Joining the ranks of parents who fail to pay child support and lose their passports, US Citizens with serious tax delinquencies will now risk losing their passports and the inability to renew them. In December of 2015 congress passed the FAST Act that among other things mandated that delinquent taxpayers would lose their passports. After a delay in implementation, the rule became effective on January 1, 2018. The following are some important aspects of the new program:

  1. The IRS will certify that a taxpayer has a “seriously delinquent” tax debt, defined as an unpaid, legally enforceable and assessed federal tax liability of an individual greater than $50,000.
  2. The IRS will notify the State Department of the delinquent status of the tax payer.
  3. When the delinquent taxpayer applies for a passport, the applicant will be notified of the issue and will be given 90 days to resolve it with the IRS. In addition, the State Department may revoke or limit a passport that was previously issued.
  4. Tax debt is not deemed to be seriously delinquent in some situations such as: if the debt is being paid through an installment agreement, an offer in compromise, a settlement agreement.
  5. If a taxpayer feels that the certification of serious tax delinquency is incorrect, they have a right to judicial review in either US District Court or US Tax Court.

These new rules may come as a rude awakening to some US Citizens living overseas who marry and live abroad for long periods of time and do not stay current with their US tax obligations. These US Citizens may petition for an immigrant visa for their spouse only to be barred themselves from coming to the US.

The USCIS has long used a similar test to bar Green Card holders from becoming naturalized US Citizens if they are delinquent on their taxes. The lesson is pay your taxes or you may land-locked.