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Those owing the IRS shouldn't book their vacations just yet

Spring is nearly here, and summer will be nipping at its heels. During this time, many Massachusetts residents begin planning vacations outside the country -- often to warmer climates. For those who owe the IRS back taxes, it may be better to hold off on making those plans since the agency could prevent them from obtaining or using their passports.

If the IRS claims that a Massachusetts taxpayer owes a minimum of $52,000 in taxes, penalties and interest, the agency can submit a request to the U.S. Department of State to revoke or deny him or her a passport. Before it may do so, however, the agency must issue a levy, file a lien and exhaust all administrative remedies available to collect the past due amount. This step may also apply to unpaid child support and the FBAR Penalty.

This does not mean that everyone who owes at least $52,000 will lose the ability to travel outside the United States. Those already paying under an installment plan, an offer in compromise or through a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice in a timely manner may keep their passports or receive one. Individuals in bankruptcy, victims of identity theft or living in a federal disaster area also do not have to fear this particular reprisal.

These are not the only circumstances under which the IRS may prevent an individual from receiving or using his or her passport. If he or she fears this could happen, it makes sense to find out for sure and obtain information regarding his or her rights under the circumstances. It may be possible to clear up the situation without facing any further repercussions.

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