Mailbox Rule Regarding Delivery of Tax Returns to the IRS

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By Steven B. Gorin, Esq.  

Thompson Coburn LLP, St. Louis, MO

New regulations provide that evidence of a postmark is not sufficient to prove delivery.1

If a tax return preparer files returns, the preparer should either hand-deliver them to the IRS, use certified mail, or use an alternative described below.

When a preparer sends returns to clients, the preparer must consider not only to recommend the client send the returns certified mail but also:

  •   warn them that failure to use certified mail might invalidate the return, and
  •   encourage them to contact the preparer for alternative methods if certified mail doesn't work for them.

When someone calls to check out whether a private delivery service such as UPS or FedEx would work, one can probably say yes, but one should first confirm by looking at Notice 2004-83 or anything issued after that. Consider keeping a permanent copy of the Notice and any citation service verifying the Notice's continued accuracy in the file to back up the use of any method other than certified mail or hand delivery.

The IRS said that it will be issuing more guidance on private delivery services.

 For more information, in the Tax Management Portfolios, see Peyser, 627 T.M., Limitations Periods, Interest on Underpayments and Overpayments, and Mitigation, Levine, Peyser, and Weintraub, 630 T.M., Tax Court Litigation, and Peyser, 631 T.M., Refund Litigation,  and in Tax Practice Series, see ¶3860, Statute of Limitations, ¶3880, Tax Court Litigation, and ¶3890, Refund Claims and Litigation.


1 T.D. 9543, amending Regs. §301.7502-1, by revising paragraphs (b)(2) and (e) and adding paragraphs (c)(3) and (g)(4).