Taxes

You may be denied a passport if you owe the IRS money

Stephen Fishman
Tax expert and contributor MileIQ

If you owe the IRS taxes and have a substantial outstanding balance, there are several legal means the government uses to get those past due taxes paid. Continue reading to find out how this may impact you and your future travel plans.  The IRS and State Department have begun implementing a law passed back in 2015 that requires the State Department to deny passports to taxpayers who owe the IRS more than $51,000 in back taxes, penalties, and interest. Taxpayers who owe this much won't be issued a new passport or get old passports renewed if 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.

Before denying a passport, the State Department will hold your application for 90 days to allow you to try to resolve your tax debt. To do so, you must:

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  • pay the entire balance due
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  • enter into an installment agreement with the IRS allowing you to pay the debt over time
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  • get the IRS to accept an offer in compromise to satisfy the debt for less than the full amount due
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  • enter into a settlement agreement with the Justice Department to satisfy the debt
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  • request innocent spouse relief, or
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  • make a timely request for a collection due process hearing in connection with a levy to collect the debt.

Consular Affairs (CA) is the public face of the Department of State for millions of people around the world. CA is responsible for the welfare and protection of U.S. citizens abroad, for the issuance of passports and other documentation to citizens and nationals, and for the protection of U.S. border security and the facilitation of legitimate travel to the United States. CA also has a significant domestic presence, most notably the 29 U.S. Passport agencies and centers, 26 of which deal directly with the U.S. public.

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