The House Ways and Means committee has just approved a bill with a little-known amendment that is aimed directly at the middle class. While it is a humongous waste of time and should actually affect next to nobody, the fact that somebody felt it important enough to add to a bill shows the lengths some will go to attack Americans already reeling from the Great Recession.
The amendment to HR 22, a revision to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, reads:
If the Secretary receives certification by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue that any individual has a seriously delinquent tax debt in an amount in excess of $50,000, the Secretary shall transmit such certification to the Secretary of State for action with respect to denial, revocation, or limitation of a passport pursuant to section 52102(d) of the Transportation Funding Act of 2015.
In order to qualify to be grounded by the government like a teenager who stole 20 bucks from his mother’s purse, you must have a tax lien levied against you by the IRS. Your passport can now be denied or revoked if you don’t pay while the one-percenters of the world ferry off to magical international destinations to stoke their offshore accounts with more of the money they should be putting into the general fund.
So let’s examine who exactly would be affected most. The top tier of American earners are unlikely to have tax liens unless they are on their way down from either fraud or bad business practices. The working poor pay no taxes besides payroll, which are automatically deducted. Tax liens, therefore, are most likely to be something the middle class deals with more than anyone else. $50K may sound like a lot of money, but considering the recession we all just endured and how difficult it was — and in many cases still is — to get back on their feet, the middle class may have been the most likely candidates to skip out on a year or two of payments. Take into consideration the incredibly high amount the IRS charges for interest and penalties and that kind of money can accrue in a relatively short period of time.
That may seem speculative, but when you have an amendment to a bill aimed at taking away people’s right to cross from Buffalo into Canada to see the pretty waterfall, they must have someone in mind. If you have a tax lien on your property, chances are it’s because you simply could not afford to pay.
It seems an awful lot like the “no cruises” rule Republicans want to put on Welfare recipients. A whole bunch of people just shrugged their shoulders and said, “oh well.”