Atty. Craig Zetley
MILWAUKEE – Thousands of Wisconsin taxpayers and other U.S citizens now face the threat of the US State Department revoking their passports for delinquent taxes.
“Never before has the State Department had such access to taxpayer information previously protected by privacy laws, nor has the IRS had the ability to affect passports.” said Milwaukee Attorney Craig H. Zetley, a Certified Public Accountant and tax attorney.
A previously unenforced provision in the so-called Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST ACT) passed in December 2015 now empowers the IRS to share information regarding delinquent taxpayers to the State Department for purposes of restricting renewal, or even revoking their passports.
In addition, a provision of the 2005 Real ID Act allows federal authorities to no longer accept drivers licenses from certain states for domestic travel, with the most common alternative I.D. being a passport. So, the IRS could literally affect certain taxpayers’ domestic travel beginning as early as January 22, 2018.
Why is this happening now?
“In the past, the IRS had no authority to revoke, deny or restrict the issuance of passports for American citizens because of unpaid taxes. The State Department has never had access to US citizens’ tax records previously protected as private,” said Zetley.
The new law affects those taxpayers who owe more than $50,000 in delinquent taxes, interest and penalties with certain exceptions. The IRS collection division has begun (See attached notice) to notify taxpayers with delinquent taxes that they are going to begin to enforce the passport restrictions.
“For those caught under the new law and who ignore or can’t pay the liability in a timely manner, it may be complicated and difficult to get out from under the new restrictions,” said Zetley.