Wall Street Journal, Thousands of Americans Will Be Denied a Passport Because of Unpaid Taxes:
At least 362,000 Americans with overdue tax debts will be denied new or renewed passports if they don’t settle these debts, the Internal Revenue Service says.
Recently IRS officials have provided new details on the enforcement of a law Congress passed in late 2015. It requires the IRS and State Department to deny passports or revoke them for taxpayers who have more than $51,000 of overdue tax debt. Enforcement began in February.
An IRS spokesman says the 362,000 people are current tax debtors who are affected by the law. The IRS is sending their names in batches to the State Department, a process the tax agency aims to finish by year’s end. A State Department spokesman confirmed that it has already denied passports to some debtors.
IRS Division Commissioner Mary Beth Murphy said in late June that for now U.S. authorities are denying passports rather than revoking them. So, many tax debtors with current passports should be able to travel abroad, but they won’t be able to renew their passports; those without passports will be denied them if they apply.
The new enforcement is having an effect: Ms. Murphy said that one tax debtor paid $1 million to avoid passport denial. As of late June, 220 people had handed over $11.5 million to pay their debts in full, and 1,400 others had signed installment agreements, according to an IRS spokesman.
National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson is critical of some of the new procedures, however. One objection is that the IRS notifies a tax debtor at roughly the same time it tells the State Department that someone qualifies for passport denial. This may not leave enough time to resolve tax issues and have the IRS and the State Department lift restrictions, she said.