If you owe the IRS over $52,000 in back taxes, including penalties and interest, you could lose your passport if you’re not involved in a good faith attempt to resolve the debt. This is considered a “seriously delinquent” tax debt under the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act).
The FAST Act requires the IRS to notify the State Department about seriously delinquent tax debts and authorizes the State Department to revoke the passports of the taxpayers.
A seriously delinquent tax debt is any legally enforceable federal tax liability above a threshold that is adjusted annually. That 2019 threshold is $52,000.
The IRS will not notify the State Department, however, when:
- The taxpayer has entered into an installment agreement or offer in compromise that is being paid on time
- The taxpayer has, in a timely fashion, requested a collection due process hearing connected to a tax levy or innocent spouse claim
If you don’t meet those exceptions, the IRS is required by law to notify the State Department of your delinquency.
These notices indicate your passport may be pulled
Once you have been labeled a seriously delinquent tax debtor, the IRS will send you two notices:
- Notice CP508C: Explaining what you need to do to resolve the debt
- Letter 6152, “Notice of Intent to Request U.S. Department of State to Revoke Your Passport,” giving you another opportunity to resolve the debt
You have 30 days from the date of Letter 6152 to contact the IRS and make a good faith attempt to pay what you owe. However, the IRS can recommend the State Department revoke your passport even after your good faith effort if, for example:
- You promised to pay but failed to do so
- You could have used offshore assets to pay the debt but chose not to
I want to travel soon. How do I get my passport back?
You can prevent the loss of your passport by entering into a payment plan, making a satisfactory offer in compromise or proving the debt is not legally enforceable.
If your passport gets revoked and you have travel plans within 45 days or you live abroad, the IRS can often shorten the processing time by 14 to 21 days if you contact them right away. You will need to provide proof of your travel plans or residence abroad, a copy of the State Department’s letter revoking your passport or denying your application. You will have to pay off the debt or enter into an acceptable repayment plan or offer in compromise. Paying the debt down to less than $52,000 will not be enough.
If you are seriously delinquent to the IRS, call a tax attorney for assistance.