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Published: September 4, 2019   |   Last Updated: October 14, 2020

Alert: Planning to travel outside of the U.S. this year? Don’t risk a passport revocation – arrange to settle large IRS debts now

The Internal Revenue Service is urging taxpayers to resolve their significant tax debts, $50,000 or more, to avoid putting their passports in jeopardy. If you owe $50,000 or more and haven’t made payment arrangements, please contact the IRS now to avoid travel delays later.


Why is the State Department allowed to limit or revoke my passport due to unpaid taxes?

In December 2015, Congress passed the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. That act authorized the IRS to certify to the State Department taxpayers who owe a seriously delinquent tax debt. A seriously delinquent tax debt is an unpaid, legally enforceable federal tax debt totaling more than $50,000 (Please note that this amount is adjusted annually for inflation.) for which a notice of federal tax lien has been filed and all administrative remedies under IRC § 6320 have lapsed or been exhausted, or a levy has been issued. The IRS began certifying these debts to the State Department in 2018. Under the law, the State Department must deny your passport application and may revoke or limit your passport if the IRS has certified you as having a seriously delinquent tax debt. A seriously delinquent tax debt does not include non-tax debts collected by the IRS, such as the FBAR penalty and child support.

When will my seriously delinquent tax debt be certified to the State Department?

The IRS already began certifying certain taxpayers in phases and will continue certifying all seriously delinquent individual taxpayer accounts. The IRS will send a Notice CP 508C to your last known address at the time it certifies your seriously delinquent tax debt to the State Department.

There are some exceptions from passport certification; see more on denying, revoking passports because of tax debt for a list of those special circumstances. For taxpayers serving in a combat zone and who have a seriously delinquent tax debt, the IRS will postpone certifying their tax debt to the State Department while they remain performing such service.

In addition, taxpayers who have open cases with the Taxpayer Advocate Service will now temporarily be excepted thanks to TAS’s past advocacy efforts.

How will I know if I’m at risk of revocation?

Before contacting the State Department about revoking your passport, the IRS will send you a Letter 6152, Notice of Intent to Request U.S. Department of State Revoke Your Passport, to let you know what it intends to do and give you another opportunity to resolve the debt before it takes that action.

What should I do if I receive an IRS Notice or Letter about passport revocation?

Don’t delay! Call the IRS immediately or at least within 30 days from the date of the letter. There will be a special telephone number to call listed on the notice or see the IRS Contact information below. Generally, the IRS won’t recommend revoking your passport if you’re making a good-faith attempt to resolve the tax debts. However, some payment resolutions take longer than others, so don’t take a risk by waiting.

If you believe you have been a victim of identity theft which has resulted in your receiving Letter 6152 or other IRS notice concerning your tax debt, use the resources available at Identity Protection: Prevention, Detection and Victim Assistance to correct your account.

What if I’ve already been certified and my travel plans are in jeopardy?

The IRS has an expedited decertification procedure for taxpayers who live abroad or have plans to travel within 45 days.

If you’re leaving soon for international travel, need to resolve passport issues and have a pending application for a U.S. passport, you should call the phone number listed on top right-hand corner of your Notice CP 508C.

If your passport is cancelled or revoked after you’re certified, you must resolve the tax debt by paying the debt in full, making alternative payment arrangements or showing that the certification was erroneous.

The IRS will reverse your certification within 30 days of the date you resolve the tax debt and provide notification to the State Department as soon as practicable.

However, if you’re unable to resolve your balance with the IRS or your passport issue, the Taxpayer Advocate Service may be able to help.

TAS References and Resources

IRS Resources: