Non-payment of taxes could lead to loss of passport in US

23 November 2015

People who had not paid their taxes in the US might not be able to make trips abroad. A provision in the highway bill, currently under reconciliation by the conference committee, would allow the State Department to nullify passports of those owing $50,000 or more in federal taxes, interest and penalties.

According to estimates by the Joint Committee on Taxation, the law would raise $398 million over the next 10 years, The Wall Street Journal reported. The rule would not apply to those who were paying down their delinquent taxes to the Internal Revenue Service in a payment plan or legally contesting a tax case.

The provisions also allow exceptions to be made in the case of a ''humanitarian'' emergency.
The rule would apply only to those people whom the IRS had issued a lien or levy against and who had not yet worked out a repayment plan to satisfy the debt.

In case the provision were to pass next month, it would take effect on 1 January 2016. For those who had not figured out what highways might have to do with taxes, the measure was expected to raise nearly $400 million over a decade that could be used for funding development of infrastructure.

People faced with a big tax bill tended to get overwhelmed and postpone dealing with it for awhile. However, the IRS typically issued a levy or lien six months after sending the initial bill and when the delinquent taxpayer eventually did come forward to set up a repayment plan, they might lose their passport for a time anyway.

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