On December 4, 2015, President Obama signed legislation authorizing the federal government to revoke, deny, or limit passports for individuals with a “seriously delinquent tax debt.” The law defines “seriously delinquent tax debt” as owing the IRS more than $50,000 in tax, penalties, and interest. The measure, slipped into the enormous–more than 1,300 pages–highway funding bill [Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (“Fast Act”)], gives the State Department the authority to revoke, deny or limit passports for anyone the IRS certifies as owing more than $50,000 in tax debt. Taxpayers with current installment agreements with the IRS, whereby they have agreed to pay their tax debt over time, are exempted from the law.
Continue Reading “Do Not Pass Go” Unless and Until the IRS Collects $50,000+

While Iran has taken center stage in current foreign policy discussions, Congress and the Administration are keenly aware that Cuba is on deck. Following President Obama’s historic meeting with Cuban President Raúl Castro and his announcement of intent to remove Cuba from the list of states that sponsor terrorism, members of Congress have responded by introducing bills both supporting and opposing the President’s policies, including:
Continue Reading Lawmakers Continue Taking Sides on Cuba while Cities Begin Taking Action

After more than a half-century, the U.S. has finally taken steps toward normalizing its relations with Cuba. In a series of executive actions on December 17, 2014, President Obama announced changes to existing regulations that will ease sanctions against Cuba.

U.S. and Cuban officials will meet on February 27, 2015 at the State Department to continue talks of restoring ties and ending the embargo. Likely sticking points will be the opening of a U.S. Embassy in Havana, Cuba’s continuing appearance on the U.S. list of countries that support and sponsor terrorism, the potential return of Guantanamo Bay to Cuba, and U.S. support for Cuban political dissidents.

The executive actions alone however offer various opportunities for U.S. and Cuban businesses. This is particularly true in industries such as telecommunications and agriculture where technological and scientific advances could lead to improved infrastructure and increased production.Continue Reading U.S.-Cuba Relations

Yesterday, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced increased economic sanctions against Russia, including measures against Russia’s largest bank – Sberbank Russia – as well as several state-owned defense technology companies and five energy companies (Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, Lukoil, Surgutneftegas and Rosneft).  The United States has also tightened previous restrictions by lowering from 90 days to 30 days the allowable length of debt U.S. citizens and entities may buy from sanctioned Russian banks – Bank of Moscow, Gazprombank OAO, Vnesheconombank (VEB), Russian Agricultural Bank (Rosselkhozbank),  VTB Bank OAO and Sberbank Russia.
Continue Reading US and EU Tighten Sanctions against Russian Banks, Defense and Energy Sectors