Last updated: 03:37 PM ET, Wed January 06 2016

IRS Officially Gains Power to Revoke or Deny Passports

Impacting Travel | Donald Wood | January 06, 2016

IRS Officially Gains Power to Revoke or Deny Passports

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Congress has officially enacted a law that gives the Internal Revenue Service the ability to recommend the denial or revocation of passports for citizens with unpaid taxes.

According to Laura Saunders of The Wall Street Journal, the IRS can request that the State Department revoke, deny or limit passports to any United States citizen that owes at least $50,000 worth of unpaid federal taxes.

The law was passed as part of the larger Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, and the Joint Committee on Taxation estimated that the new focus on tax delinquents would help raise $398 million over 10 years.

In a report from Robert Wood of, the $50,000 worth of unpaid taxes also includes penalties and interest. The new law states that citizens contesting a tax bill or those with a signed installment agreement would be exempt from the passport denials.

There are also administrative exceptions to the law, which would allow the State Department to issue passports in the case of emergencies or humanitarian purposes. It is unknown how this process will work or how long it will take to gain the exemptions.

While the law is already officially enacted, it is still facing backlash from critics who claim limiting travel is unconstitutional. There are also many citizens who question the reliability of the IRS, including insider Elizabeth MacDonald, who said:

“Yes, people should pay what they owe, especially if they want to leave the country. But given the fact that the IRS collection unit has at times not been so state of the art, given the mistakes the IRS has already made in wrongfully emptying bank accounts and seizing assets, does anyone really think it’s okay for unelected bureaucrats to seize passports, blocking a basic freedom, that is freedom of movement?”


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