Thanks to Mike for finding this article.
As reported by the National Review, a U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeal ruled that it is ok for the U.S. Department of State to revoke a U.S. passport (to be used e.g., for international travel) if the IRS has certified that the person owes more than $50,000 in federal taxes.
As the Court says: “…the passport revocation serves only to incentivize repayment of the tax debt.”
See the July 20, 2021 ruling.
Do US persons have a right to international travel?
The Court did mention:
“That the right to international travel is deeply woven into our history and tradition is hard to deny. The Magna Carta established that it “shall be lawful for any man to leave and return to our kingdom unharmed and without fear, by land or water, preserving his allegiance to us, except in time of war, for some short period, for the common benefit of the realm.” [1215 Magna Carta, Section 42.] Similar notions appear in Blackstone: “By the common law, every man may go out of the realm for whatever cause he pleaseth, without obtaining the king’s leave . . . .”
“That said, freedom to leave one’s country and explore the world beyond national borders strikes me as a deep and fundamental component of human liberty…”
“Moreover, the right to travel internationally is all but indispensable for the exercise of another long-established right: the right of expatriation, or the right to quit one’s country and renounce one’s citizenship. In 1868, Congress enacted legislation to protect this right, declaring, “[T]he right to expatriation is a natural and inherent right of all people, indispensable to the enjoyment of the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness . . . .” Act of July 27, 1868, 15 Stat. 223. It therefore “declared inconsistent with the fundamental principles of this government” any governmental action that “denies, restricts, impairs, or questions the right of expatriation.”
“Expatriation is contingent on exit. If the right of expatriation is deeply woven into our country’s history, so too is the concomitant right to travel beyond our borders.”
— But, The Court also concluded:
“Although Mr. Maehr has presented colorable arguments about the importance of international travel as a matter of policy, he has not shown there is a fundamental right of international travel by citing to cases from “the Supreme Court or the Tenth Circuit.” See Abdi, 942 F.3d at 1028…”Because neither party advocated for what I consider to be the proper standard, I must leave the judgment of the district court undisturbed. For procedural reasons, then, I concur in the judgment.”
FINANCIAL SLAVERY, DEFINED. NO LONGER A THEORY POSTULATED BY ATTORNEYS AND ACCOUNTANTS!
Accuse my ignorance but all the court did,IMHO, was to make sure that if you are an American citzen (homelander or not) you have to pay your dues or it will cost you your US passport. If you are an American living overseas and not paying your American dues you shouldn’t have the privilege of an American passport .
By their reasoning,this is entirely logical. That should have happened a long time ago. What am I missing here?
A US court ruled in favor of the US government. Imagine that.
Robert Ross – you’re missing a lot! Laws are not applied equally and the incidence of justice in the courts whenever a person is fortunate to get an actual trial, with regards to Law is quite low.
Historically whenever a statement like yours is oversimplified and equated to everybody it leads to abuse by those in power. Same is true for the theory and notion that if one has nothing to hide, go ahead and search files/paper/computer/phones/other records.
Robert Ross – this is what the colonialists we’re dealing with, in concept, which is why they cried freedom and declared independence from the abusers living in another country! Starting to “Get It” now?
4th, 5th & 6th amendments to the US Constitution, start by reading those. US person/green card holder/citizen does not have to go to court and be convicted to lose their passport! Wake up!
Of zero interest to dual citizens and Accidental Americans, thankfully.
Expats without a second passport remain vulnerable.
Is this a case where the current Supreme Court could give us hope??
I’m not holding my breath — probable no deep pocketed donor here to satisfy.
” if the IRS has certified that the person owes more than $50,000 in federal taxes…” . If you concerned about revoked passport for this , it was a surprisingly long time in coming. when one follows the dysfunctional and unethical logical of cbt, what should you expect? By the way, the IRS can and does garnish SS benefits which to most is much more important ,and besides most Americans (homelanders) don’t even have passports ? Aso,aside from any constitutional violations, cbt is firstly a human rights violation and sadly nothing will ever come of it. I do ,however, see your indignation
As I understand it, the administrative threshold to certify someone as non-compliant with US taxes and owing $50,000 worth of taxes is quite low. Therefore, virtually any IRS bureaucrat can vitiate a fundamental right.
I know that much of the Isaac Brock community advocates not filing, not renouncing, and simply ignoring the US tax rules whilst complying with the rules in one’s country of residence and cases like this demonstrate the wisdom of such advice. The situation is hopeless from the standpoint of individual freedom.
I abide by the local tax laws in Switzerland where I am a citizen and I ignore the US rules. Given the arbitrariness of US actions, such as effectively banning Europeans from entering the US because of Covid-19, it is probably not a bad idea to avoid the US as much as possible.
Checking in here for the first time in awhile.
This is an interesting decision. I completely disagree with the SCOTUS decision if we are talking about bogus FATCA or FBAR penalties. If someone incurs penalties due to the illegitimate application of US law extraterritorially, it is wrong to revoke their passport.
I’m less certain if the tax debt is a real tax debt arising from income earned while the person was a US resident. Certainly revoking the passport of a US citizen (accidental or otherwise) is not something that I would see as a violation of Canadian sovereignty in the same way that demanding Canadian bank account data is. But that doesn’t necessarily make it right either.
Just to offer another data point: it appears that Canada has no similar law revoking Canadian passports for tax debt, but Canada does have a law revoking Canadian passports for unpaid child support or alimony.
Minor correction and I don’t see a way to edit a post already made: this was a 10th circuit decision not a SCOTUS decision.
It could just as well have been the SCOTUS, no difference. THe US does not consider FATCA nor FBARs to be bogus nor extraterritorial. They consider all US citzens wherever they may be and ALL income earned by said US citzens ,as something of interest to them for tax purposes and of course there are income exclusions and tax credits to lessen that tax pain .
I am waaay below any threshhold they have so I do not owe them anything, but the next time a bubble bursts, they will say all the same things again (just like 2010) that Americans Overseas “aren’t paying their fair share” and call you a list of names. It just isn’t worth it. Get rid of it now before the fee goes to $10k
I also loathe the term “Homelander” (I think Peter, the founder of this site invented that term way back when it started) —- that place abandoned me/us a long time ago, so anywhere is my “homeland” except for that place. Luckily, I have other citizenships in other countries that are better/leave you alone. Good luck to all!
@geeeeez, I used “homelander” a lot. I didn’t invent the term.
Denial of a passport is essentially a removal of a right. It is a principle of law that removal of rights should only occur in accordance with proper “due process” (to use the USA term) or “principles of fundamental justice” (Canadian speak–see Section 7 Charter of Rights and Freedoms). The ability of the IRS to unilaterally declare a person indebted to them and thus unworthy of a passport, is a form of punishment without due process. If done by law, such punishment would be called a “bill of attainder” and if done by the executive it is a “decree” or “edict”. So when done by a tax authority, I suppose it is called “business as usual”.
We have become so used to our mobility rights being taken away. It has been so easy for governments to stop people from traveling or crossing borders (or even provincial boundaries) in these last two years. It rendered my passport (Canadian) of no use.
Petros, US law does not recognize any right to a passport; US citizens whose travel is deemed not to be interest of the government may well be denied one. Read this:
It should be noted that the People’s Republic of China won’t renew passports for Uyghers abroad, issuing similar travel documents valid one-way back to China. It might be possible to board a flight from Dubai to change planes in Toronto and on to Beijing, thereby entering Canada where an application for asylum could be made.