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The Other Travel Ban - How The IRS Can Take Your Passport

The Other Travel Ban - How The IRS Can Take Your Passport
Ines Zemelman, EA
05-Feb-17

When HR22 was passed on Dec 4 2015, it included specific language amendments to Section 7345 of the US tax code which gave the IRS the authority to ask the US State Department to seize passport.

While the IRS can’t seize your passport themselves, they can certify to the state department that you have delinquent tax debt, which will in turn lead the state department to not renew your passport or the department may limit your passport to return travel to the U.S.

When do these certifications begin? How will I find out if I have been selected?

The IRS has not yet started certifying tax debt to the State Department. Certifications to the State Department will begin in early 2017. The IRS is required to notify you in writing at the time the IRS certifies seriously delinquent tax debt to the State Department. The IRS is also required to notify you in writing at the time it reverses certification. The IRS will send written notice by regular mail to your last known address.

What constitutes ‘seriously delinquent tax debt’?

The IRS defines this ominous term as an individual's unpaid, legally enforceable federal tax debt totaling more than $50,000* (including interest and penalties) for which:

- The IRS has filed a Notice of federal tax lien (the actual seizure of your property by the IRS to satisfy a tax debt)

- Levy has been issued(claim against your property to secure payment of your tax debt)

I previously had issues with the IRS, but they have since been resolved (i.e entered into an installment agreement or offer in compromise) - am I affected?

There is some reprieve after all; not all tax debt is included in determining seriously delinquent tax debt even if it meets the aforementioned criteria. The following is a list of excludable debt from the calculations (note: timely manner is the key phrase in this list)

- An Installment Agreement, paid in a timely manner

- In Offer In Compromise (OIC), paid in timely manner.t

- Requested a due process hearing for collection due in a timely manner in response to levy to collect debt.

- Collection suspended because a request for innocent spouse relief under IRC § 6015 has been made

Is this action immediate? Will I have time to respond to this certification before my passport is revoked?

In the spirit of due process, you will have 90 days to respond prior to the State Department taking action.  If in receipt of this perilous notice, please do not wait but act immediately to:

- Resolve any erroneous certification issues

- Settle any pending tax debt

- If unable to pay, contact the IRS and negotiate a payment alternative.

Ines Zemelman, EA
Ines Zemelman, EA
founder of Taxes for Expats