Friday, April 6, 2012
Fox Business, Owe the IRS? You're Not Going Anywhere:
A new bill making its way through Congress could allow the federal government to prevent Americans who owe back taxes from leaving the country. The provision is part of Senate Bill 1813, which was introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in November and passed by the Senate on March 14 “to reauthorize Federal-aid highway and highway safety construction programs, and for other purposes.”
Those “other purposes” have come to include a little-known amendment recently introduced by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid that would allow the State Department to revoke, deny or limit passports for anyone the IRS certifies as having “a seriously delinquent tax debt in an amount in excess of $50,000.”
While the provision does make exceptions if the debt “is being paid in a timely manner” or “in emergency circumstances or for humanitarian reasons,” it doesn’t require that a person be charged with tax evasion before having their passport revoked -- only that the IRS has filed a notice of lien or levy against them.
Constitutional Attorney Angel Reyes says that’s a violation of due process and is unconstitutional. “It takes away your right to enter or exit the country based upon a non-judicial IRS determination that you owe taxes,” Reyes told FOX Business. “It’s a scary thought that our congressional representatives want to give the IRS the power to detain US citizens over taxes, which could very well be in dispute.” ...
[T]he “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” or “MAP-21″ passed the Senate in a vote of 74-22, and is now headed for the GOP-controlled house where it’s expected to meet stronger opposition. ...
Niels Lesniewski, Editor of CQ SenateWatch, says legally the provision has precedent on its side. ... “Existing law says that passports may not be reviewed for applicants owing child support in excess of $2,500. So I think supporters would say: ‘You can’t get a passport if you don’t pay child support, but you can get a passport if you don’t pay taxes?” he said.
(Hat Tip: Ann Murphy.)