U.S. Internal Revenue Service Ramps up Passport Revocation Program

In a News Release dated 8 August 2019, the U.S. IRS strongly urged individuals with significant tax debt to contact the agency to avoid having their passport revoked or renewal denied. 

Taxpayers who owe the IRS $52,000 or more in unpaid tax debt are referred to the State Department for possible passport denial or revocation.

According to the National Taxpayer Advocate’s most recent report, by mid-May of 2019 the IRS had sent just short of 390,000 certification notices to taxpayers.  Of those, some 100,000 had achieved de-certification by working with the IRS to resolve their tax debt, but many others had lost the ability to travel abroad. Most of the rest had been sent along to the State Department for processing. 

As explained by the IRS in its News Release, a taxpayer with a qualifying delinquency will receive a Notice CP508C, “Notice of Certification of Your Seriously Delinquent Federal Tax Debt to the State Department,” and Letter 6152, “Notice of Intent to Request U.S. Department of State Revoke Your Passport” before IRS actually refers the matter to State.  Taxpayers must call or contact the IRS within 30 days of receipt of those notices to avoid actual referral to the Department of State.  IRS also cautioned that it may ask State to revoke the passport if there is evidence that the taxpayer could use offshore assets to pay but chooses not to do so or negotiates a de-certification but then fails to pay.

IRS also provides an expedited resolution process for taxpayers who live abroad or are scheduled to travel within 45 days, which can cut between 14 to 21 days off a process that ordinarily takes 30 days or longer. 

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How This Will Impact Mobility

Business travelers and mobile employees with significant tax debt may be seriously impacted by the passport revocation provision. Employers should consider educating business travelers and mobile employees about the risks to ensure that their personnel are not affected. 

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