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Owe the IRS Money? Your passport may be revoked!

Loss of your rights to travel abroad

Did you know that if you owe taxes, money, to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) it can ruin your foreign travel plans?

This is a little-known fact, but it happens to unsuspecting (and shocked) travelers quite often!

Losing your passport privilege preventing you from going on that long-planned trip in four months from now is only one aspect of this powerful IRS action.

If you need to renew your passport before your trip or during a foreign country extended stay you may also be denied your passport renewal!

Flying abroad
Photo: © Captain Les

How the passport revocation or renewal denial process works

Fortunately, this serious threat to your passport status does not apply to you if you owe less than $51,000. You first must reach tax delinquency of the U.S. Congress-specified amount of $51,000 or more before your debt becomes a threat to your passport.

At $51,000 or more you are considered a “seriously delinquent tax debtor”.

1st Step: The IRS

You will first receive a notice from the IRS to give you a chance to respond and clear your debt, perhaps working out a payment plan, or an offer in compromise?

At that point, you will several options for settling your debt.

Also, do a Google search for “tax relief” or “tax resolution”. Then you can find an attorney or someone else professionally qualified to help you in your area. Such a service may even be able to settle your debt with the IRS for pennies on the dollar.

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Special circumstances

The IRS does, however, consider certain exceptions that would not result in your case proceeding to the State Department level.

There will be no action taken on your passport if you are a victim of unforeseen circumstances, or even fraud.

For example, if you are a victim of a natural disaster, or going through a bankruptcy your valid passport-status may be safely within reach.

Need for US passport for travelling abroad

2nd Step: The U.S. State Department

If the IRS is not getting a resolution to your case, they may report your tax delinquency to the State Department. You see, the IRS is not the agency that will revoke your passport or deny your passport renewal.

However, the IRS is the Government, and so is the State Department, and they work together!

At this point the State Department may revoke your passport until your IRS debt-problem has been resolved.

What if you are abroad when the State Department acts against your passport?

Valid passport travel

Being abroad when action is taken against you does not mean you are now stuck in that country. If the State Department revokes your passport while you are on the beach in Tahiti, sipping on your Mai Tai, continue enjoying the moment!

The State Department will issue you a “Limited Passport” which will replace your revoked passport.

The limited passport will be a valid replacement passport, but only to get you back to the U.S.

What if my passport was revoked, but now I have an agreement with the IRS?

As soon as you make a settlement agreement with the IRS they will do what they call a “decertification”. At that point they will notify the State Department that your case has been satisfactorily updated.

The IRS then notifies the State Department within 30 days.

Once the State Department clears you, your passport status will again allow you to travel abroad with no restriction. You will also be able to renew your passport without restrictions.

So, what do you think about the power that the Government has over you to revoke your passport if you owe money to the IRS? Is it fair? Do you feel it goes against your Constitutional rights? State your opinion below.

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