Can The IRS Take My Passport?

Yes, it can. The nation's most aggressive collection agency has a new enforcement tool: Passport denial and revocation. Passed into law back in 2015, the IRS has only recently worked out the process with the State Department for identifying and certifying taxpayers with more than $51,000 in back taxes, interest and penalties.

What do you need to do to avoid an emergency where you could lose your passport? We will answer some frequently asked questions.

Has The IRS Denied Or Revoked Passports?

This is unclear, but the IRS claims one taxpayer paid more than $1 million to avoid a denied passport application. Currently, the IRS and State Department are compiling a list of taxpayers (approximately 362,000, which should be complete by the end of 2018).

Then when one of these people applies for a passport or renewal, it will be denied.

So far, no plans are underway to revoke and seize valid passports.

Do I Receive The IRS Has Certified Me To The State Department?

You should have notice from an assessment of past due taxes that includes penalties and interest. Then the Service also needs to have started the lien/levy process before certifying you to the State Department.

The National Taxpayer Advocate has complained the process does not provide enough time for a taxpayer to solve any tax problems and avoid certification. She advocates a 30-day notice to provide a taxpayer time to solve the tax problem.

I Can't Pay My Full Balance, What Are My Options?

The good news is that there are a few, but it is crucial to take action to avoid a difficult situation that could impact your upcoming travel schedule. These actions will delay certification and protect your passport:

  • Request a Collection Due Process hearing - you cannot be certified while an appeal is pending
  • Ask for an installment agreement that is more than nominal and make payments
  • File an offer in compromise to settle the back taxes
  • Requesting innocent spouse relief for something you knew nothing about.

Some of these will take time to adequately prepare. For instance, innocent spouse relief or an offer in compromise requires documentation and a strong argument to support the request.

When International Travel Is A Requirement

You may have to travel internationally for work or live part of the year abroad. Getting off the "seriously delinquent tax debt" list is much harder than staying off it to begin with. Send us an email with your concerns, so one of our attorneys can explain more.

Our skilled attorneys represent taxpayers across the country and have the experience to find an answer right for you.