If you currently have outstanding tax debt, you may be wondering, “Can you get a passport if you owe taxes?”. The answer depends on the severity of your debt. According to the IRS, you will not be able to renew or apply for a passport if you are considered to owe “seriously delinquent” back taxes in the amount of $53,000 or more. Based on these conditions, the State Department can also revoke your current passport. If this applies to you, it’s wise to figure out a plan to repay your tax debt before you book any flights out of the country. So, can you get a passport if you owe back taxes?—yes, if your tax debt is not considered seriously delinquent. In this post, we’ll cover how to figure out whether you’re disqualified from obtaining a passport due to your back taxes, as well as how to renew or apply for a new passport while you still owe debt to the IRS.
- Passports & Back Taxes: The Basics
- Applying for a New Passport If You Owe Back Taxes
- Renewing a Passport If You Owe Back Taxes
- Traveling When You Owe Back Taxes
- Pay Back Taxes & Get Your Passport
Passports & Back Taxes: The BasicsOne of the ways the government can intervene to ensure they receive taxes that are owed to them is by restricting passport privileges. The relationship between U.S. passports and taxes is that it gives the IRS a measure of control to incentivize people to repay in order to be able to travel outside the country. Once the IRS determines that you are considered seriously delinquent on back taxes, the agency will notify the State Department. When that action has been taken, the State Department is able to deny your application for a passport or passport renewal. The State Department also then has the right to revoke your passport, rendering you unable to travel outside the U.S. until you resolve your tax debt. That said, not every instance of tax debt will result in passport restrictions. According to Business Insider, as of January 2020, the average tax debt is $16,849, which is well below the amount the IRS considers seriously delinquent. This means that for most people asking, “Can you get a passport if you owe taxes?”—the answer is yes. However, if you are one of the individuals who finds themselves in severe tax debt, your ability to use your passport may be limited. If you do find yourself in the position where you can’t use your passport because you owe back taxes, our experts can help. At Community Tax, we are skilled at tax debt relief and can help you make arrangements with the IRS to repay your back taxes. In some cases, we may even be able to help reduce the amount you are required to repay. In order to determine which position you are in, it’s important to understand the conditions around when passports are denied or revoked because of tax debt.
Can Owing Back Taxes Prevent You from Getting a Passport?Yes, you can be denied a passport if you owe back taxes. Not only can you be denied when applying for a new passport, but your renewal may also be turned down. However, there is some leeway in how these actions are deployed. Instead of an automatic denial, your application will be held for 90 days. This gives you time to determine whether the certification as seriously delinquent is incorrect or to make payment arrangements with the IRS.
Can the IRS Put a Hold on Your Passport?Yes, your current passport can be revoked or put on hold. The hold will be released when you make arrangements for repayment with the IRS, whether that be paying in full or setting up a payment plan.
What Disqualifies You from Getting a Passport?Can owing back taxes prevent you from getting a passport? Yes. But there are also many other factors that may be standing between you and your travel plans. In addition to being denied a passport if you owe taxes, you may also be disqualified if:
- There is an outstanding state or federal warrant for your arrest
- One of the conditions of your parole or probation is that you remain in the U.S.
- You owe more than $2,500 in past-due child support (Unless you have an arrangement with your state agency)
- You have a warrant for a felony in a foreign country
- You have unpaid federal loans
- You are currently incarcerated
How Is Seriously Delinquent Tax Debt Determined?Only certain tax debt is considered to be in “seriously delinquent” status. If your back taxes are considered seriously delinquent, you will receive a CP508C Notice from the IRS. However, there are a variety of exceptions that are made when it comes to which back taxes are used to calculate your delinquency status. If your all or part of your tax debt falls within one of the following categories, it may be excluded from what is considered seriously delinquent:
- Debt that is part of an approved installment agreement and is being paid on time.
- Debt that is part of an IRS-approved Offer in Compromise and is being paid on time.
- Debt that is currently under suspended collection on the ground of innocent spouse relief.
- Debt that is part of a collection due process hearing that has been requested as part of innocent spouse relief.
Applying for a New Passport If You Owe Back TaxesYou might be thinking, “How can I get a passport if I owe taxes?”. While it depends on your circumstances, it is possible to get a new passport, even if you owe a large amount in back taxes. If you want to apply for a new passport but are considered seriously delinquent, you will need to figure out a way to pay your taxes. Whether that is by arranging a payment plan, Offer in Compromise, or paying a lump sum through a tax amnesty program. Once you fall below the seriously delinquent status, the IRS will reverse their certification. This is typically completed within 30 days of payment. However, in some cases, the IRS may be able to expedite this process if circumstances are urgent. Once your passport privileges are reinstated, you are free to apply for a new passport. If your passport application was submitted and put on hold because of your tax debt status and you are within the 90-day timeline, the application process will resume where you left off. If you have not yet applied for your passport because you received a seriously delinquent notice, you will need to follow the standard new passport application process.
Renewing a Passport If You Owe Back TaxesThere are several important steps to take if you are trying to renew your passport but owe back taxes:
- Ensure that you are not seriously delinquent (otherwise, your application for renewal will be denied or put on hold).
- If you are seriously delinquent, you need to contact a tax professional and begin the process of negotiating tax resolution with the IRS.
- Submit the required information and documents for passport renewal (Form DS-82, current passport, photo, etc.)
- Mail in your renewal application.