved installment agreement,
- Paying the tax debt timely under an accepted offer in compromise,
- Paying the tax debt timely under the terms of a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice,
- Having requested or have a pending collection due process appeal with a levy, or
- Having collection suspended because a taxpayer has made an innocent spouse election or requested innocent spouse relief.
Passports won’t be at risk under this program for any taxpayer:
- Who is in bankruptcy
- Who is identified by the IRS as a victim of tax-related identity theft
- Whose account the IRS has determined is currently not collectible due to hardship
- Who is located within a federally declared disaster area
- Who has a request pending with the IRS for an installment agreement
- Who has a pending offer in compromise with the IRS
- Who has an IRS accepted adjustment that will satisfy the debt in full
In general, taxpayers behind on their tax obligations should come forward and pay what they owe or enter a payment plan with the IRS. Frequently, taxpayers qualify for one of several relief programs.
Danette Holguin, EA