Americans Helping Americans Abroad

Background – Revocation of passports of “delinquent taxpayers"

On December 4, 2015, HR 22, the “Highway Bill”, became Public Law N° 114-94. Title XXXII, Subtitle A, “Offsets”, contains provisions for the denial of issuance or revocation of the passport of any individual who has a “seriously delinquent” tax debt of over $50,000.

It states that if notified by the Secretary of the Treasury, “the Secretary of State shall not issue a passport to any (such) individual.” Also that “the Secretary of State may revoke a passport previously issued to any (such) individual”. And that “the Secretary of State may issue a passport, in emergency circumstances or for humanitarian reasons, to (any such) individual.”

If the Secretary of State decides to revoke a previously issued passport, the Secretary may 1) limit the previously issued passport only for return travel to the United States or 2) issue a limited passport that only permits return travel to the United States.

AARO alerted the Co-Chairs of the Americans Abroad Caucus (see position paper here) to the particularly serious effects this could have on overseas Americans, who often need passports as proof of identity when living abroad and do not use them to “flee the country” but rather to move as normally among countries abroad as most Americans do between the states.

One solution – flexibility in implementation

The Caucus Co-Chairs, Representatives Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina and Caroline Maloney of New York, have written a letter to Secretary Kerry, urging the State Department to consider the special circumstances of U.S. citizens resident abroad when implementing this provision. They are hoping to have other legislators “sign on” with their support, showing that this is a real problem.

What you can do – Write to your legislators

Send this letter to your Congressman (and to your Senators!), asking them to add their names in support of the letter. You can use or adapt this model letter to explain why this is important. The sooner your letter is sent, the better chance we have that State will be understanding if one of us or our friends risks losing a passport!

Whenever you write to your legislators, remind them that 2015 State Department estimates put the overseas American population at 8.7 million, the equivalent in numbers to the 12th state (or equal to the combined populations of Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Tuscon...)!