You’ve had enough of Atlanta’s unpredictable winter weather. The rain, the ice, the blizzards the shut the city down for days… you’ve decided it’s time for a change of pace. You’ve booked yourself a condo in the Bahamas, and you’re not planning to return until spring. However, when you get to the airport, the customs officer pulls you aside.
If you’re behind on your taxes, you may encounter some unforeseen obstacles if you travel abroad. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act—which was first passed in December, 2015—is designed to help enforce accountability on people owing back taxes. Beginning this year, the Internal Revenue Service will be putting this law into effect. Here’s how it works:
If you owe a substantial amount in back taxes (more than $51,000—including penalties and interest), then the IRS is obligated to inform the State Department about your delinquency. This notification can affect your travel plans in a number of ways:
- If you’re applying for a new passport or passport renewal, the State Department may deny your application.
- If you already have a current passport, the State Department may revoke it.
How do I know if I’m affected?
If you owe the IRS more than $51,000, the FAST Act could affect you if the IRS has sent you a Notice of Federal Tax Lien and:
- The expiration date by which to challenge the lien has already passed or
- There is now a levy on your property.
You are not impacted by the FAST Act under certain circumstances that diminish your own fault in the back taxes you owe. Examples include:
- You have filed for bankruptcy.
- You were a victim of identity theft.
- You were a victim of a disaster or other IRS-determined hardship.
- You are in the process of making things right with the IRS.
Don’t let your back taxes get in the way of your travel plans this winter. Keep yourself informed, and talk to an experienced tax attorney about how you can resolve your tax debt.