By Paul Carlino
If you owe more than US$53,000 to the Internal Revenue Service (including penalties and interest), the US State Department can deny your pending passport application or revoke your current passport. If you are a US citizen living abroad, passport revocation not only limits your ability to get back into the US, but also impedes day-to-day activities such as banking, maintaining a work visa, and enrolling a child in school.
To avoid complications with your passport, it is important to respond to any notices you receive from the IRS. The IRS notifies taxpayers of outstanding tax liabilities by regular mail sent to the taxpayer’s last known address, which is generally the address used on the last tax return filed by the taxpayer. Since 2018, the IRS is also allowed to certify “seriously delinquent” tax debt (that is, debt in excess of US$53,000, adjusted yearly for inflation) to the State Department for action with regard to an individual’s passport.
If you have seriously delinquent tax debt certified by the IRS to the State Department, and State is considering your passport application, it will hold the application for 90 days to give you an opportunity to resolve any errors with the IRS, pay the tax debt in full, or enter into an alternative payment arrangement.
If you have seriously delinquent tax debt and already have a passport, the IRS allows 30 days to resolve your account before it sends a revocation referral to the State. If you agree you owe a debt but can’t pay the full amount, you can arrange to satisfy the liability through a payment plan. If you disagree with the amount owed, you must work with the IRS to resolve the issue.
If you are not comfortable contacting the IRS yourself, you can authorize a tax professional to do it for you or contact the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) office for your state or at its office for US citizens living abroad. TAS is an independent organization within the IRS designed to protect taxpayer rights. The TAS website, www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov, has the most up to date contact information.
If your passport is revoked and you are overseas, you may be eligible for a limited passport good for direct return to the US. Contact the nearest US Embassy or Consular Agency for assistance. Obtaining a limited validity passport is similar to a regular passport application process. Passport applications made at the San Miguel Consular Agency are adjudicated by a Consular Officer at the US Embassy in Mexico City or at the Consulate General in Nuevo Laredo.