The U.S. State Department may soon have the right to take passports of people with overdue taxes. In a new law, which the U.S. congress and senate are expected to pass in December 2015, Americans with serious delinquencies in the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will have to face consequences such as having big interests and penalties, including not being able to receive and keep their passports.
Legislators are in the closing stages of creating a bill that will provide funds for programs involving U.S. roads, highways and transit systems. Among the provisions included in the said bill is to let the federal government have the power to invalidate, ban or restrict U.S. passports of people, who have more than $50,000 worth of tax incurrences.
The relationship between overdue taxes and passports are not clearly established and analysts said there is none at all. The decision of the lawmakers to link the two is basically rooted from calculations estimating that the bill could raise about $400 million in 10 years thus, adding to the funds needed to fulfill the transit programs.
"This is going to have an extraordinary impact [in terms of getting people to pay up]," said Dennis Brager, a tax lawyer from Los Angeles and a former trial attorney at the IRS. For Brager though, the bill is excessively oppressive.
The law will be applicable to people who are put to a lien, which is the right to keep a possession of a person until a debt has been paid. For this case, passports may also be warranted as a possession that can be taken away.
Exceptions will also be applied if the law will take effect. Taxpayers, who are currently in the process of having a debt settled through installment plan payments, as well as those who have an ongoing debt appeal case in court, will not be affected by the proposed law.
The new legislation will officially take effect on Jan. 1, 2016, if all the concerned departments give the green light and provide full approval.
Critics have already emerged, with some saying that the number of affected citizens may reach up to about seven million. Such estimates include majority of Americans living or working overseas.
Passports are greatly important for all overseas Americans because it is their tool to receive working and resident visas/ permits. With this, the new proposed law will stress the essentiality of constantly checking IRS notices and letters, which the agency assumes are being practiced by all concerned.
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