Date: Tue, 19 Sep 2006 22:09:38 -0700 (MST)
Subject: Re: [lpaz-discuss] Passport information
M Renzulli wrote:
I applied for and received a passport in '98 without using a social security account number. At the time, the USPS was accepting passport applications on behalf of the State Dept. Before the USPS would mail an application however, they required that it be checked over by a postal worker first. The postal worker I interacted with insisted I had to supply a number. I was equally insistent that I didn't.
After some back and forth where I had the opportunity to educate the postal worker regarding the specific requirements surrounding SSAN's in the Social Security Act, Title 42 of the U.S. Code I believe, along with the Privacy Act of 1974 and the felony penalty statute located at 42 USC 408(a)(8) for unlawfully compelling an individual to divulge a SSAN, she eventually saw things my way and accepted my application without a SSAN.
I received a passport about four weeks later without any additional hassles or threats of fines from the IRS. I've also not heard of anyone being fined for failure to provide a SSAN on a passport application but I haven't done an exhaustive search either.
I don't know how things may have changed over the past several years other then the fact that the USPS no longer accepts passport applications on behalf of the State Dept. My understanding at the time was the State Dept. couldn't care less whether or not a SSAN appeared on an application. The only reason why the IRS was involved was because they track an American citizen's finances while traveling overseas for income tax purposes. Specifically, the IRS attempts to determine whether or not an American citizen has foreign sources of income for tax reporting purposes.
Anyway, since the Social Security Act only requires foreigners working in the United States or individuals who have made application for federal benefits (social security, welfare, etc) to have a social security account number to begin with, I don't think you can (legally) be denied a passport for failing/refusing to supply a number on the application. Whether or not you'll get hassled by the IRS is unknown however.
If you're interested in general background information regarding social security account numbers and one man's ongoing experiment with living without one - check out:
"The Social Security Act does not require a person to have an SSN to live and work in the United States, nor does it require an SSN simply for the purpose of having one. However, if someone works without an SSN, we cannot properly credit the earnings for the work performed."Hope this helps.
P.S. Here's the text of 42 USC 408(a)(8):
Here is another post from Terry where he says the State Department doesn't have the power to demand that you supply them with an SS number and he cites the laws.
> Mike's question pertains to authority. Does the State Department have statutory authority to require a SSN on a passport application and impose fines for failing to include this number?
* The short answer:
No. The State Department can neither require a social security account number or impose fines for failing to disclose one on a passport application.
The application instructions identify two governing statutes.
Under 31 USC 7701, the State Department can require an individual with a valid taxpayer identification number (not necessarily the same as a social security account number) provide it to them in the event the Department has to initiate debt collection action against the individual for failure to pay fees associated with the service. This is separate from the passport application itself and applies broadly across all federal government entities.
The imposition of fines is associated with 26 USC 6039E which can only be enforced by the IRS. Similar to 31 USC 7701, it has to do with providing a taxpayer identification number as opposed to a social security account number. The State Department only has authority to report individuals to the IRS for possible violations of the statute. The State Department cannot enforce it themselves.
With regards to Mike specifically, if he has a social security account number that was issued in accordance with 42 USC 205(c)(2)(A) and 42 USC (c)(2)(B)(i) and that number is the same as his taxpayer identification number then he must disclose the taxpayer identification number when making application for a passport or face possible fines from the IRS - not the State Department. Otherwise, Mike has no legal obligation to disclose a social security account number or make application for a number so that it can be included on a passport application.
* The long answer:
The Privacy Act of 1974 governs disclosure requests for SSAN's by all government entites:
Section 7 of Pub. L. 93-579 provided that: '(a)(1) It shall be unlawful for any Federal, State or local government agency to deny to any individual any right, benefit, or privilege provided by law because of such individual's refusal to disclose his social security account number.As such, any request for a SSAN by a government entity must include the information required by the Privacy Act appearing above.
I downloaded the passport application from the State Department to see by what statuatory authority it was requesting the disclosure of a SSAN. I found the following two privacy act statements on the instructions:
1.) "Section 6039E of the Internal Revenue Code (26 USC 6039E) requires you to provide your Social Security Number (SSN). If you have one, when you apply for a U.S. passport. if you have not been issued a SSN, enter zeros in box #5 of this form. If you are residing abroad, you must also provide the name of the foreign country in which you are residing. The U.S. Department of State must provide your SSN and foreign residence information to the Department of Treasury. If you fail to provide the information, you are subject to a $500.00 penalty enforced by the IRS. All questions on this matter should be directed to the nearest IRS office."
2.) "31 USC 7701 requires persons "doing business" with a federal agency to provide their Social Security Numbers to that agency. Because the U.S. Department of State collects fees for the provision of passport services to you, you are considered a person 'doing business' with the department...If the Department fails to receive full payment of the applicable fees, because, for example, your check is returned for any reason or you dispute a passport fee charge to your credit card, the U.S. Department of State will take action to collect the delinquit fees..."
In the first statement, the State Department indicates the governing statute for the SSAN request is located in title 26 and enforced by the IRS. Unfortunately, they misrepresent the statute. The statute requires a taxpayer identification number - not a social security account number. Further, the State Department neither enforces the statute directly nor imposes fines under the statute. Only the IRS has the authority to do this.
The text of 26 USC 6039E can be found at:
You'll find no mention of the social security account number - only a taxpayer identification number for those who have one.
The second statement references 31 USC 7701 as the governing statute for the social security account number request. Once again, the Department misrepresents the statute's requirements by indicating it applies to a SSAN as opposed to a taxpayer identification number.
The text of 31 USC 7701 can be found at:
While many people's social security account number is the same as their taxpayer identification number, this is not true of everyone. Many other people do not have a social security account number, do not qualify for a social security account number, or were not issued a social security account number in accordance with 42 USC 205(c)(2)(A) as required by 26 USC 6109(d).
I'll email mmore on this later.
Subject: [lpaz-discuss] SSAN Requirements
It's instructive to see how weak the chains are that bind us in many circumstances.
One example is the recent thread regarding whether the State Department has the authority to mandate the use of social security account numbers (SSAN's) on passport applications. The underlying assumption being that everyone already has a validly issued SSAN with the only real question being whether this government entity can legally demand its disclosure. The far more interesting question (to me anyway) is who is required to have a SSAN to begin with. After all, if you haven't already been legally tagged by the government and aren't legally required to get tagged except under specific circumstances, the original question posed is mute.
Prior to 2000, I did a fair amount of research on this subject and gathered together much documentation. This documentation included a letter I wrote to the Director of the Social Security Administration in 1998 specifically requesting to know whether or not there was any law requiring an American citizen to obtain a number and if so, under what circumstances. I received a response from the agency that stated in pertinent part:
"The Social Security Act does not require a person to have a Social Security Number (SSN) to live and work in the United States, nor does it require an SSN simply for the purpose of having one. However, if someone works without an SSN, we cannot properly credit the earnings for the work performed."Several years have passed since I last revisited the pertinent statutes associated with the issuance of SSAN's so I took another look recently to see if anything of consequence had changed since my original correspondence. As expected - it hasn't. Regardless of how far the country has fallen, the government still hasn't been so bold as to presume it can unilaterally number each and everyone of us like cattle or general inventory. Why should it, after all, when most of us are more than happy to do it ourselves based on the flimsiest of demands or in exchange for some public benefit?
True to the letter I received in 1998 from the Social Security Administration (SSA), the statute's show a SSAN is NOT required to live and work in the United States. In fact, the agency can only legally issue SSAN's to two classes of individuals. These include work-eligible foreigners lawfully admitted into the United States and individuals who apply for and/or receive federal benefits.
The specific statute in question is located at 42USC405(c)(2)(B)(i) - see http://www.law.cornell.edu/socsec/act/0205.htm:
42 USC 405(c)(2):
"(B)(i) In carrying out the Commissioner's duties under subparagraph (A) and subparagraph (F), the Commissioner of Social Security shall take affirmative measures to assure that social security account numbers will, to the maximum extent practicable, be assigned to all members of appropriate groups or categories of individuals by assigning such numbers (or ascertaining that such numbers have already been assigned):The statute is clear. SSAN's are only needed by two classes of individuals. If you fall under neither class, you are not eligible for a number and the commissioner cannot legally issue a number to you.
One hangup that folks have regarding SSAN's is the false belief they must also have such a number for tax return purposes. A quick look at the pertinent statute though quickly alleviates this concern. Specifically, 26 USC 6109(d) states:
"(d) Use of social security account number The social security account number issued to an individual for purposes of section 205(c)(2)(A) of the Social Security Act shall, except as shall otherwise be specified under regulations of the Secretary, be used as the identifying number for such individual for purposes of this title."As such, if an individual has never been issued a SSAN or if he/she was issued a number contrary to 42 USC 405(c)(2)(A), that individual has no obligation to use a SSAN on IRS tax forms. Further, the above statute indicates the Secretary of the Treasury has the authority to promulgate regulations for generating non-SSAN identifying numbers for individuals. A search through the Internal Revenue Code reveals however that the IRS has failed to do so for any class of individuals other than aliens.
Work-eligible aliens can apply for an ITIN (individual taxpayer identification number) but Americans cannot. The IRS has made no provisions to generate ITIN's for Americans who do not have a SSAN (which raises several interesting questions in and of itself for those keyed into such issues).
To make a long story short, if you don't want to be numbered like a piece of inventory and don't want to make it easy for government (and private) entities to track your every move then don't make application for federal benefits, don't use a Social Slavery Number, and challenge the validity of any such number already issued to you. Under such circumstances, both the Privacy act of 1974 and 42 USC 408 can be used to assist you in your efforts. Otherwise you're just strengthening the chains that bind you and making the Real ID Act that much easier to implement in the years to come.
"Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong that will be imposed upon them, and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress." - Fredrick Douglass 1857
What exactly are you willing to endure?
Read the excerpt below carefully:
"Michael Cooke, executive director of the state's Department of Revenue, which oversees the DMV, has changed the rules for Colorado IDs four times since the new anti-immigration law went into effect Aug. 1 to counter fake documents.
"The face of fraud is changing so rapidly as people try to outwit our changes of policy," said Rick Archer, chief investigator for the Revenue Department.
DMV offices are seeing people attempting to use fraudulent Texas and Puerto Rico birth certificates, American Indian tribal ID cards, and even U.S. passports.
Cooke said the federal government does not require the use of a person's full legal name for the issuance of a passport. It also does not require "rigid proof" of identity or legal residency in the United States.
And, Cooke said, if an applicant can't produce some form of ID, he or she can still get a passport if friends or family members take an oath that they've known the individual for at least two years and that he or she is a U.S. citizen. "
Red tape ensnares state's new ID law