08:49 GMT05 December 2020
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    Whether at home or abroad, Americans who owe a certain amount of money in back taxes may see their passports confiscated as the US’ Internal Revenue Service (IRS) steps up enforcement of federal law.

    Last week, the IRS announced that in conjunction with the US Department of State, it would heighten enforcement of the 2015 Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, which allows the federal government to deny a citizen’s new passport application or even revoke an existing passport if the individual owes a “seriously delinquent” tax debt totaling $52,000 or more - fees and penalties included.

    The August 8 news release from the IRS notes that prior to them notifying the State Department of an individual’s seriously delinquent debt, the person in question will receive a “Letter 6152, Notice of Intent to Request US Department of State Revoke Your Passport,” giving them 30 days to contact the federal agency and show good faith in attempting to resolve their tax debt.

    These attempts can include an installment agreement between the individual and the IRS, the agency’s acceptance of a so-called compromise offer based on income and other personal financial factors or other negotiations listed in the agency’s CP508C Notice section.

    “Our goal was to remind people that this program has been in operation but additionally that it is our intention to begin referring cases to the U.S. Department of State for passport revocation,” IRS spokeswoman Cecilia Barreda told CNBC.

    Barreda added that 400,000 people have been notified of their at-risk status since the program first began back in February 2018. However, It’s only recently that the federal agency said it will begin actively sending cases to the State Department.

    Following the program’s inception, the IRS received a total of $11.5 million in back taxes from 220 individuals by the end of June 2018, and another 1,400 people with seriously delinquent tax debt entered into payment agreements with the IRS by July 13, 2018.

    According to CNBC, the IRS would not release more recent data on the program.

    The IRS highlighted that a number of situations, including bankruptcy, residency in a “federally declared disaster area” and falling victim to “tax-related identity theft” could allow the IRS to reverse the seriously delinquent status of an individual.

    The agency also noted that those serving in combat zones will not have their passports revoked during their time overseas.


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