Part III: What To Do If You Could Lose Your Passport Due to IRS Tax Liability

A New Law Means That Delinquent Taxpayers May Lose Their Passports

As we discussed, due to a new law, the State Department may now seize US citizens’ passports if the holders have seriously IRS tax liability (defined as owing more than $50,000). If you’re someone at risk of losing your passport, you should know about the relevant procedures–both to lose and regain your passport.

The first thing to know is that none of this happens in the dark. It isn’t like you’ll be at the airport, and suddenly TSA seizes your passport without you having any idea there was a problem.

According to an IRS recent statement, the IRS is required to notify you in writing when it issues a certification to State have and IRS tax liability. (Note that the IRS will mail this notice to the address it has on file–so make sure the agency has a current address, or have someone look out for your mail.) Once the delinquency is addressed, the IRS will again notify State–and you–so that your passport can be released.

To settle the delinquency, you can pay the amount, but that isn’t your only option. For instance, you can work out an IRS installment payment plan or other settlement. Or you may explain you’re not legally required to pay the debt. And you can also get your passport back if you can prove that the IRS certification is in error.

However, you’ll need patience. For certifications issued in error, the IRS is supposed to act promptly, but for rescinding other certifications, the IRS may take as long as a month to issue a new notice to State.

What if you can’t wait? If you need a passport for emergency travel, or perhaps you live abroad, all is still not necessarily lost. Upon application, the State Department may grant exceptions for the passport seizure. State also can issue a limited passport–such as one good just for a trip to home from abroad.

And there are legal remedies: you may be able to sue if the IRS fails to reverse a certification.

But at some point, even when you can get the certification removed, the new law is a reminder that you can’t get away from the IRS and IRS tax liability. Now, more literally than ever before.

CALL US IMMEDIATELY if you feel your passport is in jeopardy. We can assist with your tax issue, so you can keep your passport.