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Some taxpayers with delinquent tax debts who have had their passport renewals blocked can use an expedited process to allow them to travel. As of May 3rd, more than 370,000 notifications certifying qualifying delinquent tax debts have been sent by the IRS to the US State Department. Under the expedited process, the State Department needs just 24 to 48 hours to process the decertification once it’s received.

by Jonathan Curry

Some taxpayers saddled with a delinquent tax debt and blocked from receiving or renewing a passport canuse an expedited process to clear the way for travel.

Under the process, a taxpayer with an urgent need to travel within 45 days can file a Form 14794, “Expedited Passport Decertification,” to more quickly regain his passport, Darren Guillot, director (field collection), IRS Small Business/SelfEmployed Division, explained May 10.

The IRS is required under the Protecting Americans From Tax Hikes Act of 2015 to certify to the State Department any taxpayer with a seriously delinquent tax debt of $52,000 or more, adjusted for inflation. In turn, the State Department is required to deny that taxpayer’s passport application or request for renewal.

Speaking at the Tax Collection, Bankruptcy, and Workouts session of the American Bar Association Section of Taxation meeting in Washington, Guillot said that under the ordinary process, once a taxpayer satisfies his tax debt or ceases to be seriously delinquent, the IRS will reverse the certification and notify the State Department within 30 days. But under the expedited process, the State Department needs just 24 to 48 hours to process the decertification once it’s received, he said

Other reasons for decertification include the delinquent taxpayer agreeing to an installment payment agreement or offer in compromise; the taxpayer’s death; or a hardship like identity theft, bankruptcy, a natural disaster, or travel to a combat zone, Guillot said.

As of May 3, more than 370,000 certifications had been sent to the State Department, and more than $910,000 had been collected from the program, Guillot noted.

Less Is More

The number of IRS field collection revenue officers has declined by 49 percent since 2010, from a high of 4,068 to just 1,994 as of April this year, according to Guillot.

Guillot said his department was granted funding to hire 600 additional revenue officers, for which interviews have already begun. To fully manage the work queue, Guillot said the department would need a total of between 4,000 and 5,000 revenue officers.

Even so, the department has increased its use of data analytics, software, and other tools to more effectively manage complex cases, Guillot said. “Some of this complex work is being done more now than when I had more officers,” he said.

Guillot said his team will soon begin training with a new tool that uses information obtained through the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act. That tool will enable his team to review the assets that U.S. taxpayers report on Form 8938, “Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets,” and then compare that against assets reported by financial institutions on Form 8966, “FATCA Report,” to identify discrepancies. “We’ve got more and more data and software to help us know what type of assets are out there before we ever knock on your door,” Guillot said. “So make sure you’re reporting that to us.”