Can the IRS Take My Passport? Indirectly, Yes.
Technically, the IRS can’t take your passport. But the IRS can start the process that leads to the State Department restricting your passport. But – that’s only if you owe a large amount of taxes and you’re not in an agreement to pay the IRS.
Your passport is in danger if you could be classified as a “seriously delinquent tax debtor”
Congress defined this population as people who owe taxes of more than $51,000 and haven’t made any arrangements with the IRS to pay their outstanding debt.
If you’re one of the hundreds of thousands of people affected by this program, the first thing you’ll get is an IRS notice about your outstanding tax bill. If you don’t do anything about your balance, the IRS will eventually notify the State Department. Then, the State Department can restrict your international travel and your passport renewal.
Get into an IRS agreement to pay your taxes to remove the restrictions
When you set up an agreement with the IRS, the IRS will “decertify” you and notify the State Department within 30 days. After that, you’ll be able to travel abroad and/or renew your passport.
People in this situation should immediately set up a payment agreement with the IRS on their outstanding tax bill.
Payment arrangements that will allow the IRS to decertify you include:
- Monthly payment plans (called installment agreements)
- Programs for people in financial hardship (currently not collectible status or an offer in compromise)
If your passport is or may be affected, you’ll probably want a tax professional to help you get a qualifying agreement. Your tax pro can help you figure out the best agreement for your situation and request it from the IRS for you. Learn more about H&R Block’s Tax Audit & Notice Services.
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