In a memorandum to Tax Advocate Service (TAS) employees TAS-13-1119-0016 11/19/2019, TAS has updated its advocacy guidance now that the IRS has stopped its temporary program under which it wasn't certifying taxpayers for passport revocation etc., if the taxpayer had delinquent tax debt but also had an open Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) case.
IRC § 7345 - Revocation or Denial of Passport authorizes (but does not require) the IRS to certify a taxpayer's seriously delinquent tax debt to the State Department for the purposes of passport denial, limitation, or revocation. A seriously delinquent tax debt is an assessed individual tax liability exceeding $50,000 (adjusted for inflation) for which either a notice of federal tax lien has been filed or a levy has been made. IRS must also send a decertification to the Department of State where the certification was in error or where there is no longer a seriously delinquent tax debt. (IRC § 7345(b))
The Internal Revenue Manual provides details as to how the IRS certifies and decertifies a taxpayer. (IRM 13.1.24)
A Decertification Protects The Taxpayer's Passport From Being Denied, Limited, Or Revoked Merely Because of
a Seriously Delinquent Tax Debt.
The IRM also details how the TAS can open a case to help a taxpayer resolve a tax issue. (IRM 126.96.36.199(1) (2/4/2015))
The National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) has long advocated excluding certain taxpayers with TAS cases from passport certification.
On July 25, 2019, IRS announced that all open TAS cases with a certified taxpayer would be systemically decertified. New TAS taxpayers would also be systemically decertified. The IRS said that this decision was temporary and that new guidance would be issued once the IRS Commissioner makes a final decision on this issue.
But in October 2019, the IRS found that excluding cases from certification solely on the basis that the taxpayer is seeking assistance from TAS could allow a "won't pay" taxpayer to circumvent the intent of the legislation to obtain or renew a passport.
Following the review of relevant considerations regarding these procedures, the IRS determined that a blanket, systemic exception for anyone with an open TAS case is overly broad and could undermine the effectiveness of IRC § 7345 to collect a seriously delinquent tax debt.
Now that taxpayers working with TAS will no longer be automatically protected from certification, TAS will work with the IRS to identify and resolve the seriously delinquent tax debts of these taxpayers.
Taxpayers Who Have Already Taken Significant Steps
To Resolve Their Debt
Can Still Resolve Their Passport Issues By Contacting
TAS, Who Can Request Manual Decertification.
The memo tells TAS employees to elevate a case to the employee's Local Taxpayer Advocate (LTA) if the case meets all the following criteria. The taxpayer has 1) Imminent foreign travel plans, lives abroad, or has another compelling need for the passport 2)A significant risk of being certified before TAS will be able to help resolve the taxpayer's debt; and 3) Taken demonstrable recent steps to get into compliance with the IRS that nevertheless fall short of the statutory and discretionary exclusions.
Then IRM 188.8.131.52.5.3, Decertify the Debt with the Department of State, is superseded and replaced with the following:
- Once the taxpayer meets a criterion for decertification under IRM 184.108.40.206.19.9, Reversal of Certification, review IRM 220.127.116.11.8 to determine if the account will require manual decertification. If so, send an OAR to the SB/SE Passport Office seeking manual decertification.
- If the taxpayer has an imminent need for a passport as defined in IRM 18.104.22.168.19.9.1, Expedited Decertification, gather the supporting documentation described. If the IRS function that resolved the debt did not complete and sign page one of Form 14794, Expedited Passport Decertification, prepare the form for LTA signature on page one.
- Send an expedited OAR to *SBSE Passport Group mailbox, requesting that the taxpayer be decertified within one business day. Include the signed Form 14794 and the required documentation. If the OAR is not complied with timely, or if you disagree with the response, immediately elevate the case to your LTA for issuance of a TAO.
If You Face This Problem, You Should Consult with Experienced Tax Attorneys, As There Are Several Ways Taxpayers Can Avoid Having the IRS Request That the State Department Revoke Your Passport.
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