IRS Tax Debt Could Affect Passport Renewal

May 19, 2023 | Financial Planning, Tax & Accounting

As a reminder, individuals with “seriously delinquent tax debts” could have their passport application or renewal denied or even have their current passport revoked, courtesy of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, signed into law in December 2015. These provisions went into effect in February 2018.

Background

The FAST Act requires the IRS to notify the State Department of taxpayers the IRS has certified as owing a seriously delinquent tax debt. It also requires the State Department to deny their passport application or renewal. In certain instances, the State Department may revoke their passport.

Taxpayers affected by this law are those with seriously delinquent tax debt, generally, an individual 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.

What Taxpayers Can Do

Taxpayers can avoid having the IRS notify the State Department of their seriously delinquent tax debt by doing the following:

  • 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.

However, a taxpayer’s passport won’t be at risk under this program if an individual:

  • Is in bankruptcy
  • Is identified by the IRS as a victim of tax-related identity theft
  • Has an account that the IRS has determined is currently not collectible due to hardship
  • Is located within a federally declared disaster area
  • Has a request pending with the IRS for an installment agreement
  • Has a pending offer in compromise with the IRS
  • Has an IRS accepted adjustment that will satisfy the debt in full

For taxpayers serving in a combat zone and who also owe a seriously delinquent tax debt, the IRS postpones notifying the State Department, and the individual’s passport is not subject to denial during this time.

Payment Options for Delinquent Taxes

Taxpayers who are behind on their tax obligations should come forward and pay what they owe or enter into a payment plan with the IRS and may qualify for one of several relief programs, including the following:

  • Taxpayers can request a payment agreement with the IRS by filing Form 9465, Installment Agreement Request. Taxpayers can download this form from IRS.gov and mail it with a tax return, bill, or notice.
  • Some taxpayers may be eligible to use the online payment agreement to set up a monthly payment agreement for up to 72 months.
  • Financially distressed taxpayers may qualify for an offer in compromise, an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles the taxpayer’s tax liabilities for less than the full amount owed. The IRS looks at the taxpayer’s income and assets to determine the taxpayer’s ability to pay.

If you owe back taxes and are worried your passport could be revoked or your application or renewal be denied because of unpaid taxes, please call.

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