Congress urged to go slow in stripping tax violators of passports

American Citizens Abroad has urged the U.S. Congress to delay a measure that would strip citizens of their passports if they were delinquent with tax payments.

The expat advocacy organization said that the tax provision has been added to a surface transportation bill.  The measure authorizes the revocation or denial of renewal of passports if the holder owes what the U.S. Internal Revenue Service claims is more than $50,000 in taxes.

American Citizens Abroad called the measure draconian and discriminatory. In a letter Friday to congressional leaders it urged that the measure be delayed until hearings are held and alternate ways to solve the problem are explored.

The organization noted that overseas IRS offices have been closed and that there are few chances for citizens to meet with revenue officers to seek resolution of their tax problems.

The measure discriminated against “American abroad, who unlike Americans living in the U.S.,  are overwhelmingly reliant upon their U.S, passports in their everyday lives,” said the organization.

A tax debt of $50,000 initially appears large, but as some  U.S. expats here have learned, the IRS piles on penalties and interest on even the smallest claim.

The United Sates is just one of a few countries that tax its citizens on earnings overseas, something expat advocacy organizations oppose.

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