Update: Still Filing a Paper Return? Be Sure You Understand the “Timely Mailed = Timely Filed” Rule

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The IRS considers a paper return that’s due April 15 to be timely filed if it’s postmarked by midnight on April 15. But dropping your return in a mailbox on the 15th may not be sufficient.

For example, let’s say you mail your return with a payment on April 15, but the envelope gets lost. You don’t figure this out until a couple of months later when you notice that the check still hasn’t cleared. You then refile and send a new check. Despite your efforts to timely file and pay, you’re hit with failure-to-file and failure-to-pay penalties totaling $1,500.

To avoid this risk, use certified or registered mail or one of the private delivery services designated by the IRS to comply with the timely filing rule, such as:

  • FedEx Priority Overnight
  • FedEx Standard Overnight
  • FedEx 2Day
  • UPS Next Day Air Saver
  • UPS 2nd Day Air
  • UPS 2nd Day Air A.M.

Beware: If you use an unauthorized delivery service, your return isn’t “filed” until the IRS receives it. For example, DHL is no longer an authorized delivery service.

If you’re concerned about meeting the April 15 deadline, another option is to file for an extension. We can help you determine if that makes sense for you.

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Any accounting, business, or tax advice contained in this communication, including attachments and enclosures, is not intended as a thorough analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor was it written to be used to avoid tax related penalties.