Can you get a passport if you owe taxes?
Maybe not. Last year, a new law expanded the Internal Revenue Service’s power over your passport. Here’s what you need to know if you owe the IRS money and you need to travel.
When Can the IRS Take Your Passport?
The answer to the question “Can you get a passport if you owe taxes?” used to be “yes,” at least most of the time.
But starting this year, the IRS will begin notifying the State Department of seriously delinquent tax debts. This process is called “certification.” If the State Department receives a certification from the IRS, you will not pass go. You will not collect a new passport (or a passport renewal).
And you may not even be able to use your existing passport. Under IRS 7345, they do have the power to limit its use or revoke it entirely.
So, can you get a passport if you owe taxes in 2017? As the Magic 8 Ball says, “Outlook not so good.”
That said, the IRS can only certify tax debt under the following conditions:
- Your tax debt totals $50,000 or more. (This is not as generous as it might seem. The $50,000 threshold includes interest and penalties, and those can add up quickly.)
- The IRS has filed a notice of federal tax lien, and you’ve already had your Collection Due Process hearing under IRC § 6320, or you’ve missed your chance to do so, OR
- The IRS has issued a levy against you.
Even if you owe the IRS money, you can still get a passport if the following circumstances apply to you:
- You’ve negotiated an installment agreement, and you’re paying as required.
- You’ve settled the debt with the IRS via an offer in compromise, or with the Justice Department via a settlement agreement.
- The IRS has notified you of a levy or lien, but you’ve requested a Collection Due Process hearing.
- You’ve requested “Innocent Spouse Relief” and the IRS has agreed to suspend the collection activity against you.
How to Find Out if You Owe the IRS
Usually, if you owe the IRS $50,000 or more and they’re at the point where they’re ready to seize your property with a lien or a levy, you already know you have tax problems.
Additionally, the IRS will send a notice in the mail if they plan to take action against your passport.
But if you’re not sure how much you owe, here’s how to find out:
- Individual taxpayers can call 1 (800) 829-1040 or use the IRS online tool to view your tax account.
- Business taxpayers can call 1 (800) 829-4933.
- If you’re overseas, call (267) 941-1000.
What to Do if You Owe the IRS And Need a Passport
The IRS is certainly not the most well-loved federal agency. However, they do offer a variety of ways for taxpayers to get back in their good graces.
To learn more about what to do if you owe the IRS and can’t pay, the following guides may be helpful:
That said, if the IRS is coming for your passport, the fastest solution (aside from paying the balance in full immediately) is probably to set up an installment plan. Remember, as long as you have an installment plan set up and you’re paying as promised, you can get a passport.
Can You Get a Passport if You Owe Taxes?
So, no need to panic. . . you can get a passport if you owe taxes, as long as your taxes aren’t “seriously delinquent” or you’ve worked out payment arrangements with the IRS.
What happens if you apply for a passport, only to find out you don’t qualify due to back taxes?
In that case, the Department of State will hold your application for 90 days, to give you time to get things straightened out with the IRS. During that time, you can
- Pay your tax debt in full,
- Get any errors resolved, or
- Make satisfactory payment arrangements.
Once you’re off the IRS “naughty list,” they will notify the State Department within 30 days, and you can get your passport.
Note: If you’re on the certification list, there is nothing RushMyPassport (or any other expeditor) can do to get your passport issued more quickly. So, if you think there might be a problem, you should verify your tax status before you place an order.
But once the IRS has cleared you, we can help you make up for lost time. We’ll expedite your passport application and get your passport on its way back to you in as little as 24 hours, with no need to make an appointment or wait in line at a passport agency.
Need a passport in a hurry? Contact us today!