IRS Now Has Authority To Revoke Passports, Passport Provision Was Part Of Infrastructure Spending Bill That President Obama Signed Into Law

Louis Babcock

The IRS now has the authority to revoke U.S. passports. On Friday, President Obama signed into law H.R. 22 – Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act, the "FAST Act." The "Fast Act," is a plan for the United States to focus on fixing an aging infrastructure and create jobs. The bi-partisan bill earmarks $305 billion to go towards infrastructure projects and is being hailed as a huge accomplishment. But deep inside the 1,300-page bill is where the IRS was granted the authority to revoke United States passports.

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In 2012, the Government Accountability Office put together a 26-page document in which they outlined why passports should be used as a way to collect back taxes. When the report came out in 2012, the idea was seen as very controversial and did not have much support. As part of the bill to repair our roads, the new power granted to the IRS passed with no issues at all.

In order to get to the "Revocation or Denial of Passport in Case of Certain Tax Delinquencies" section of H.R. 22, you need to read through the first 1,112 pages of the 1,300 pages in the bill. It states that the State Department can revoke, deny, or limit the passport of anyone in the United States if the IRS tells them that a tax debt of $50,000 or more is owed. The administrative details of how this all will work are still not fully known.

The State Department will now act at the order of the IRS if the IRS tells them to take action on a person's passport. Normally, passports are only used for travel that takes people outside of the United States but in 2016, passports are going to be needed by some people to travel within the borders of the United States.

The Real ID Act goes into enforcement in 2016. The act sets up a national standard for identification that is issued on the state level. Four states have not complied with the standards set forth in the Real ID Act and may force people in those states to get a passport in order to board an airplane for domestic travel. The states in question are New York, New Hampshire, Louisiana, and Minnesota. Since their state-issued IDs will no longer meet the standard set forth in the Real ID Act, they will need a federal ID in order to get on a plane. Three of the four states have been granted waivers and their state IDs will still work, for now. Louisiana's waiver expires on October 10, 2016. New Hampshire's expires on June 1, 2016. In New York, no date is set for when their waiver expires. Minnesota has no waiver and passports will be needed there for air travel starting on January 1, 2016.

Citizens of those four states now risk not being able to travel by plane within the borders of the United States if they have a large tax debt.

The IRS has been given authority in healthcare and now in travel. Should the IRS be given the authority to be able to dictate who can have a passport and who can't? Do you think this part of the law will be considered constitutional if it questions at the Supreme Court? What are your thoughts on the new passport rules going into effect?

[Image via AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite]