Tax Implications of the IRS Passport Program: What You Need to Know

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IRS Passport ProgramThe IRS Passport Program, introduced as part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act, has far-reaching consequences for taxpayers with significant tax debt. This program equips the IRS with the authority to certify taxpayers with “seriously delinquent tax debt” to the State Department, resulting in the possible denial, limitation, or revocation of their passports. Taxpayers with substantial tax liabilities should be aware of the implications of the IRS Passport Program on their travel privileges and financial well-being.

In this comprehensive blog post, we will delve into the IRS Passport Program, explaining what constitutes seriously delinquent tax debt and how the program affects taxpayers’ passports. We will discuss the various stages of the IRS Passport Program, from initial certification to the potential revocation of travel privileges, and explore potential consequences for taxpayers who fail to address their tax liabilities.

Additionally, we will examine the crucial role of tax professionals, such as payroll tax attorneys, in helping taxpayers navigate the complexities of the IRS Passport Program, secure appropriate tax relief, and maintain their travel privileges. By understanding the program and leveraging the knowledge and expertise of tax professionals, taxpayers can avoid potential pitfalls, achieve and maintain tax compliance, and protect their financial well-being.

Finally, we will provide guidance on maintaining tax compliance to prevent the IRS from certifying your seriously delinquent tax debt to the State Department, ensuring that your travel privileges remain intact.

The IRS Passport Program Explained

The primary purpose of the IRS Passport Program is to encourage taxpayers with seriously delinquent tax debt to address their liabilities and achieve tax compliance. Here, we explore the program’s workings and implications for taxpayers:

  • What Constitutes Seriously Delinquent Tax Debt

    Seriously delinquent tax debt is defined as an individual’s unpaid, legally enforceable federal tax debt totaling $54,000 or more (adjusted annually for inflation) for which:1. A notice of federal tax lien has been filed, and all administrative remedies under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) have been exhausted or have lapsed, or
    2. A tax levy has been issued.

The IRS is required by law to notify taxpayers in writing when their tax debt has been certified as seriously delinquent. Importantly, certain types of tax debt are exempt from causing seriously delinquent tax debt status, such as:

  1. Debt being paid in a timely manner under an installment agreement,
  2. Debt being paid under an Offer in Compromise,
  3. Debt for which the collection is suspended due to a request for innocent spouse relief, and
  4. Debt resulting from identity theft
  • Stages of the IRS Passport Program
    The IRS Passport Program progresses through several stages to encourage taxpayers to resolve outstanding tax debt:

    • Certification: The IRS identifies and certifies taxpayers with seriously delinquent tax debt to the State Department.
    • Notice: The IRS notifies taxpayers of their certification and their right to contest through the IRS Independent Office of Appeals.
    • Denial, Limitation, or Revocation of Passport: The State Department may deny, limit, or revoke the taxpayer’s passport upon receiving certification. Notably, the State Department may issue a passport for emergencies or humanitarian reasons.

Navigating the Complexities of the IRS Passport Program

Understanding and addressing the implications of the IRS Passport Program can be challenging. These steps can help taxpayers navigate the complexities:

  1. Know Your Rights
    Taxpayers have a right to be informed about their tax compliance status, the IRS’s actions, and their options for resolving tax debt. Awareness of these rights can help you make informed decisions in response to the IRS Passport Program.
  2. Be Proactive
    If you have or expect to have seriously delinquent tax debt, it’s vital to proactively address your tax situation by seeking professional advice, staying informed, and resolving your tax liabilities.
  3. Request Reversal of Certification
    If your situation changes (e.g., you enter into a payment plan, settlement, or innocent spouse relief), you can request that the IRS reverse the certification and inform the State Department to reinstate your travel privileges.
  4. Contest Certification
    If you believe the IRS has wrongly certified your tax debt, you have the right to challenge the certification through the IRS Independent Office of Appeals.

The Importance of Payroll Tax Attorneys in Addressing Tax Liabilities

When dealing with the IRS Passport Program and related tax liabilities, payroll tax attorneys can provide invaluable support and guidance:

  1. Expert Knowledge
    Payroll tax attorneys understand tax laws, IRS policies, and the IRS Passport Program, equipping them to help you navigate your tax situation effectively and compliantly.
  2. Strategic Planning
    These professionals can develop tailored strategies to address your tax liabilities, including negotiating installment agreements, Offers in Compromise, or innocent spouse relief.
  3. Effective Representation
    Payroll tax attorneys can represent you in dealings with the IRS, advocating for your interests and protecting your rights as a taxpayer.
  4. Resolution of Complex Tax Issues
    If your tax situation involves multiple years, tax types, or entities, payroll tax attorneys can help you resolve potential complications and secure suitable tax relief.

Maintaining Tax Compliance to Protect Your Travel Privileges

By ensuring ongoing tax compliance, you can minimize the risk of your tax debt becoming seriously delinquent and jeopardizing your passport:

  1. File Accurate Tax Returns
    Ensure your tax returns are accurate, complete, and filed on time to prevent potential discrepancies or issues leading to further liabilities.
  2. Address Tax Liabilities Promptly
    Pay your taxes promptly and in full. If you cannot pay your tax debt immediately, explore alternative solutions, such as a payment plan or Offer in Compromise, before your situation escalates.
  3. Stay Informed
    Monitor your tax liabilities and notifications from the IRS, seeking professional advice if needed to help you understand and address any issues that arise.
  4. Consult Tax Professionals
    Meet with payroll tax attorneys or tax professionals regularly for help with tax planning and compliance recommendations.


The IRS Passport Program is a powerful tool in the agency’s arsenal to encourage taxpayers with seriously delinquent tax debt to address their liabilities and achieve tax compliance. By understanding the program’s implications, seeking the guidance of experienced payroll tax attorneys, and maintaining tax compliance, you can protect your travel privileges and financial stability.

Are you concerned about the IRS Passport Program and its potential impact on your travel privileges? Contact our team of experienced tax professionals at Segal Cohen & Landis for a free consultation. We’ll help you understand the program, address your tax liabilities, and safeguard your passport rights.

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