A U.S. passport is one of the most valuable material possessions in the world — and to make sure you always protect yours, you've got to follow the rules. First off, make sure your photo passes muster, with new rules about even that process.
And on a bigger-picture level, you better pay your taxes. That's because the I.R.S. can now revoke — yes, actually take back — or deny you of a passport if you haven't paid up.
President Obama (you know, the one who has since left the White House to pursue, temporarily, the most enviable life of leisure in paradise) actually signed the rule into law in 2015, but the I.R.S. only now released details of what it entails.
It's called the FAST Act (Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act). And here's the law in a nutshell: If you're in "seriously delinquent" tax debt (more than $50,000) the I.R.S. can tell the State Department about it so they will take action. While they could come take your existing passport, it's more likely that when you apply for a new one, you'll be denied. If you're out of the country, they'll wait until you are back in the U.S.A. to pounce.
The good news is it's an easy fix if you are negligent: When you get a written letter to your home address, you simply pay your taxes or set up a payment plan. You get 90 days to sort it out before you are actually listed as someone who can't receive a new passport. That said, if you're in so deep that your passport is revoked, there is no grace period for you.
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