News & Articles

Delinquent Taxpayers May Experience Passport Issues

Posted on Wed, Mar 27, 2019

Let's say a person is planning to take a plane trip out of the country. And further suppose that individual owes the federal government a fair amount of back taxes. The person may not be able get a passport if he or she owes the government a significant amount of back taxes. The IRS is now reminding taxpayers that legislation passed in 2015 allows the tax agency to revoke passports or deny new ones to major debtors.

Taxpayers Free to Go Overseas

The IRS says it won't certify a taxpayer as owing a seriously delinquent tax debt or will reverse the certification for an individual who: 

  • Is in bankruptcy;
  • Has been identified by the IRS as a victim of tax-related identity theft;
  • Has an account the IRS has determined is currently not collectible due to hardship;
  • Is located within a federal disaster area;
  • Has a request pending with the IRS for an installment agreement;
  • Has a pending offer in compromise with the IRS; or
  • Has an IRS accepted adjustment that will satisfy the debt in full.

Background of the Law

Under the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act of 2015, a highway spending measure, the IRS was granted the authority to notify the State Department about taxpayers who have "seriously delinquent tax debts." The State Department is then tasked with denying the individual their passport application or renewal. It took awhile to put the wheels in motion, but the IRS began enforcing this provision of the law last year.

For these purposes, a seriously delinquent tax debt is defined as $50,000 or more, indexed for inflation. The threshold for 2019 is $52,000. This includes back taxes, penalties and interest for which the IRS has filed a tax lien or issued a levy.

How It Works

If a taxpayer is certified as owing a seriously delinquent tax debt, he or she receives a Notice CP508C from the IRS. This notice explains the steps that must be taken to resolve the debt. For instance, IRS representatives may help a taxpayer set up a payment plan or explain other payment alternatives. People who owe back taxes shouldn't delay — especially if they're planning a trip abroad.

Once the tax obligations are met, the IRS will reverse the taxpayer's certification within 30 days. Matters may be expedited under certain circumstances.

Before denying a passport renewal or new passport application, the State Department will hold a taxpayer's application for 90 days to allow him or her to resolve any erroneous certification issues, make full payment of the tax debt or enter into a satisfactory payment arrangement with the IRS.

In an IRS announcement, the agency presents several ways that an individual can avoid having the State Department notified of a seriously delinquent tax debt, including the following:

  • Pay the tax debt in full;
  • Pay the tax debt in a timely manner under an approved installment agreement;
  • Pay the tax debt in a timely manner under an accepted offer in compromise (OIC);
  • Pay the tax debt in a timely manner under the terms of a settlement agreement with the Department of Justice (DOJ);
  • Have requested or have a pending collection due process appeal with a levy; or
  • Have collection suspended because you've made an innocent spouse election or requested innocent spouse relief.

The IRS also has provided details on two key relief programs available to taxpayers who could have their passports revoked or denied.

1. Payment agreements. A taxpayer can formally request to use a payment plan by filing Form 9465. This form can be sent with a tax return bill or notice or a taxpayer can arrange a monthly payment agreement online.

2. Offers in compromise. With an OIC, a taxpayer settles up with the IRS for an amount that's less than the actual tax liability. The IRS will examine the individual's income and assets to determine his or her ability to pay. An individual can use an online pre-qualifier to see if he or she is likely to qualify for an OIC.

Other special rules apply to taxpayers who are currently serving in a combat zone.

Moral of the story: As you can see, there are several available options for avoiding a worst-case scenario. With assistance from a tax advisor, a person who owes back taxes should be able to find a happy tax landing.

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Tags: Filing Taxes, IRS, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)

It's Not Too Late for Some Business Owners to Lower Their 2018 Taxes

Posted on Mon, Mar 25, 2019

Most businesses will owe less tax for the 2018 tax year than they would have under prior law, thanks to changes brought by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). But have you done everything possible to lower your business tax bill for last year? Even though 2018 is in your review mirror, there are some possibilities for business owners to consider if your return for the last tax year hasn't been prepared yet.

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Tags: Deductions, C corporation, LLC, Sole Propietorship, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), Qualified Business Income (QBI)

If Adopted, Overtime Pay Rules May Expand to More Employees

Posted on Wed, Mar 20, 2019

Today (and since 2004) salaried employees who earn at least $455 per week aren't eligible for overtime pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act, if their job duties are executive, administrative or professional (EAP) in nature. That's true no matter how many hours these employees work in a week. 

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Tags: Department of Labor, Highly Compensated Employee, Overtime

5 Last-Minute Ideas to Lower Your 2018 Taxes

Posted on Mon, Mar 18, 2019

It's almost Tax Day! But don't despair; there still may be time to make some moves that will save taxes for your 2018 tax year. Here are five tax-saving ideas to consider. 

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Tags: Deductions, Tax Return, Tax Deduction

Tax Issues to Consider When Small Business Owners Get Divorced

Posted on Thu, Mar 14, 2019

For many small business owners, their ownership interest is one of their biggest personal assets. What will happen to your ownership interest if you get divorced? In many cases, your marital estate will include all (or part) of your business interest.

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Tags: IRS, Divorce, Small Business

Age Has its Privileges ... and Penalties

Posted on Mon, Mar 11, 2019

In an era filled with uncertainty, you can count on one thing: time marches on. Here are some important age-related financial and tax milestones to keep in mind for you and your loved ones:

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Tags: Benefits, Social Security

How the Current Tax Law Affects Charitable Giving from IRAs

Posted on Mon, Mar 04, 2019

For charitable donors, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) provided some tax breaks and took away others. Here's what charity-minded individuals need to know.

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Tags: IRA Distributions, Charitable Giving, Charitable Donations, Charitable Contributions, IRA

IRS Issues Final QBI Deduction Regulations

Posted on Wed, Feb 13, 2019

The IRS has issued final regulations on determining allowable deductions based on qualified business income (QBI) from pass-through entities. This break is available only through 2025, unless it's extended by future legislation.

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Tags: IRS, Qualified Business Income (QBI), Pass-Through Entities

Be Careful When Saving for Your Kids' Education

Posted on Wed, Jan 30, 2019

Here's a little-known secret for parents planning to send their children to college in the future: Some of the tax-saving moves you make now could hurt your student's chances for getting financial aid later.

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Tags: Retirement Accounts, College Savings Plan Accounts, Financial Aid

2018 Income Tax Withholdings: Too Much, Too Little or Just Right?

Posted on Mon, Jan 21, 2019

Did you withhold enough money from your regular paychecks in 2018? If you withheld too little — or, didn't pay enough estimated taxes if you're self-employed — you could have an unpleasant surprise when you file your 2018 return.

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Tags: Tax Credits, Individual, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), Theft