If a tax return is mailed on the due date, the return is treated as being filed in a timely manner if the return is (1) postmarked on or before the due date of the filing (including extensions, (2) properly in an envelope or other appropriate wrapper, (3) proper pre-paid postage is applied, (3) properly addressed, and (4) actually deposited in the mail in the United States
Triple Check the Address
Because the return is only treated as being timely filed if the envelope/package is properly addressed, you should verify that the address is accurate. You can generally find the proper address for filing in the instructions to the return (e.g., instructions to form 1040, form 706, or Form 709) and/or on the Internal Revenue Service website (www.irs.gov). Please note that sometimes the address for a return is different if you are using a private delivery service (see step 4 below) instead of the United States Mail.
Best Practice: Use Certified U.S. Mail with Return Receipt/Registration
Although the rules do not require that IRS tax return filings be made using certified mail, it is a good idea to use certified mail. The tax law provides that if the taxpayer has the registration showing mail, the burden of proof that the return was not properly filed falls on the Internal Revenue Service. Because the Internal Revenue Service could still overcome the presumption that the return was properly filed, you should always retain a copy of the return which you filed along with the registration. I recommend stapling the registration card to your "file" copy of the return.
Can I use a Private Delivery Service or Commercial Carrier like UPS or Federal Express?
The Internal Revenue Code does allow taxpayers to use private delivery services. Internal Revenue Bulletin 2004-52 states that DHL Express, Federal Express, and United Parcel Service/UPS are designated private delivery services. Please note, however, that all types of delivery will not count. For example, "Federal Express Saver" does not count for the "mailed equals filed" rule, so you should review Internal Revenue Bulletin 2004-52 and also check to make sure that the Secretary of the Treasury has not updated the list of designated private delivery services.
Can I Hand Deliver the Return?
The tax rules do permit taxpayers to file returns by hand/in-person. Treasury Regulations direct that a taxpayer may file the return "with any person assigned the responsibility to receive returns at the local Internal Revenue Service office that serves the legal residence or principal place of business of the person required to make the return." The address at which to hand deliver a return may be found at the www.irs.gov website. Be sure you're clear about where you fall with regard to the return you are filing and seek the advice of an attorney, tax preparer, CPA, if you are not certain as to where to file.
What if the Due Date Falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or Legal Holiday
If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, the next day which is not a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday (see Treasury Regulation A?301.7503-1(b) for legal holidays) is the actual due date. If you have questions about whether your due date may be later than the actual day because the date falls on a weekend or legal holiday, you may wish to seek the advice of an attorney, tax preparer, or CPA.
Retain a Copy of the Return
Always retain copies of all tax returns you file. You can request returns from the IRS if you lose a copy of a return, but the current charge for copies of returns is $57.00 for each they send you, and the IRS does not guarantee that it will find the return you filed. In addition, the IRS destroys returns after a certain amount of time has passed.
Disclaimer; CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE
CIRCULAR 230 NOTICE: To comply with the requirements imposed by the United States Treasury Department, any information regarding any US federal tax matters contained in this communication (including all links) is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, as advice for the purpose of (1) avoiding penalties under the Internal Revenue Code, or (2) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any transaction or matter addressed herein or in any links
Additional resources provided by the author
Internal Revenue Code (Title 26 of the United States Code),
Internal Revenue Service Website, instructions to tax returns (available at the www.irs.gov website and sometimes at public libraries and goverment offices)
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