Individuals Who Need Passports for Imminent Travel Should Contact IRS to Resolve Tax Debt
The IRS recently reiterated its warning that taxpayers may not be able to renew a current passport or obtain a new passport if they owe federal taxes. To avoid delays in travel plans, taxpayers need to take prompt action to resolve their tax issues.
In January of last year, the IRS began implementing new procedures affecting individuals with “seriously delinquent tax debts.” These new procedures implement provisions of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. The law requires the IRS to notify the State Department of taxpayers the IRS has certified as owing a seriously delinquent tax debt, which is $52,000 or more. The law also requires the State to deny their passport application or renewal. If a taxpayer currently has a valid passport, the State Department may revoke the passport or limit ability to travel outside the United States.
When the IRS certifies a taxpayer to the State Department as owing a seriously delinquent tax debt, they receive a Notice CP508C from the IRS. The notice explains what steps a taxpayer needs to take to resolve the debt. Please note, the IRS doesn’t send copies of the notice to powers of attorney. IRS telephone assistors can help taxpayers resolve the debt; for example, they can help taxpayers set up a payment plan or make them aware of other payment alternatives. Taxpayers shouldn’t delay because some resolutions take longer than others, such as adjusting a prior tax assessment.
When a taxpayer no longer has a seriously delinquent tax debt, because they paid it in full or made another payment arrangement, the IRS will reverse the taxpayer’s certification within 30 days. The State will then remove the certification from the taxpayer’s record, so their passport won’t be at risk under this program. The IRS can expedite the decertification notice to the State Department for a taxpayer who resolves their debt, has a pending passport application and has imminent travel plans or lives abroad with an urgent need for a passport.
A taxpayer with a seriously delinquent tax debt is generally someone who owes the IRS more than $52,000 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.
Before denying a passport renewal or new passport application, the State Department will hold the taxpayer’s application for 90 days to allow them to:
- Resolve any erroneous certification issues,
- Make full payment of the tax debt, or
- Enter a satisfactory payment arrangement with the IRS.
For information on ways to resolve tax issues and unpaid tax relief programs, visit IRS.gov.