New Law Could Make It Harder for Americans to Leave the Country

A recent infrastructure spending bill was signed into law with the purpose of making the country’s roads safer. However, included in the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act” (FAST Act), was a provision that doesn’t apply to ground transportation at all, but rather the ability of American citizens to fly to other countries.

A section of the act titled “Revocation or Denial of Passport in Case of Certain Tax Delinquencies” allows the IRS to seize the passports of American citizens who owe more than $50,000 in delinquent tax debts. This number includes penalties and interest, so even people who currently owe less than $50,000 could soon find themselves without a passport as interest builds up.

While the bill has been signed into law, immigration attorneys are not yet fully informed on how this program will be implemented. The law allows for the revocation, denial or limitation of passports for anyone with a large tax debt, but it is not yet known if the IRS actually plans to cancel or collect the existing passports of those in debt.

One major issue that many have with this law is that it allows for revocation based solely on the word of the IRS, without any procedure for the passport holder to challenge their tax debt or the denial of a passport.

This could have major implications for Americans who spend significant time overseas or who live overseas on visas. It is not yet known whether people could be forced to return home or whether they might be required to surrender their passport at a U.S. consulate in a foreign country, leaving them trapped there.

In addition to making overseas travel difficult or impossible, the law could have an effect on domestic travelers because federal rules may soon require passengers from certain states with non-compliant ID programs to use a federal ID while flying. This could mean that some people with tax debts could end up unable to fly at all.

If you have questions about passports or visas, contact the Florida immigration attorneys at the Law Offices of K. Dean Kantaras, P.A.

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