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National Taxpayer Advocate: IRS Resumes Passport Certification Program



The IRS recently announced that it resumed its Passport Certification program on March 14, 2021. The IRS is again notifying the Department of State of taxpayers certified as owing seriously delinquent tax debt. On March 25, 2020, the IRS suspended certain collection activities including passport certification under the People First Initiative in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Affected taxpayers will receive notices and are encouraged to pay what they owe or enter into a payment agreement with the IRS to avoid putting their passports in jeopardy – see the Actions you can take section below. The great majority of certifications are related to pre-pandemic liabilities that are considered a priority for the IRS due to the amount owed and length of time the taxpayers have been delinquent without working with the IRS to resolve their tax debts. The law generally requires the IRS to certify individuals to the Department of State when they have unpaid, legally enforceable federal tax debt totaling more than $54,000 (including interest and penalties) for which a notice of federal tax lien has been filed and all administrative remedies under Internal Revenue Code Section 6320 have lapsed or been exhausted, or a levy has been issued. Per the law, the State Department generally will not renew passport or issue a new passport after receiving certification from the IRS, and in some cases may revoke the passport. If the taxpayer is overseas, the State Department may issue a limited validity passport good for direct return to the United States. However, before denying a passport renewal or new passport application, the State Department generally will hold the taxpayer’s application for 90 days to allow taxpayers to: Make full payment of the tax debt, or Enter a satisfactory payment arrangement with the IRS, or Resolve any erroneous certification issues. Once resolved, the IRS, generally, will reverse the certification within 30 days of the date of resolution and provide notification to the State Department as soon as practicable. Actions you can take Payment of taxes The IRS offers a number of programs to help taxpayers meet their tax obligations including payment agreements, Offers in Compromise, and, if the IRS determines a taxpayer cannot pay any of their tax debt, a temporary delay of the collection process. You can also view our Taxpayer Advocate Service Paying Taxes Get Help pages for descriptions of payment options if you are unable to pay in full. If you recently filed your tax return for the current year and expect a refund, the IRS will apply the refund to the debt. If the refund is enough to satisfy your seriously delinquent tax debt, the IRS considers the account fully paid. However, taxpayers should not solely rely on this option to resolve the issue at this time, because of 2019 and 2020 tax return processing delays due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Disagree with the tax due If you disagree with the tax amount or the certification was made in error, you should contact the phone number on Notice CP508C: 855-519-4965; 267-941-1004 for international callers. If you’ve already paid the tax debt, please send proof of that payment to the address on your Notice CP508C. Imminent travel plans If you’re leaving soon for international travel, you should contact the IRS promptly using the phone number on the Notice: 855-519-4965 or 267-941-1004 for international callers. The IRS.gov Revocation or Denial of Passport in Case of Certain Unpaid Taxes webpage has more information about this program and actions you can take to resolve the debt. More resources Understanding Your CP508C Notice Understanding Your CP508R Notice; Note: this page also has answers to many common passport certification questions IR-2019-23: Individuals Who Need Passports for Imminent Travel Should Contact IRS Promptly to Resolve Tax Debt

The IRS recently announced that it resumed its Passport Certification program on March 14, 2021. The IRS is again notifying the Department of State of taxpayers certified as owing seriously delinquent tax debt. On March 25, 2020, the IRS suspended certain collection activities including passport certification under the People First Initiative in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Affected taxpayers will receive notices and are encouraged to pay what they owe or enter into a payment agreement with the IRS to avoid putting their passports in jeopardy – see the Actions you can take section below. The great majority of certifications are related to pre-pandemic liabilities that are considered a priority for the IRS due to the amount owed and length of time the taxpayers have been delinquent without working with the IRS to resolve their tax debts.

The law generally requires the IRS to certify individuals to the Department of State when they have unpaid, legally enforceable federal tax debt totaling more than $54,000 (including interest and penalties) for which a notice of federal tax lien has been filed and all administrative remedies under Internal Revenue Code Section 6320 have lapsed or been exhausted, or a levy has been issued.

Per the law, the State Department generally will not renew passport or issue a new passport after receiving certification from the IRS, and in some cases may revoke the passport. If the taxpayer is overseas, the State Department may issue a limited validity passport good for direct return to the United States. However, before denying a passport renewal or new passport application, the State Department generally will hold the taxpayer’s application for 90 days to allow taxpayers to:

  • Make full payment of the tax debt, or
  • Enter a satisfactory payment arrangement with the IRS, or
  • Resolve any erroneous certification issues.
  • Once resolved, the IRS, generally, will reverse the certification within 30 days of the date of resolution and provide notification to the State Department as soon as practicable.
Actions you can take

Payment of taxes

The IRS offers a number of programs to help taxpayers meet their tax obligations including payment agreements, Offers in Compromise, and, if the IRS determines a taxpayer cannot pay any of their tax debt, a temporary delay of the collection process. You can also view our Taxpayer Advocate Service Paying Taxes Get Help pages for descriptions of payment options if you are unable to pay in full.

If you recently filed your tax return for the current year and expect a refund, the IRS will apply the refund to the debt. If the refund is enough to satisfy your seriously delinquent tax debt, the IRS considers the account fully paid. However, taxpayers should not solely rely on this option to resolve the issue at this time, because of 2019 and 2020 tax return processing delays due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Disagree with the tax due

If you disagree with the tax amount or the certification was made in error, you should contact the phone number on Notice CP508C: 855-519-4965; 267-941-1004 for international callers. If you’ve already paid the tax debt, please send proof of that payment to the address on your Notice CP508C.

Imminent travel plans

If you’re leaving soon for international travel, you should contact the IRS promptly using the phone number on the Notice: 855-519-4965 or 267-941-1004 for international callers.

The IRS.gov Revocation or Denial of Passport in Case of Certain Unpaid Taxes webpage has more information about this program and actions you can take to resolve the debt.

More resources

National Taxpayer Advocate

National Taxpayer Advocate

The Office of the Taxpayer Advocate, also called the Taxpayer Advocate Service, is an office that is independent of the Internal Revenue Service, the United States Government’s tax collection agency, although the two bodies often work closely together.

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