Congressman Ted Poe (TX-02) recently introduced H.R. 5308, the Passport Deduction for Border States Act of 2006. This legislation will allow citizens of border states to deduct the cost of purchasing a passport from their income tax return. By making passports tax deductible, we make them more attractive to travelers and increase our security and efficiency at our points of entry, said Poe.

In 2004, Congress passed the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act. Among the provisions created by that bill was the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI) that requires anyone entering the United States to have a passport or other accepted document that establishes the bearers identity and nationality.

The deadline to be in compliance with the WHTI requirements for land border travel is January 1, 2008. The realty is that these travelers are woefully unprepared for the new requirement as evidenced by the low 26 percent passport ownership rate in America, said Poe. The Passport Deduction for Border States Act of 2006 seeks to encourage expanded passport ownership by making passports an equally affordable option by allowing applicants who live in states along the southern and northern border to deduct the full cost of their passport fees on their income tax return.

Last year, Congressman Poe introduced H.R. 4120, the Passport for All Act, which would require anyone entering the United States to have a passport. A passport only policy is needed and preferred by U.S. Customs and Border Protection because of a passports security features and its possible expanded uses as a viable document for a fully functioning entry-exit system, said Poe. The passport is the universal identification document used around the world. Currently, we expect our Border Patrol Agents to authenticate hundreds of various documents and keep no record of who is entering or exiting our country, said Poe. The passport only policy was a vital component of border security highlighted by the 9/11 Commission.

Congressman Poe is joined on H.R 5308 by Reps. Bass (R-NH), McMorris (R-WA), and Kilpatrick (D-MI).