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Owing back taxes and losing US Passport

Owing back taxes and losing US Passport

Old May 6th 2016, 6:01 pm
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Default Owing back taxes and losing US Passport

I just heard that if an individual owes more than a certain amount in back taxes he/she may have their US passport taken. Unfortunately I find myself in the position of owing taxes by default. Some years ago, 8 or 9 my husband filed bankruptcy unbeknownst to me while I was visiting family in England.At that time I had lived in the US for 25 years and hadnt worked a day, yet I was suddenly the bearer of a huge debt. I am not rich, so have been unable to pay anything toward that debt,although I do work now for min wage and faithfully pay my taxes. I have my British passport. My question is this; Will i be allowed out of the country to visit my family ? my daughter has bought me a ticket so I can travel with them and help with my grandchildren
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Old May 6th 2016, 6:10 pm
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Default Re: Owing back taxes and losing US Passport

I assume that you are a US citizen.

If you don't currently have a US passport I suggest that you apply for one immediately. I doubt very much that you will have any problem getting them.

Although there may be provisions to seize the US passports of citizens who owe the government a lot of money in back taxes, I very much doubt that the amount that you owe is anywhere near the threshold for that to happen. Anyway, it appears that you are currently paying your taxes,

While you could leave the country using your UK passport (although as a US citizen that is something that you are not legally allowed to do) you would have problems returning to the US without a US passport. As a US citizen they *would*, eventually let you in once they had verified your identity and citizenship, but you would have problems getting an airline to allow you to board a flight to the US with only a UK passport and no visa ...

So, just get yourself a passport and stop worrying.

Last edited by md95065; May 6th 2016 at 6:13 pm.
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Old May 6th 2016, 6:21 pm
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Default Re: Owing back taxes and losing US Passport

This gives you some information:

Forbes Welcome

There is no suggestion that the IRS has even begun to work out how they will do this in practice.

It relates to a “seriously delinquent tax debt” which is defined as unpaid federal taxes over $50,000 (which includes penalties and interest), and where the IRS has filed a tax lien notice or issued a levy/garnishment against an individual.

If none of this is true for you then you have nothing to fear. Enjoy your trip!
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Old May 6th 2016, 7:41 pm
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Smile Re: Owing back taxes and losing US Passport

I do have a US passport. Unfortunately the amount owed is well above $50,000 and we do have a lien on a property we own and my husband has his SS income levied. I have never had my personal income levied.The majority of the debt was from my husbands work ( he was self employed) and some from his personal taxes. I'm not sure now just how much is in my name alone. I will check when I get home. Thanks for your input.
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Old May 6th 2016, 8:18 pm
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Default Re: Owing back taxes and losing US Passport

I did also see some indication that this sanction would not be used against people who had any kind of payment plan in place - since you are currently paying taxes to the best of your ability even though there may be a large amount of delinquent back taxes I doubt that this would actually apply to you.

Since you have a US passport I would just go ahead and use it.

If the IRS ever does try to revoke your passport it will take them a long time to get around to it - probably at least several years.
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Old May 6th 2016, 8:45 pm
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Default Re: Owing back taxes and losing US Passport

There are no exit controls apart from the airline checking your passport. So if you still have a valid US passport, then you can use it.
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Old May 7th 2016, 3:49 am
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Default Re: Owing back taxes and losing US Passport

Thank you all. Your responses are very reassuring.
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Old May 22nd 2016, 8:05 am
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Default Re: Owing back taxes and losing US Passport

A friend of mine was in a similar situation; her passport was fine, and her travel was fine. However, the stress of owing money that she didn't have or would never have, was pretty great. The interest on back taxes is extraordinary.
She sought the help of a lawyer, who specialised in separating her financial liability from her husband's (who at that point was an ex husband). I don't know any further details, but perhaps worth investigating?
Good luck.
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Old May 22nd 2016, 1:12 pm
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Default Re: Owing back taxes and losing US Passport

Thank you for your reply colemvaughn. I am still with my husband so separating our responsibilities may be tricky. He filed bankruptcy while I was in England for Christmas 2008 unbeknownst to me. Since I had no income of my own, (I had been working as a teachers aid for just 4 months, the only job I had in 26 years in the US) so I had no choice but to file bankruptcy myself just 4 months after my husband. Most of his tax debt came from his office, but since his office handled our tax returns some of the mess spilled over into our personal lives. All tax demands came in my name at first but now I notice that we get triplicate bills, one in his name, one in mine and one joint. Yes the stress is awful on every level, my husband is now 77 and retired and I work for minimum wage so we live hand to mouth. I worry about how much an attorney will cost . Your response has given me comfort though, thank you.
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Old May 24th 2016, 3:23 am
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Default Re: Owing back taxes and losing US Passport

Originally Posted by colemvaughn View Post
separating her financial liability from her husband's (who at that point was an ex husband).
He'd be an ex of mine too if my husband did what the OP's did!!
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