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Insights from the Team

Traveling When You Owe The IRS Back Taxes

On December 4, 2015, Congress signed a new Highway Tax Bill which authorized the Department of State to “deny, revoke, or limit a passport to any individual upon receiving certification from Treasury that such individual has a seriously delinquent tax debt in excess of $50,000.” (H.R.22 Section 52102, “Revocation or Denial of Passport in Case of Certain Tax Delinquencies.)

Facts as I can gather them:

  • This law is now in effect, as of January 1, 2016.
  • The IRS is compiling a list of affected parties, using a threshold owed amount of $50,000.
  • The $50,000 includes penalties & interest.
  • Intended for debts the IRS considers “seriously delinquent,” BUT means passport could be revoked if any debt over $50,000 is outstanding and the IRS has filed a notice of lien.
  • NOT limited to criminal cases or when IRS thinks you are fleeing from a tax debt.
  • Exceptions:
    • You have an IRS-acceptable payment plan in progress, or
    • Collection on the debt has been suspended because of a case in audit or that has gone to appeals.


  • As of yet unclear when the IRS will actually begin to inform Secretary of State of delinquencies upon which to take action.
  • You may be issued emergency dispensations for health or humanitarian reasons, and you may be allowed to return home if your passport is revoked while abroad, but this is unconfirmed and unclear how long a dispensation would take.

$50,000 piles up quickly, especially including penalties & interest. If you’re concerned about the IRS revoking your passport, contact your Taxman right away.

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