In January 2017, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) announced that it will begin certifying to the DOS whenever taxpayers are “seriously” delinquent in paying federal taxes. According to the IRS, a “serious” delinquency is a tax debt that equals or exceeds $50,000. Once the IRS issues such a certification, the DOS is authorized to revoke the taxpayer’s U.S. passport or deny any application for a U.S. passport that the taxpayer files.

According to the IRS’s announcement, the agency will issue certification of a delinquent debt only as a last collection resort. In addition to requiring a serious delinquency, the IRS will not issue a certification unless a federal tax lien has been filed and proved ineffective, and all other administrative remedies have been exhausted without success. Certification also will not issue for serious delinquencies if (a) they are being liquidated in a timely manner pursuant to an installment plan or offer of compromise, (b) a collection due process hearing has been requested, or (c) collection has been suspended due to a request for innocent spouse relief.