- Days left

How to Prove to the IRS You Filed Your Taxes on Time

×
BY7WT9 Man mailing his tax payment, drop box, United States  USA; tax; payment; taxes; person; sending; due; IRS; man; taxes; du
Alamy
April 15 is just days away. If you're one of those last-minute tax filers, you don't have to worry about leaving time for your return to get from your mailbox to the appropriate Internal Revenue Service office. However, you do need to know how you can prove to the IRS that you weren't late in delivering your tax return -- in case something happens to it in transit and you get audited for unpaid tax, interest, and penalties.

The General Rule: When You Mail Is When You File

As most last-minute filers already know, the general rule for the IRS is that as long as you meet the appropriate requirements, the date that you mail your return and tax payment to the IRS is treated as the date that you filed or paid your taxes. This rule applies to returns and other required documents for which a specified date or period is given in the tax laws.

For example, for filing a tax return, the April 15 deadline qualifies for the mailing-date rule. But if you were already late and were trying to get taxes filed in order to avoid further extra payments for failing to file, then the mailing-date rule won't stop the clock from running on interest and penalties.

In order to have a return or payment qualify as having been mailed, you have to use a properly addressed envelope and send it by mail in a timely manner. Moreover, the envelope must have a postmark from the U.S. Postal Service that is no later than the date the return is due.

So if you put your return in a mailbox on April 15, but it doesn't get postmarked until April 16, you're treated as having filed late. To avoid this problem, you can use registered or certified mail to establish that it has officially been mailed. Your postmarked receipt establishes when you filed, even if your return subsequently gets lost.

If you don't want to use the U.S. Postal Service, you have a few other alternatives. Certain private-delivery services, including DHL Express, FedEx (FDX), and United Parcel Service (UPS), qualify for the mailing-date rule. But in general, you have to use next-day or second-day delivery services; standard ground rates won't qualify for the rule. The IRS maintains a list of qualifying delivery services.

The Benefits of Electronic Filing

Electronic filings are treated as having been filed on the date of the electronic postmark: The record of the date and time that your return gets transmitted.

You won't necessarily get proof of e-filing right away. According to the IRS, the tax professional who files your return electronically will get confirmation within 48 hours that your return was accepted, or if it needs corrections and retransmission. That confirmation should bear the original date and time that you filed it.

You can follow Motley Fool contributor Dan Caplinger on Twitter @DanCaplinger or on Google+. He has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends FedEx and United Parcel Service. Try any of our newsletter services free for 30 days. ​

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Understanding Credit Scores

Credit scores matter -- learn how to improve your score.

View Course »

What is Inflation?

Why do prices go up?

View Course »

TurboTax Articles

Video: Who Qualifies for an Affordable Care Act Exemption (Obamacare)?

The Affordable Care Act requires all Americans to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty. But, who qualifies for an Affordable Care Act exemption? Find out more about who qualifies for an exemption from the Affordable Care Act tax penalty, how to claim an exemption on your tax return and how the Affordable Care Act may affect your taxes with this video from TurboTax.

Video: How to Claim the Affordable Care Act Premium Tax Credit (Obamacare)

The Affordable Care Act Premium Tax Credit is a new refundable tax credit that can lower your monthly health insurance premiums. If you qualify for the tax credit, you can claim the Premium Tax Credit throughout the year to lower your monthly health insurance premiums, or claim the credit with your tax return to either lower your overall tax bill or increase your tax refund.

Deducting Summer Camps and Daycare with the Child and Dependent Care Credit

If you paid a daycare center, babysitter, summer camp, or other care provider to care for a qualifying child under age 13 or a disabled dependent of any age, you may qualify for a tax credit of up to up to 35 percent of qualifying expenses of $3,000 for one child or dependent, or up to $6,000 for two or more children or dependents.

What Is Schedule H: Household Employment Taxes

If you hire people to do work around your house on a regular basis, they might be considered household employees. Being an employer comes with some responsibilities for paying and reporting employment taxes, which includes filing a Schedule H with your federal tax return. But even if you have household employees, filing Schedule H is required only if the total wages you pay them is more than certain threshold amounts specified by federal tax law.

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

10 Comments

Filter by:
kabube

If you are sending in your tax payment--use certified mail--return receipt--otherwise you may end up in a pickle. The U.S. postal service either lost the letter--or the idiots at the IRS misplaced it, and I was told I owed penalties and interest. When I produced the receipt of mailing the quit harassing me, but never apologized. They put me on a list which automatically audited me the following year. When I asked why I was being audited their response was "that's none of your business be here for the audit, and bring all tax receipts. I had to take the day off of work, and go answer questions--when I got there the IRS idiots didn't know why I was being audited. I asked why this couldn't have been handled over the phone--and I could have worked. They had no answers, and audited me again the following year because I deducted the loss of 1 day of wages. They are both rude and incompetent, and now we find not to be trusted!

April 15 2014 at 4:03 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to kabube's comment
merstockgto

I was audited for the 2001 tax year and received a letter and one of their people came to my house to look at the receipts. I had everything I needed and never heard from them again.

April 15 2014 at 5:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to merstockgto's comment
larry

I didn't think they could audit a person past 7 to 10 years, but you got audited as far back as 2001 ??? Thats 14 years. Is that possible we can get audited as far back as 14 or more years ??? If so, I need to build-on another room, just for my reciepts.

April 15 2014 at 5:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
larry

Most tax offices are required to send tax forms electronically as of 2014, so sending anything thru "snail mail" is no longer necessary. If you have a refund comeing you can recieve the payment by check or auto deposit, thus eliminating the post office, mail box and chance of id theft.

April 15 2014 at 5:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
virtualblair

today is april 15th - but you state April 15th is just days away?

April 15 2014 at 8:24 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to virtualblair's comment
kabube

It's huffpost they can't be expected to know what day it is.

April 15 2014 at 4:06 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
larry

They took a page from Obama----------and lied.

April 15 2014 at 5:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
aljoramaggio

Send it certified, return receipt requested.
The post office date is stamped on the part they return to you, at the time of posting.
The rturn receipt comes back to you, at a later date, with a signature that it was received.
Attatch both, including the post ofice receipt for the pstage, to your copies of your documents at home.

April 11 2014 at 10:34 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
JMC

When you select print from "tools" you will have the option of print preview( to the left, don't click print till you see print preview. Click that. All the pages will be viewable from the preview and when you select print then you will be able to pick which pages you want to print instead of all of them

April 11 2014 at 9:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jrogersbhs

Why do I need to copy six (6) full pages to obtain only three (3) pages of this article. EVERYONE I mention this to does not review your site or copy anything because of your lousy article recopying
situation. PLEASE ADVISE YOUR VIEWERS ON THIS COMMENT PLEASE.....This comment continuing comes up and we never see a response from Daily Finance.

April 09 2014 at 12:05 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply