The IRS is strongly encouraging taxpayers who are seriously behind on their taxes to pay what they owe or enter into a payment agreement with the IRS to avoid putting their passports in jeopardy.
Beginning in January, the IRS will begin implementation of new procedures affecting individuals with what they call “seriously delinquent tax debts.” The IRS defines this as owing 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.
These procedures are part of the provisions of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, signed into law in December 2015. The FAST Act requires the IRS to notify the State Department of taxpayers the IRS has certified as owing a seriously delinquent tax debt (see Notice 2018-1).
The FAST Act also requires the State Department to deny their passport application or deny renewal of their passport. In some cases, the State Department may revoke their passport.
There are several ways taxpayers can avoid having the IRS notify the State Department of their seriously delinquent tax debt. They include:
*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 Dept 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
The IRS also states that a passport won’t be at risk under this program for any taxpayer:
*Who is in bankruptcy
*Who is identified by the IRS as a victim of tax-related identity theft
*Whose account the IRS has determined is currently not collectible due to hardship
*Who is located within a federally declared disaster area
*Who has a request pending with the IRS for an installment agreement
*Who has a pending offer in compromise with the IRS
*Who has an IRS accepted adjustment that will satisfy the debt in full
For taxpayers serving in a combat zone who 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.
In general, taxpayers behind on their obligations should come forward and pay what they owe or enter into a payment plan with the IRS. Frequently, taxpayers qualify for one of several relief programs, including the following:
Installment Agreement (9465)- allows you to set up a monthly payment agreement for up to 72 months.
Offer in Compromise- This is an agreement between a taxpayer and the IRS that settles a taxpayer’s 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.