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Hey Americans: Owe Taxes? You May Lose Your Passport

By SHANNON KELLY

Photo: www.passportoffices.us

Americans who owe taxes to the IRS could be prevented from seeing our superior view of Niagara Falls from Canada if a new law passes that prohibiting U.S. citizens who owe federal back taxes from having a passport.

Passed by the U.S. Senate last month, the Surface Transportation bill (S. 1813, HR 4281), whose main objective is to provide federal aid for highway construction projects, includes an amendment that would allow the U.S. government to deny passport renewals or to revoke existing passports in cases of tax delinquencies in excess of $50,000.

This could have huge consequences for American expats living abroad—Canadian permanent residents, for example. However, in an article for the organization American Citizens Abroad, tax attorney Charles M. Bruce asserts that U.S. citizens abroad will generally not be affected due to the limited reach of the IRS outside U.S. borders. Bruce admits, though, that “some people undoubtedly will want to acquire a back-up passport” in their country of residence.

The bill is currently lingering in the House of Representatives; a 90-day extension on a vote was approved on March 29.

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