Owing back taxes to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will affect your application for a passport, if the back taxes are considered criminal non-payment. Typically, simply owing back taxes doesn’t stop your passport application. This is especially true if you are working with the IRS to pay those taxes.
However, if you owe back taxes and you are being investigated by the IRS because it believes you are trying to defraud the government, then you not receive a passport. Criminal nonpayment isn’t about forgetting to pay your taxes on time. Instead criminal nonpayment means that you are knowingly trying to defraud the government. For instance, if the IRS is investigating you for either selling or buying goods and services at below market level so you can avoid paying the correct tax amount, then you may be denied a passport. Also, if you are being investigated for moving money into bank accounts out of the country or hiding money just so you don’t have to pay taxes to the IRS, then your passport application may be denied. Therefore, your passport application may be denied for fear that you will leave the United States and not return and not pay the back taxes.
Criminal nonpayment is serious and can have devastating consequences beyond not being allowed to leave the United States. Therefore, if the IRS is investigating you for criminal nonpayment or you owe back taxes then you should seek legal advice. A lawyer may be able to help you settle with the IRS.