IRS seeking nearly $500B in back taxes

FILE - This March 22, 2013 file photo shows the exterior of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

WASHINGTON (SBG) - The Internal Revenue Service is on a mission to collect hundreds of billions of dollars owed in back taxes from delinquent taxpayers and is now enlisting other government agencies to help.

How much is still owed by U.S. taxpayers? The IRS says $458 billion.

If you're among them and haven't started a payment plan, interest will accrue not monthly but daily.

"You’re paying interest on interest on interest every day," said IRS national taxpayer advocate Nina Olson. "The worst thing you can do if you have a debt is do nothing at all."

It's not just piling on the debt; the IRS can also seize your property, garnish your wages and take legal action.

"The IRS has a huge suite of tools to get taxpayers to pay back taxes and some of those tools are very blunt," said Pete Sepp, president of the National Taxpayers Union.

Another one of those blunt tools involves joining forces with the U.S. State Department and revoking or refusing to renew passports as well.

"This is a dangerous new weapon that taxpayers need to be aware of," Sepp said.

It turns out it's a weapon that's working.

The IRS says so far, it's in the process of sending more than 360,000 names of individuals who owe $51,000 or more in delinquent taxes. The program, part of the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act from 2015, requires the State Department to deny new or renewal passport applications, and in some cases, revoke current passports.

It's the latest in a series of actions on which the IRS is leaning to step up efforts to collect.

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