IRS may deny 362K Americans passports for unpaid taxes

Have overdue tax bills? Now the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may deny you a passport.

At least 362,000 Americans are in danger of having their passports denied or being unable to renew unless they pay up, according to the IRS. Some have already experienced the penalty.

The passport policy is the consequence of a law that went into effect this year and applies to those with more than $51,000 in “seriously delinquent” tax payments, including penalties and interest. It also generally applies to those for whom a federal lien has been filed.

The IRS has begun notifying the State Department of individuals that have tax debt above the qualifying amount, after which time an individual may be denied a passport, denied renewal or potentially even have his current document revoked. If an individual is out of the country, the IRS said the State Department may issue a limited validity passport in order to permit his return into the U.S.

The policy appears to be working for the tax agency. As of June, 220 people paid $11.5 million in overdue tax payments in full, while 1,400 signed installment agreements, The Wall Street Journal reported.

You are not susceptible to the penalty – even if you have debt in excess of $51,000 – if you have an installment or settlement agreement, are in bankruptcy, have been identified as a victim of tax-related identity theft, have declared hardship or live within a recognized disaster area.

If the IRS is sending your name to the State Department, you will be notified.