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Tax debt and your passport status

The IRS obviously wants taxpayers to pay any back taxes they may owe. For this reason, the agency is encouraging individuals to enter into payment agreements to resolve this issue.

The IRS has the ability to entice individuals into entering such agreements. For example, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act requires the State Department to deny passport applications or reject renewal of passports when notified by the IRS that an individual is seriously delinquent in paying their taxes.

Those at risk of losing their passport

Even for those seriously behind in paying their back taxes, the IRS cannot require the State Department to revoke passports in all instances. One’s passport is not at risk if:

  • The delinquent taxpayer is in bankruptcy
  • The individual is a victim of tax-related identity theft
  • There is a determination of a hardship case by the IRS
  • The taxpayer is residing in a federally declared disaster area
  • There is a pending installment agreement or offer in compromise with the IRS
  • There has been some other accepted adjustment concerning the tax debt

Michigan taxpayers can avoid IRS notification to the State Department by paying the total tax debt; payment of the debt through an installment agreement, offers in compromise or settlement agreement with the Department of justice; appealing a pending collection process; or by making a request for innocent spouse relief.

The importance of a timely response

The IRS has the ability to make life miserable for you should you owe tax debt. The IRS can garnish wages, seize property and, in some instances, pursue criminal penalties.

It is therefore important to take immediate action in the event you are severely delinquent in taxes. There are a number of agreements that the IRS will welcome regarding resolution of a delinquent tax issue. However, the IRS will not do all of the work for you.

There are knowledgeable tax attorneys who can help you understand your options. They can also provide representation to reduce or eliminate consequences that may arise due to tax debt.

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