The United States Tax Court Chief Judge Michael B. Thornton recently announced that the Tax Court has adopted interim amendments and has issued proposed amendments to the Tax Court Rules of Practice and Procedure relating to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, and the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015. Among the proposed amendments to the Tax Court Rules are rules relating to the new ability of the IRS to issue a certification to the Secretary of State for action with respect to denial, revocation, or limitation of a passport in the case of “seriously delinquent tax debts.” I.R.C. sec. 7345(a).

A “seriously delinquent tax debt” is an unpaid, legally enforceable federal tax liability that has been assessed, is greater than $50,000, and for which lien and levy notices have been issued. Exceptions to a “seriously delinquent tax debt” are those which are being paid pursuant to an installment agreement or those to which collection is suspended due to a pending Collection Due Process hearing or a request for innocent spouse relief that has been filed.

In cases where the IRS has already issued a certification to the Secretary of State, the IRS may reverse such certification under certain circumstances, such as where a debt has been paid in full or where the certification has been issued in error.

Both the initial certification and a later failure to reverse the certification are reviewable in the Tax Court. The proposed rules, Rules 350 through 354, govern jurisdiction of the Tax Court, commencement of a certification action, place of trial, and pleadings.