Did you know that the IRS has the power to prevent a citizen from obtaining or renewing a passport when his tax debt is considered “seriously delinquent”? If you are concerned that your tax debt may prevent you from enjoying an exotic vacation or even walking your daughter down the aisle at her destination wedding, keep reading to learn what power the IRS has over your passport, and what steps you can take today to stop the IRS from blocking your passport application.

The IRS will send a certificate of delinquent tax debt to the Department of State if a taxpayer owes significant tax debt. This typically means a taxpayer owes over $55,000 to the IRS in back taxes, penalties and interest for which the IRS has filed a Notice of Federal Tax Lien and the period to challenge it has expired, or the IRS has issued a levy.

As of December 2021, certified seriously delinquent tax debtors owed over $240,000 that spanned over 7 years and had not worked with the IRS to resolve their debt. According to the law, the State Department generally will not renew their passport or issue a new passport after receiving this certification from the IRS, and in some cases may revoke the passport.

The good news: once a citizen has worked with the IRS to resolve the tax debt issue, and is in tax compliance via a number of programs available (offer in compromise, installment agreement/payment plan, or listed as currently not collectible), the tax debt is considered to be no longer “seriously delinquent” and the certification to the State Department is reversed.

Heritage Tax Representation (513) 900- 9513 or (866) 316-1860 can assist taxpayers when deciding which strategy is best for their current financial situation. The IRS is concerned with collecting as much tax debt as possible – and we strongly discourage anyone approach the IRS without protection in the form of competent representation.

Steps you can take immediately to resolve your passport issues with the State Department:

  1. Ask your tax practitioner about a partial pay installment agreement.
  2. File any unfiled tax returns and make quarterly tax payments for the current tax year.
  3. If your current financial situation is dire, consult with your tax practitioner about a current non-collectible status or offer in compromise. Remember, these strategies are not for everyone.
  4. If you are able to sell a collection, real estate, or borrow cash, consider getting the balance of your tax debt below $55,000 and then entering into an installment agreement where you make monthly payments for 72 months.

The denial of passports webpage has more information about the passport program.