Entry in and out of the U.S. has just gotten more problematic under a new law for those U.S. citizens who the IRS asserts owes taxes. A new statutory concept has been added to the tax law called “seriously delinquent tax debt”; which is defined by new IRC Section 7345 as a tax that has been assessed, is greater than US$50,000, and where a notice of lien has been filed or levy made.
The administration of passports is the responsibility of the Department of State. [“Passport Act of 1926,” 22 U.S.C. sec. 211a et seq.] The Secretary of State may refuse to issue or renew a passport if the applicant owes child support in excess of $2,500 or owes certain types of Federal debts. The scope of this authority does not extend to rejection or revocation of a passport on the basis of delinquent Federal taxes. Although issuance of a passport does not require a social security number or taxpayer identification number (“TIN”), the applicant is required under the Code to provide such number. Failure to provide a TIN is reported by the State Department to the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) and may result in a $500 fine.
Under the Senate Amendment, the Secretary of State is required to deny a passport (or renewal
of a passport) to a seriously delinquent taxpayer and is permitted to revoke any passport
previously issued to such person. In addition to the revocation or denial of passports to delinquent taxpayers, the Secretary of State is authorized to deny an application for a passport if the applicant fails to provide a social security number or provides an incorrect or invalid social security number. With respect to an incorrect or invalid number, the inclusion of an erroneous number is a basis for rejection of the application only if the erroneous number was provided willfully, intentionally, recklessly or negligently. Exceptions to these rules are permitted for emergency or humanitarian circumstances, including the issuance of a passport for short-term use to return to the United States by the delinquent taxpayer.
The provision authorizes limited sharing of information between the Secretary of State and
Secretary of the Treasury. If the Commissioner of Internal Revenue certifies to the Secretary of
the Treasury the identity of persons who have seriously delinquent Federal tax debts as defined
in this provision, the Secretary of the Treasury or his delegate is authorized to transmit such
certification to the Secretary of State for use in determining whether to issue, renew, or revoke a
passport. Applicants whose names are included on the certifications provided to the Secretary of
State are ineligible for a passport. The Secretary of State and Secretary of the Treasury are held
harmless with respect to any certification issued pursuant to this provision.