According to a provision contained within the federal highway and transit funding bill presently under negotiation in Washington, U.S. citizens with $50,000 or more in “seriously delinquent” tax obligations could be at risk of revocation, limitation or denial of their passports. The $50,000 threshold for passport-related consequences includes interest in penalties, sums that tend to accumulate quickly and could jeopardize travel for a surprising number of individuals.

If you have questions about the negative consequences of being delinquent on your taxes and passing the $50,000 threshold of money owed to the IRS, speak with a Baltimore tax attorney at Rosenberg Martin Greenberg to discuss your options.

Specifics of proposed action

The details of the proposal provide that the State Department would have the ability to suspend, revoke or deny new passport privileges for those with so-called “seriously” delinquent tax debt, much the same way individual states prevent driver’s license renewals or car registrations for those with outstanding tickets. It should be noted that passport-related penalties would only go into effect for taxpayers against whom the IRS has already filed a lien or a levy and who have yet to establish a tax repayment plan for their delinquent balance.

Exceptions would also be available for taxpayers in the midst of an active dispute with the IRS administratively or through the courts, as well as those intending to travel for humanitarian or emergency purposes.

Questions remain about proposal

Certain aspects of how the proposed restrictions will be implemented remain unclear, including what happens in cases where a tax lien has been filed by the IRS in error. Procedures for challenging passport-related actions have not yet been determined and questions about the constitutionality on restrictions concerning the right to travel is also viewed as highly debatable.

If the provision passes, it is slated to take effect starting January 1, 2016.

U.S. citizens abroad at particular risk

In particular danger of being negatively affected by the proposed regulation are the millions of Americans who reside abroad and who tend to utilize their passports more regularly than those who live stateside. These individuals also tend to have more complicated financial situations and are likely to be impacted by the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which mandates that financial institutions in other countries provide information to the IRS about accounts held by American taxpayers.

It is in the best interest of such individuals to verify that they are in full compliance with the IRS before ringing in the new year in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Experienced, knowledgeable tax controversy and litigation guidance

For many, the ability to freely travel the globe is essential to both business and personal pursuits. The potential restrictions on that right now under consideration by the federal government must be taken seriously by anyone who regularly uses a U.S. passport or intends to do so in the near future.

If you have unpaid tax obligations and you would like to regain good standing with the IRS, the Maryland tax lawyers at Rosenberg Martin Greenberg invite you to schedule a confidential consultation. To learn more about how we can help, contact Brian J. Crepeau at410.649.4981 or via email at