A passport may be denied, revoked or limited if a person has a “seriously delinquent debt” -- defined as an individual’s unpaid, legally enforceable federal tax debt totaling more than $50,000 (including interest and penalties, but subject to an inflation adjustment).
The tax debt is one where:
- Notice of lien or levy has been filed by the IRS.
- There’s no exiting agreement to repay the debt under an installment plan with the IRS or an offer-in-compromise.
- Collection isn’t suspended because of a collection due process hearing or if “innocent spouse relief” has been requested or is pending.
The “Revocation or Denial of Passport in Case of Certain Tax Delinquencies” was passed by Congress in late 2015, but will only start to be enforced in 2017. If one has a seriously delinquent debt, the IRS can notify the State Department and the State Department will not issue or renew a passport after receiving certification from the IRS. A $20,000 tax debt could eventually grow to $50,000 and once labeled “seriously delinquent,” paying down the debt below $50,000 ($49,999 or less) will not reverse a certification until the issue is resolved. Before denying a passport, State Department will hold the passport application for 90 days to allow the individual to resolve the erroneous certification issues, make a full payment, or enter into a payment alternative with the IRS.
The IRS is required to notify the person in writing at the time the IRS certifies seriously delinquent tax debt to the State Department. The IRS is also required to notify the person in writing at the time it reverses certification. The IRS will send written notice by regular mail to the person’s last known address.