Do You Owe Back Taxes? Your Passport Might Be Revoked

Photo by Vara I /

Owing Uncle Sam back taxes can seriously hamper your travel plans outside the United States.

A newly implemented federal law — known as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or FAST Act — requires the Internal Revenue Service to provide the U.S. State Department with a list of Americans who have seriously delinquent tax debt, CBS MoneyWatch reports.

The State Department can then deny, revoke or limit passports for the delinquent taxpayers. Forbes explains:

“The law isn’t limited to criminal tax cases, or even cases where the IRS thinks you are trying to flee. The idea of the law is to use travel as a way to enforce tax collections.”

Although the effective date of the law — which was approved by Congress in 2015 and then signed by former President Barack Obama — was Dec. 4, 2015, the IRS now is ready to start implementing it in March.

The law applies to Americans with seriously delinquent tax debt of $50,000 or more who have a tax levy issued or a tax lien filed against them. According to CBS MoneyWatch:

While [$50,000] sounds like a lot, it also includes penalties and interest — and anyone who has been notified about unpaid taxes knows that interest and penalties can add up fast.

CBS MoneyWatch says the IRS considers the following people to be “excepted” from the FAST Act:

  • Individuals who have an installment agreement with the IRS to pay back taxes.
  • Individuals who have settled their back taxes through an offer in compromise or a Justice Department agreement.
  • Individuals who appeal a tax levy through an IRS collection due process hearing.
  • Individuals who file Form 8857 and request innocent spouse relief.

According to Forbes, before it denies a passport, the State Department will hold your application for 90 days to give you time to resolve erroneous certification issues, pay your tax debt in full or enter into a payment agreement with the IRS.

Beginning in March, you can call the National Passport Information Center at 877-487-2778 to discuss your specific situation.

What do you think of this law? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
Replace These 8 Things — for Your Health and Your Budget
Replace These 8 Things — for Your Health and Your Budget

Being frugal isn’t smart if you put off replacing these things. Waiting too long can cost money or even endanger your health.

7 Reasons You Should Not Move for Retirement
7 Reasons You Should Not Move for Retirement

Sunny skies and warm breezes sound great. But in reality, you might be better off retiring closer to home. Here’s why.

How to Avoid Being Surprised by 7 Nasty Expenses
How to Avoid Being Surprised by 7 Nasty Expenses

Major expenses are difficult to predict, but there are ways to make sure you’re protected.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started


Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.