Can you get a passport if you owe taxes

Can you Get a Passport if You Owe Taxes?

With the current changes in travel regulations and the full implementation of the Real ID Act, it is becoming increasingly important for travelers to stay up-to-date and informed regarding ID and travel document information. Where travelers could once use their state issued driver’s license to board and travel on domestic flights, residents who live in states that are Real ID non-compliant may be required to obtain a passport, even for domestic travel. With an increase in the number of people attempting to obtain a U.S. Passport, more people have questions about the passport application process. As of 2016, a section of the tax code affects an individual’s ability to obtain a passport based on whether they have a serious outstanding debt with the IRS. If you’re not sure whether you can get a passport if you owe taxes to the IRS, the answer may not be what you want to hear.

IRS Passport Denial – How the IRS can Withhold Your Passport

In 2016, the FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act) was implemented, creating a means for state departments to repair and maintain highways, roads, transportation safety, and other means of public ground transportation. The Act also put into effect section 7345 of the tax code; Revocation or Denial of Passport in Case of Certain Tax Delinquencies. This new tax law grants the U.S. State Department the authority to deny passport holders the ability to renew or apply for a new passport if they owe a substantial amount in back taxes. If your bill with the IRS is delinquent, or the amount you owe is sizeable, the State Department also has the authority to revoke your passport entirely, restricting its use only to return to the U.S. if you happen to be out of the country.

Passport Denial – How Much is a “Substantial” Amount in Back Taxes?

If you happen to be a little behind on your taxes, or you already have a payment contract in place with the IRS, you probably aren’t at risk of losing or being denied your passport. The magic number for the IRS is $50,000, and while the new law was put in effect in 2016, the State Department only started aggressively pursuing action early this year. While delinquent taxpayers are at risk, the law states that the process must begin with the IRS notifying the State Department of any delinquent accounts. It is up to the State Department to pursue action after that point.

Can You get a Passport if You Owe Taxes?

The short answer is probably yes. You will always be notified by mail if your passport’s status is compromised or at risk of being revoked or denied. The IRS will be in communication with the State Department, and any action to be taken in regards to your passport will come from the U.S. Department of State. As long as there are actions being taken on your past due account, or you’ve taken the proper steps to put an installment plan in place, speaking with the  State Department about your account might grant you certain privileges on your passport depending on your needs.


Regardless of how much you owe, or how delinquent your account is, the best way to ensure your passport is not in danger of being revoked is to make sure you take immediate action in the event the IRS or State Department contacts you about your owed back taxes. If you already have a plan in place and are looking to apply for a new passport, make sure you have all applicable documentation ready to go for the application process.


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