Helping U.S. clients with passport revocations from U.S. tax debt
On Dec. 4., 2015, the Fixing America’s Surface
Transportation Act (FAST Act) was enacted and included Sec. 7345, Revocation
or denial of passport in case of certain tax delinquencies, allowing the IRS to
notify the Secretary of State to deny, revoke or limit a U.S. passport upon
certification of an SDTD (Seriously Delinquent Tax Debt).
An SDTD is defined as “an unpaid, legally enforceable
federal tax liability of an individual” which has been assessed, is more than
$50,000 indexed for inflation (current threshold is $51,000), and for which a
lien has been filed under Sec. 6323, Validity and priority against certain
persons. Also, the administrative Collection
Due Process (CDP) rights under Sec. 6320, Notice and opportunity
for hearing upon filing of notice of lien, have been exhausted or lapsed or a
levy has been made under Sec. 6331, Levy and distraint. Note that the tax
liability includes the actual tax plus assessed penalties and interest.
Simply put, if an individual taxpayer currently owes more
than $51,000, a federal tax lien was filed against the taxpayer for all the tax
periods covering the federal tax liability, CDP rights have been exhausted and
a levy has been issued, then the individual could be subject to passport
revocation. Submitting a payment to bring the liability under the $51,000
threshold after an individual has been certified will not reverse the
notification of certification.
There are many facets to the passport revocation process.
Here are some considerations and details to keep in mind:
- · IRM 126.96.36.199.19.2 (12-26-2017) states that an
SDTD includes tax assessments made under an individual’s Social Security number
(SSN) or federal employer identification number (FEIN) including U.S.
individual income taxes, trust fund recovery penalties, business taxes for
which the individual taxpayer is liable and other civil penalties.
- · Assessments, including FBAR penalties assessed
under Title 31 of the Bank Secrecy Act and other non-tax liabilities outside
the scope of the IRS, do not constitute an SDTD.
- · The $50,000 threshold does not include accrued
interest and penalty (IRM 188.8.131.52 (12-20-2017)).
- · The statutory exceptions to passport revocation
or denial include a tax debt being paid in a timely manner under Sec.
6159, Agreements for payment of tax liability in instalments, or Sec.
7122, Compromises, a debt where collection is suspended due to a requested
or pending CDP hearing or a request for relief under the innocent spouse rules
of Sec. 6015, Relief from joint and several liability on joint returns.
Other statutory exclusions are detailed in IRM 184.108.40.206.3 (12-20-2017).
- · The IRS also has the discretion to exclude
categories of tax debt from certification (IRM 220.127.116.11.4 (12-20-17) and
18.104.22.168.19.4 (12-26-17)), even if the debt meets the criteria of an SDTD. Some
of these include debt deemed uncollectible due to hardship, debt resulting from
identity theft or taxpayers in a disaster zone.
- · The IRS is required to notify the taxpayer, in
writing, at the time the certification of an SDTD is made to the State
Department (IRM 22.214.171.124.7 (12-20-17)). The IRS can reverse the certification of an SDTD as outlined in IRM
There is no administrative appeal process for certification
of a taxpayer’s account. Taxpayers whose accounts are certified to the State
Department as an SDTD can file suit in U.S. Tax Court or a District Court of
the U.S. If the court determines the certification is erroneous or should have
been reversed, it can order the certification reversal (IRM 126.96.36.199.9
What can a U.S. Qualified Tax Consultant can do?
Practitioners and their clients should be proactive in
attempting to resolve unpaid tax liability issues. Alternatives include an installment
agreement, offer in compromise, full payment of the liability or request for
uncollectible status due to financial hardship.
- . Remember, a pending instalment agreement request
will stop the CP508C letter from being issued. Use this request for an instalment agreement template as a
- . Look at the IRS Collection Appeal Options Quick Reference Chart to
help you navigate the hurdles.
The process of decertification does work. In a recent case,
a husband and wife each received notice of certification (CP508C) on Aug. 20,
2018. The husband and wife’s outstanding tax liability was placed in
uncollectible status due to financial hardship through a Revenue Office and
notice CP508R was issued on Oct. 22, 2018.
In another case where the taxpayer owed over $300,000, the
taxpayer was able to enter into an installment agreement of $100 per month and
within two months received notice CP508R.
Always work and attempt to resolve cases at the lowest
possible level. Make sure that all unfiled tax returns have been filed and, if
needed, an estimated tax payment submitted for the current year.