The power of the IRS may one day extend to Americans’ summer vacations. Congress is pondering a proposal that, if approved, would keep Americans from getting a passport or revoking current passports if they owe $50,000 or more in back taxes. With the federal government desperate for revenue, members of Congress are looking for any possible money that may be owed.
Sen. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, initially proposed the measure, but it has been incorporated into a broader bill to provide funding for federal highways and highway safety programs. It already has passed the Senate and is awaiting approval from the House of Representatives.
Critics said that passports and taxes have nothing to do with highway safety and funding. Still, should the law pass, it would allow the State Department to place a passport ban on taxpayers who owe money.
Passports could be granted or restored in an emergency or for humanitarian needs. Paying outstanding tax debts also would allow for a passport restoration. The bill, if passed, would apply to those who owe more than $50,000 and have had a tax lien filed against them. The IRS files taxes liens when back taxes are owed and even as taxpayers have a protest pending.
Supporters of the measure contend that owing back taxes and being denied a passport is akin to owing child support and not being allowed a passport. The State Department can deny or revoke a passport when a parent owes more than $2,500 in back payments.
Source: MSN Money, “Owe back taxes? No travel for you,” April 12, 2012