Expat organization promises to keep an eye on new passport tax rule

An expat advocate organization has promised to keep track of a new provision that could cost U.S. citizens abroad their passports.

The organization, American Citizens Abroad, Inc., opposed including the provision in a massive highway financing measure. The organization noted that the specific provision in the bill had never been subjected to a public hearing.

This is the provision that allows the U.S. Federal Government to cause an individualís U.S. passport to be revoked or  an application for issuance or renewal to be denied, if the individual is seriously delinquent with his or her tax payments, said the organization, adding that seriously delinquent is not defined.

The threshold is $50,000 or more and, while not clear, is probably comprised of tax, penalties and interest, the organization added.

American Citizens Abroad carried the fight against the measure, H.R. 22, to the Senate-House conference committee. But the bill passed anyway and became law.

ìTax bills like this one that pop up and are attached to a large bill, like the Surface Transportation Act, drive Americans living abroad crazy,î said Marylouise Serrato, executive director of American  Citizens Abroad.  ìIn their minds, this sort of thing demonstrates that Congress doesnít really  understand the realities of their situation and, to the extent it does, doesnít care.î

The organization estimated that there are from six to eight million American citizens living abroad.

As the provision has now passed and is law, American Citizens Abroad will be working with the offices of the State Department and the Internal Revenue Service to insure that Americans overseas are not unfairly targeted by this legislation, the organization said Monday.

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