Articles Tagged with tax debt

The IRS has issued a notice stating it will begin the process of revoking passports of individuals with “seriously delinquent tax debts.” Seriously delinquent tax debts are those totaling more than $50,000 indexed for inflation. According to the Internal Revenue Manual the threshold is now $51,000. The amount includes not just the tax, but penalties and interest as well. However, the statute refers to “assessed” liabilities, and there are many instances where the IRS doesn’t assess all of the accrued interest and penalties so it is possible to owe the IRS more than $50,000, and still not meet the threshold. Notably, FBAR penalties are not counted towards the threshold.

Revocation of passports is not new. It was authorized by Congress in December of 2015 pursuant to new Internal Revenue Code Section 7345. However, the IRS has not implemented the program until now.

Although most tax attorneys and tax accountants refer to the IRS revoking passports, what actually happens is the IRS sends a certification to the State Department, and the State Department will take action to revoke the passport. The IRS will notify taxpayers in writing at the time of certification using IRS Notice CP 508C. The IRS will send the notice by regular mail to the taxpayer’s last known address. Since they will not be sending it by certified mail, there will be no way to prove that the IRS didn’t send it in cases where the notice is not received.

What to Do When You Can’t Pay Your Taxes
If you have an upcoming tax payment that you can’t pay, or have delinquent tax debt that is continuing to accrue, you may be tempted to delay filing your taxes. You may also want to avoid responding to any IRS notices you receive because you can’t pay off the tax debt listed on the notice. The desire to hide from your tax problems is understandable, but it is actually the worst thing you can do when you are unable to pay your tax liability.

Instead, you should file your taxes on time, respond to all IRS communications, and consider talking to a tax attorney about your options. Taking this proactive approach has several benefits, including the possibility of substantially reducing the amount of penalties and interest you owe and preventing any IRS collection actions.

Do Not Put Off Filing Your Taxes

What Causes an IRS Tax Audit?
The IRS has several methods of selecting returns for a tax audit. First, returns are identified that may possibly contain incorrect amounts, causing a review of the return by an auditor. If everything on your return checks out, the auditor can accept your return as submitted. If the auditor suspects that something is amiss, your return can be selected for an examination.

How Returns Are Selected for Audit

The IRS can select your return for an audit if any of the following happens:

The Requirements for Traditional Innocent Spouse Relief
Traditional innocent spouse relief is one of three types of defenses available to taxpayers when the IRS is attempting to collect tax that is attributable to a return filed jointly with your spouse or former spouse. The IRS can collect from either spouse for tax assessed on a joint return, but innocent spouse defenses allow you to avoid liability for these items, if certain requirements are met.

The Conditions for Innocent Spouse Relief

All four of the following conditions must be met in order for you to qualify for traditional innocent spouse relief:

IRS Actions Affecting Passports of Delinquent Taxpayers
Your unresolved tax debt could prevent you from taking your next trip overseas. The IRS has the right to certify to the State Department that an individual has seriously delinquent tax debt. Upon receiving this certification, the State Department will generally not issue you a new passport, and will revoke your current passport.

Tax debt is considered “seriously delinquent” if it is unpaid, legally enforceable and assessed, is greater than $50,000 (indexed for inflation annually), and a notice of federal tax lien has been filed, AND the rights to appeal a levy have expired, or a levy has been made. In other words, the IRS has been doing everything it can to collect your tax debt, and you still have a large outstanding balance owed to the Treasury.

There are exceptions where debt will not be included when determining if you have seriously delinquent tax debt. The following amounts will not be included: