Monday, April 9, 2012

A New Law Would Strip Tax Debtors of Their Passports

The freedom to travel.

Its not a right protected by the US Constitution. If it were, we'd never have had the counter-productive, idiotic, decades-long ban on travel to our neighbor Cuba.

Nor would the Congress be considering a law that would strip citizens of their passports should they owe money to the IRS.

That's right, fall behind on your taxes and you ain't going anywhere, buddy.

Now let me make something clear here: I am not against taxes in general. I've been to countries where the taxes are minimal and consequently so are the government services. Where you can taste the air because there's no agency setting and enforcing pollution standards and drinking the water is a danger for the same reason. Where driving is a white knuckle exercise thanks to massive potholes and un-policed stretches of highway. I know, first hand, that having a strong, central government is a necessity in this complex day and age, and that taxes are necessary to fund such governments.

But the idea of stripping someone of their passport is a wrong one, even though the threshold is high ($50, 000 in back taxes). The tax-debtor would be deprived of their passport even if they aren't charged with tax evasion, or any other sort of tax-related crime.

This law seems to assume that travel is only a frivolous entertainment and that's far from the case. Such an action could stop a legitimate business people from making a living by curtailing their ability to attend international business meetings. With their wings clipped, these debtors will have even less ability to pay back taxes.

The bill has passed the Senate and is on its way to Congress. To read more about it, click here.

3 comments:

  1. This is deeply troubling. I hope cooler heads prevail in the House. Um, then again, maybe not ...

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  2. Sadly, I am concerned that something like this could be passed. I too believe Taxes are a necessity to an advanced Country and Government. But to take away someone's ability to travel outside the U.S. based solely on the fact that they may have back taxes that have not been paid, yet. And they have not been charged with Tax Evasion or Fraud or some other criminal charge is ludicrous and smacks of "Big Brother". I know many people who have a passport for other reasons than just for travel purposes.

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