As we reported in Pay Up Or It's No Passport For Your Cruise, the US State Department denies passports to noncustodial parents who owe more than $2,500 in child support. And now, Fox Business News has revealed that there is an amendment to a bill before Congress that could allow the federal government to prevent Americans with substantial unpaid back tax obligations from leaving the country.
While some experts view the provision contained in Senate Bill 1813 as overly harsh and possibly unconstitutionsl, Fox Business News says that according to Niels Lesniewski, Editor of CQ SenateWatch, that there is precedent for it. Lesniewski told them, “Existing law says that passports may not be reviewed for applicants owing child support in excess of $2,500. So I think supporters would say: ‘You can’t get a passport if you don’t pay child support, but you can get a passport if you don’t pay taxes?’”
The amendment, which has received little attention, would allow the State Department to revoke, deny, or limit passports for anyone the IRS certifies as having “a seriously delinquent tax debt in an amount in excess of $50,000.”
There are exceptions, of course. For instance, if the debt “is being paid in a timely manner” or “in emergency circumstances or for humanitarian reasons.” The delinquent person does not have be charged with tax evasion before having their passport revoked—the only requirement is that the IRS has filed a notice of lien or levy against them.
The bill containing the provision has made it through the Senate where it originated, but what about its chance of passing in the House where stronger opposition is expected? Fox reports that “it’s hard to tell if it will withstand Republican opposition, but he [Lesniewski] believes the passport provision has a good chance at becoming law for one reason: money.” The provision could haul in $750 million in the 10-year budget window and according to Lesniewski it’s likely to be passed at some point because “it seems like relatively low hanging fruit.”
Hey, what’s good enough for deadbeat dads (and moms) is certainly good enough for tax cheats. Either pay up or stay home. In fact, honest taxpayers would probably like to see that $50,000 delinquency limit even lower.