Restrictions on International Travel without Due Process
by Joel Nagel
A few weeks ago the United States Senate passed a piece of legislation called the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act”, it is essentially a transportation bill focused on roads and bridges. Title III of the act is a revenue provision concerning gas guzzling, cars leaking underground storage tanks, import duties and a number of other fees, taxes and other revenue enhancements.
Section 40304 is a rather bizarre provision that certainly doesn’t seem to fit in a transportation bill and is buried so deep that few senators have probably even read that far into the bill which is 1676 pages. Section 40304 is titled “Revocation or denial of passport in case at certain tax delinquencies”. The provision specifically amends the 1926 Passport Act to permit the IRS to simply ‘Certify” to the Secretary of State that an individual “has a seriously delinquent tax debt in an amount in excess of $50,000.00. The law does not require that any hearing be held or require administrative due process of any kind. In fact the IRS must only give what is called a “Notice of levy” to the tax payer. This is nothing more than the IRS’ own determination that the taxpayer owes $50,000.00 and while $50,000.00 sounds like a lot of money, it can easily be the case that much smaller amounts with penalties and interest can cross the $50,000.00 threshold.
While most folks would consider this a heavy handed tool that denies taxpayers due diligence, it brings up an even more basic question: Do you have the “right” to travel? Most people would assume the answer to this question is “yes”, but actually no such right can be found in the Constitution. While the Founding Fathers may have deemed the right to travel so basic and fundamental that they didn’t feel the need to have a separate clause defining the right, The Government beginning with the Passport Act of 1926 considers travel a “privilege” not a right.
If you want a real eye opener on this topic, pull out your own passport (authorized by the Passport Act of 1926) and turn to the fine print at the back. Remember you can’t travel outside the US without a passport nor can you legally enter the US without a passport.
So, what is in the Passport fine print? Under the section titled “Important Things to remember about your Passport “It states in number two the following:
“US Government Property: The Passport is the property of the United States Government” Upon demand made by an authorized representative of the United States Government, it must be surrendered”.
So it doesn’t matter that you paid for your Passport. The Passport along with your ability to travel abroad or reenter the US belongs to the United States Government. Any authorized representative of The Government (which now would include the IRS agents) can demand the surrender of your passport without a trial or virtually any due process other than the “notice” procedures controlled by the IRS itself.
Whether the right to travel is a Constitutional right or not, we can leave that debate for another time and place. The real issue is, do we as Americans want unelected IRS agents without judicial oversight unilaterally deciding whether or not we can travel? When even minor IRS matters can take years to resolve and no effective oversight or accountability of an agent exists, it is a very scary scenario to imagine the IRS determining whether or not a US Citizen gets to travel.
To me the action each Simon Letter Reader needs to take is clear:
First contact your local Congressman. This bill started in the Senate but must still be approved by the House of Representatives. Let your Congressman know that you don’t want your own right to travel controlled in any way shape or form by the IRS.
Secondly consider foreign residency and second citizenship programs that lead to a second passport. The ability to travel should be recognized as a fundamental right and no government should claim the right to limit or stop the travel of its citizens, except in extreme cases where clear crimes have occurred and Constitutional due process has been received by the person whose travel freedom is being limited.
Take the steps to protect your rights as Americans to travel freely. If not, there may come a day when you want to travel and your government simply says “NO”. We’ve witnessed this in other countries including Eastern Europe, The Former Soviet Union and Communist China. Don’t be so naive to think it couldn’t happen in the US. Senate Bill S1813’s revocation of Passport provision is a giant step in the wrong direction; an affront to freedom and the framework for loss of basic due process rights. Don’t ignore this law!
Joel M. Nagel is an international lawyer and entrepreneur focusing his practice in the area of asset protection, cross-border transactions, and global investment. He speaks all over the world on the topics of asset protection, global banking and investment, and international legal compliance.
Joel has written articles and has been quoted by Forbes, Fortune, Live and Invest Overseas, Hemispheres Publishing, Sovereign Society, Sovereign Man, Stansberry Research, Oxford Club, Pirate Investor, True Wealth, Islands magazine, Business Times, Physician’s Money Digest, and the Simon Letter. He also hosts a weekly radio program called the “Global Legal Advisor” broadcast over the Web on the Overseas Radio Network. Joel can be reached at Nagellaw@aol.com or 001-412-749-0500.