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Tax evasion is a major problem in the US, and while it’s never a good idea to cheat the IRS, the agency is planning to make it even less appealing to do so. According to a Wall Street Journal report (that we’ve confirmed with the State Department), the federal government is currently working to implement a policy to revoke the international travel privileges of individuals who owe a certain amount of back taxes — WSJ reports this figure as $50,000 in unpaid federal taxes, although the State Department was unable to confirm.

The State Department provided the following statement:

On December 4, 2015, President Obama signed H.R.22 – FAST Act, which became Public Law 114-94. The FAST Act, which stands for “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation,” includes provisions related to the denial and revocation of U.S. passports. Specifically, the law provides that the State Department shall not issue a passport to any individual certified by IRS as having a seriously delinquent tax debt. The State Department also may revoke any passport issued to a person certified by the IRS as having a seriously delinquent tax debt. U.S. citizens overseas who have their passport applications denied or passports revoked on this basis are eligible for a limited passport valid only for direct return to the United States. The State Department is working with the IRS to implement these provisions.

Good luck getting Global Entry without a valid passport.
Good luck getting Global Entry without a valid passport.

Once the program is in place, anyone who owes a certain amount to the IRS may either have their passport application denied, or their passport will be revoked. If that individual is currently overseas, their passport will no longer be valid and they’ll need to obtain a “limited passport,” which will only be valid for a nonstop trip back to the US.

Overall, this is bad news for anyone who owes taxes, but if you have a significant tax debt, you should be working with the IRS to pay that off before spending thousands of dollars on international travel. If you think this new policy could affect you, consider reaching out to the IRS to settle your debt before this new procedure takes effect.

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