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A transportation funding bill signed into law earlier this month (December 2015) includes a controversial tax collection measure that may affect U.S. citizens’ freedom to travel. Beginning in 2016, the new provision allows the IRS to disclose to the U.S. State Department the identities of taxpayers with “seriously delinquent tax debt.”
A principal feature of the U.S. tax system is self-assessment; taxpayers are expected to accurately report their income and pay the appropriate level of tax when due. The federal government has limited resources to ensure compliance, however, so it recognizes the crucial need to have a policy in place to encourage non-compliant taxpayers to “come in from the cold” and avoid the more severe criminal sanctions that can arise in cases of intentional non-compliance. Many states, as well as several foreign countries, utilize similar procedures.