Last year, the IRS says it started implementing new procedures for people who have “seriously delinquent tax debts,” typically in excess of $52,000. A 2015 law signed by President Barack Obama requires the Internal Revenue Service to report this type of debt to the U.S. State Department.
The State Department could then restrict access to passports or hold pending applications. Those at risk must pay the back taxes, penalties and interest or make payment arrangements with the IRS. Once a taxpayer meets their obligations, the government has 30 days to green-light the passport.
This process can be expedited for those who meet the criteria and have immediate travel plans or live abroad.
The IRS has a variety of resources for helping people pay their debts including a monthly payments plans and a variety of online tools.
Several third-party groups also provide services for people who need extra help. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program focuses on low-income and elderly taxpayers as well as those with disabilities or trouble speaking English.
Low income Americans can see if they might qualify for a tax “compromise” on the IRS website based on their ability to pay. Once a taxpayer formally applies, the IRS will evaluate their ability to pay and possibly offer a tax payment.
There are a few exceptions to the international travel restrictions. People in bankruptcy, victims of tax fraud or natural disasters victims are not at risk of getting reported, according to the IRS.