IRS now chasing passports of US expat tax debtors

Published:  24 Oct at 6 PM
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US expat taxpayers who owe money to the IRS are now having their passports seized.

As if being subject to the IRS’s toxic oversight isn’t bad enough, US expatriates who owe money to the US taxman are now having their passports seized. It’s not just a threat, it’s actually happening, as both the taxman and the State Department have the legal right to revoke or cancel the passports of those who’re in debt to the state. At the present time, some 360,000 US expatriates and frequent travellers are thought to be affected.

During 2018, the IRS has received payments of $11.5 million from 220 expatriates who are now considered debt free, with a further 1,400 agreeing to an installment plan. Thousands more are waiting in a long queue to settle their outstanding tax debts. State Department and IRS rules which must be followed before a passport is revoked are strict, as tax debts need to qualify as legally enforceable before they can be acted on.

A Notice of Federal Tax Lien or Notice of Intent to Levy must be issued, and the taxpayer is able to negotiate a repayment schedule or actually appeal the notice. In addition, at least 30 day’s notice must be given before a passport is revoked. After this time, should no settlement have been reached or no reply received from the debtor, the passport will be cancelled by the State Department.

The process is a major threat to expats should they not realise they’re in this position, as travelling or renewing a visa will be impossible. In addition, the tax owed must now be paid in full, alternative arrangements must be made with the IRS, or proof must be given that the estimated bill is wrong.
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