Whether you are mailing in your tax return, filing it electronically, or sending it by private delivery service, BE SURE you know when the IRS counts your return as having been mailed and received. It's tricky, and you don't want to risk having the IRS count your return as LATE.
When Does the IRS Consider My Return "Mailed?"
If you mail your return using the U.S. Postal Service, the postmark date is the date the IRS accepts. Be sure the envelope os properly addressed to the correct IRS location, and that you have enough postage.
If you use certified mail, the postmarked certified mail receipt is evidence that the return was delivered. If I am mailing a tax return or payment, I always use certified mail and I check online to make sure that it was delivered.
What About Private Delivery Services?
The IRS says, "If you use a private delivery service designated by the IRS to send your return, the postmark date generally is the date the private delivery service records in its database or marks on the mailing label. " (The IRS lists DHL, Federal Express, and UPS as designated private delivery services.) But the court cases governing these cases have been inconsistent among the states, and using the general rule (i.e. use of the U.S. mails) is the only safe way to ensure that your business tax return will be considered "mailed" by the IRS. The IRS also emphasizes that private delivery services cannot deliver items to PO Boxes; and that you must use the U.S. Postal Service to mail to IRS PO boxes.
What about Electronic Filing?
If you use IRS e-file, your return is considered filed on time if the authorized electronic return transmitter postmarks the transmission by the due date. The electronic postmark is a record of when the authorized electronic return transmitter received the transmission of your electronically filed return on its host system. The date and time in your your time zone controls whether your electronically filed return is timely.
- Copy the envelope. If you can take a digital photo of the envelope or run the envelope through a copier (after it is postmarked, of course), you can verify the postmark in case of a question.
- Send certified. I always send my business tax returns by certified mail. It costs a little more, but you get a receipt with a postmark on it, and you can go to the USPS website and enter the receipt number to verify that your return was received.
- Or do both. Whatever you do, be sure you can prove your postmark or e-file date for your return.
Whatever you do, make sure you (1) mail using USPS, not a private delivery service, and (2) get proof of postmark.