IRS Passport Revocation

IRS Passport Revocation

IRS Passport Revocation

The United has significantly increased enforcement of international tax laws. The penalties for not being in foreign accounts compliance and/or unreported foreign income can be harsh. In order to further pursue U.S. persons across the globe with tax debt, the IRS has begun revoking and denying U.S. passports to certain citizens and permanent residents with Tax Debt.

We will summarize the IRS Passport Revocation rules, along with two examples.

IRS Notice to Revoke Passport

Recently, the U.S. Government snuck in a law that allows the IRS to cancel, deny, or revoke your passport if you owe more than $50,000 to the IRS.

As provided by the IRS:

      • “If you have seriously delinquent tax debt, IRC § 7345 authorizes the IRS to certify that debt to the State Department for action.

      • The State Department generally will not issue a passport to you after receiving certification from the IRS.”  

This article will summarize the following IRS Passport related issues:

      • IRS Passport Revocation

      • U.S. Passport Status

      • IRS Passport Denial

      • IRS Tax Debt & U.S. Passports

      • How To Avoid Passport Revocations

You May Not Actually Owe Tax

We understand that most individuals will be able to fall back on either the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE) and/or the Foreign Tax Credit (FTC). The important (read: very, very important) thing to keep in mind is that if you have not filed taxes, then you have not applied the exclusion or foreign tax credits to your returns, and the IRS will have no record of it for your file. Moreover, especially when it comes to the FEIE, if you do not properly claim the exclusion timely, the IRS can deny your request to use the exclusion in an untimely filed tax return at a later date. The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE) and/or Foreign Tax Credit (FTC) are two mechanisms that can only be claimed on the actual tax return. For example, if Steven lives overseas and earns $105,000 USD equivalent, but never filed taxes in the US and/or claimed the exclusion then the IRS has no record of it, and it would not be applied to Steven’s tax liability.

IRA Passport Revocation Example 1: Steven (Accidental American)

Steven is a U.S. citizen who was born overseas and is only a US citizen because his mother was a US citizen. He earns $95,000 annually and pays all of his tax in the foreign country – albeit a low tax jurisdiction – and if he did file, he would meet the elements to establish the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion. Steven never filed a US tax return, but Steven does have a Social Security number and a US passport that he travels on because that’s just always what he did when his mother first got him the passport. Moreover, Steven just received a “FATCA Letter” from his bank.

Steven has family in the United States and travels to the US about 3 to 4 times a year for about a week at a time. As a single person, Stephen would owe somewhere in the neighborhood of $15,000 -$25,000 a year depending on his deductions.

      • Problem: After not filing for about three (3) years, including penalties and interest, Stephen could easily exceed the $50,000 IRS debt liability threshold.

      • Resolution: Stephen should qualify for the Streamlined Foreign Offshore Procedures, which would both get him into tax compliance as well as avoid any penalties.

IRA Passport Revocation Example 2 (Small Business Owner)

Michelle is a legal permanent resident who resides abroad. The entrepreneurship bug bit Michelle when she was very young, and she has been operating two small businesses outside of the U.S. for many years.

Even though Michelle is a legal permanent resident of the United States and has been one for more than 20 years, she has not resided in the United States for many years (we are not taking into consideration any immigration status issues regarding “involuntary abandonment issues“). While Michele’s businesses do not earn much money, she does have some foreign mutual funds along with a business structure called a Sociedad Anonima.

Michelle travels to the United States (as well as many other countries) various times throughout the year for business and does not meet the FEIE Physical Presence Test – but she would qualify as a Bona-Fide Resident (BFR) of her foreign country.

      • Problem: Michelle has not filed the necessary form 5471 or 8621 for her foreign mutual fund/ PFIC. The penalty for the 5471 can be $10,000 per year and because she did not file the 8621, the statute of limitations on the prior year tax returns have not yet begin to run. Michelle could end up owing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the IRS in fines and penalties.

      • Resolution: since Michelle will not meet the streamlined “foreign resident rule,” she can get into compliance using either the Streamlined Domestic Offshore Procedures, or consider a Reasonable Cause Submission.

Are you Out of Compliance?

If you are out of compliance for not properly disclosing foreign income, accounts, assets, and/or investments — you may consider submitting to offshore tax amnesty in order to get into compliance.

Golding & Golding: About Our International Tax Law Firm

Golding & Golding specializes exclusively in international tax, and specifically IRS offshore disclosure and IRS Passport Revocation

Contact our firm today for assistance with getting compliant.