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Tax lien and levy not only IRS enforcement tools

Most Georgia taxpayers realize the IRS has numerous ways of recovering unpaid taxes. Common horror stories that keep citizens honest during tax season involve prison time for serious offenders, wage garnishments and possible imposition of a tax lien on real estate. It may surprise many to learn that the IRS can also exert influence over whether a citizen has the option to leave the country. Though there is no defense except for catching up on debt, there are some easy steps to avoid suffering the indignity of being refused the right to travel abroad.

The IRS does not have direct authority over passport issuance or revocation, but the law allows the Department of State to deny or fail to renew the passport of a citizen with delinquent tax debt. The concern is that a person facing more than $50,000 in past due debt may attempt to flee the country to assets stored in a foreign location. Those with extreme debts could also be dodging criminal charges.

Neither the IRS nor the State Department are required to prove a person is a flight risk. The existence of the delinquent debt is enough. This provides the number one way of preventing loss of travel for business or pleasure. Debts are not considered delinquent with a payment plan in place and payments up to date. Also, even delinquent debts under $50,000 are not subject to passport restrictions.

It is not uncommon for Atlanta taxpayers facing an IRS audit or complex tax issues to put off dealing with the problem. This can result in worse outcomes, however, as people might lose opportunities to appeal, negotiate payments or receive the elimination of tax audit penalties. Instead of hesitating, anyone facing an audit may benefit from contacting an experienced attorney who can assist with preparation and subsequent negotiations.

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